Part One: The Road To Motherhood
God has always been there. I know that now. But as a young girl with divorced parents in the 1980s, I went to Sunday school at St. Peter’s Anglican Church with my grandmother. I didn’t understand who God was, but God knew who I was. To me, God was unattainable—someone or something I had to earn love from. As a child and then a teenager who was dealing with multiple problems beyond my maturity level, I had no idea who Jesus was or what he did for me. I may have had a little understanding, but it all seemed clear to others, not to me. As I got older, Jesus seemed like a story I heard in Sunday school, and as I became a teenager, I became a misunderstood girl with childhood trauma from a small town who was being raised by a single mom, my grandmother, aunts, and babysitters. Being abandoned by a parent and passed around, kicked out, and left to fend for myself as a teenager, there was no God swooping down to save me, or so I thought, and it led me down a dark road I wish I had never traveled. And although no child should ever have to go through some of the things I have, I know now that even though I thought I was alone, God was with me each and every day.
In my late twenties, after years of running on the wrong side of the tracks, I was beaten, broken, sick, and depressed, but that is when I found God’s love was not conditional; it was constant. After years of broken relationships, addictions, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and losses such as homes, friends, and miscarriages, there wasn’t much of a person inside the shell I had become. Sometimes, when we are most empty inside, the light of the Holy Spirit can fill us so brightly, and it’s this light I hope I will get to share with you now. It’s like I asked for Jesus to save me, to be my lord and savior, mostly to save me from myself, and I really, truly asked and meant it with my whole heart. And that is exactly what he did—fill that dark, empty shell with light for the first time in so long, maybe even for the first time in my life. Wanting to walk in the spirit is what gives us the passion to follow the Torah and laws. It’s faith and knowledge of God’s real spiritual presence in our day-to-day lives that make us want to do better, be better, and live better.
Just feeling the real and true presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time is similar to falling in love. It’s intoxicating and pure, kind of like fantasy; it makes your senses come alive and makes you want to have a shower and put on your best outfit. I think there are a lot of people who, when they turn their lives over to God or give up control, have a sense of peace in a chaotic, fallen world. Peace is a huge feeling that most people don’t have, even if they do drugs to the point of dying to obtain some form of peace from themselves, their demons, and the world outside. I know that when I cried out for God to save me, I was in need of peace in my life, real and true peace, and God granted that to me almost instantly, even though over the years I have still had plenty more struggles. There are so many stressors in my life—an insane amount of them still—but having that peace and letting God be in control has changed who I am to the core of my being. And for that, I am so grateful, and without it, I would not be who I am now—the mother, wife, and friend I am—and there would be no church or thought of ever being a pastor of a church. Not to say it happens overnight, as it doesn’t; it’s a process, and it took another 6 years before I met my now-husband and another 2 years before we had our first son. However, that was the first time in my life that I truly understood what it meant to love, protect, cherish, and fear, and all those feelings, and to have all those emotions all at once. Is that how God felt when he created all of us, or could that be how Jesus felt when he was hanging there on the cross?
My husband and I have been married just over a year but have been together for eight years, and God has blessed us with three wonderful children of our own, plus my husband’s daughter from a previous teenage relationship who lives with us full-time. We are now a family of six. So now the little girl who lives inside me never feels alone, as she now has all the siblings, love, and parents that I longed for as a child. Only now that I am a mother can I say that the road to being a mother who is trying desperately not to cause any of my own children to one day feel broken, unloved, or abandoned in any way by their parents or by God is long? I am trying to teach them that they can have a real relationship with God, that he loves them for them, and that they don’t have to try to win his love. Yet sometimes I still struggle with being good enough for God, following the ethics that a good Christian woman and mother should, and teaching them to my children in a world full of distractions and social media. The competition from this fallen world is easily separating our children from God and even from us and making them into a morally bankrupt generation that cancels out anything that makes them have to take responsibility for themselves.
Although nothing in my life has ever really been easy, expecting becoming a mother to four children in the span of five years to be anything but chaos seems silly. Despite all the difficulties that have taken place over the course of becoming a mother, the joy and happiness that have also filled my soul are far more than I could have imagined. This is how I can now truly see the love God has for me and for all of us more clearly. Yet as a society, we are slowly eliminating Jesus from everywhere and everything. How can I expect my children to believe in or follow a way of life that no one else truly follows or holds on to anymore?
Sometimes, even when we go to church and socialize with our church community, I feel like we are now such a small minority of people compared to when I was a child. When I was my children’s age, everything was closed on Sundays except the odd gas station or maybe a pizza. People spent time with their families or friends, had Sunday dinners, and got dressed up, and life was slower and more relaxed, and you were expected to spend time with family or friends and celebrate God and our own creational miracle. Everyone had a sense of right and wrong, we had tradition and respect; we had responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors. This traditional way I am hoping to instill in my kids seems so long ago now, and I am only forty-one. If thousands of years of religion and Christianity have been erased in a mere matter of decades, how am I going to teach my children about Jesus and the peace I know I can rely on him for? If we are slowly canceling Jesus out of our lives, being Christian seems like something to be ashamed of, and our traditions are gone with the simple click or swipe of a button.
When you continue to read my story, you may wonder how, with everything on my plate, I am pursuing becoming a pastor of the Word. But once you see the miracles for yourselves, you will understand that I own Jesus and my life. It’s now a life I treasure, full of love, with God’s grace and mercy new each day. Although each day is different and never perfect, it is not a dark, hollow road with nowhere to go. So much of this journey would never have happened if I had never turned on the TV one night and cried on my couch, accepting Jesus as my Lord and Saviour at the end of some Christian TV show. This moment, however, was all the Holy Spirit needed to start his work in me, and that was the moment God was waiting for the invitation to step in and change everything.
I will save all that story for another blog post, as this one is supposed to be about my call as a mother and my call to ministry. And to identify with others on a similar journey, or even with those who may question or wonder how it’s even possible to do both, I still don’t know how I am going to raise children ages three, five, six, and fourteen while I am taking full-time distance studies at Calvin. I don’t know if it’s going to take four years or ten years, but I know that with God all things are possible, and my next blog post will show the miracles by which he has led me to my calling at Calvin Seminary. And perhaps this is your call as well; perhaps the miracles I have witnessed are similar to those you have experienced too. If it weren’t for God showing me his love and who I am through him, I would never be doing what I am doing. Being a mother is a full-time job, and each of my four children has their own unique set of issues; some are mental health, some physical, or both, and some are just needed as their children. So in the second installment of my three-part blog series, we’ll look at my motherhood journey and how it may or may not relate to yours, as well as some of the miracles God showed me during this time in my life. And why I feel called now to ministry when I am still in the depths of motherhood. How the depths of ministry may hopefully help shape my own God-given talents and help shape the identity of my children in Christ and those whom I will hopefully one day pastor. Some of you will appreciate or relate to my story, and through it, the Holy Spirit will reach out to you in an area you may also be struggling with. Until next time, may God be with you and bless you in all you do, and let the light of Jesus shine through you to all you meet.