“Motherhood…..a beautiful way to die.” That is how the speaker opened the women’s event I was attending. After waiting for the laughter to die down, she went on to say that though we are laughing, we all know it is true. I will never forget that.
A call to motherhood is a call to die.
A couple of years ago, I found a hole in our yard. It was kind of deep, and it made me nervous. I decided to keep a close eye on it because though I am a softy for small creatures, I hate snakes. From time to time that spring, I would peek at that hole. I started noticing that it was being filled up with dry grass. In time, it looked like a little nest, burrowed down into the ground. I googled a description of this, and I discovered that it was a rabbit’s nest, filled with baby bunnies. I loved that. The girls and I checked on that nest pretty much every day because we wanted to see the babies when they finally came out. One day I went out and, immediately I knew we had missed our chance to see the baby bunnies. The nest had been pulled out. There was dry grass all over outside the hole. The most surprising thing was the fur. I had not seen that before. There were huge clumps of soft rabbit fur all over the yard near that hole. I could not believe how much fur I found. What a nest that mama had built for her babies! They had been deep in the ground, in a safe, soft place where they could grow until they were strong enough to go out on their own. Then it hit me that all that fur I was cleaning up in the yard, was the mama’s fur. She had torn it out of her own body to line that nest and make it soft, warm and safe for her babies. Because that is what mothers do. They sacrifice. They give of themselves again and again for the good of their little ones.
When I first found out that I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I was absolutely overwhelmed with awe, wonder and delight at this mysterious miracle happening in me. My husband was out of town, and I called him and told him he needed to come home right now. I remember pacing around our living room in a dreamy daze with my hands on my stomach. I rubbed my belly and said, “I already love you! I would die for you!”
If my current, older self could speak to my younger, inexperienced self in that moment, I would have said, “Amber, you will die for her. You will die to yourself every day as you get out of bed and put someone else’s needs before your own. You will die to yourself as you have the selfishness torn out of you day after day by the needs and demands of others who are entirely dependent on you. You will die to yourself at the end of long, exhausting days when the rest of the world is going to bed and you are going to be up all night with a sick baby. You will die. And you will learn. You will learn to lay down your life. Like Jesus. Because there is no greater love that to lay down your life for the ones you love.”
This sacred calling of motherhood, is a holy endeavor. And it has the potential to change and refine us like few other things ever could. We hold small hearts in our hands. We show them what Jesus looks like as we live out the gospel in front of their little eyes. And at the end of the day, we get the honor of building a safe and soft place for our children to thrive and grow strong, and with every sacrifice, we get to become more like the One who sacrificed everything for us.