The Gift of a Child
During Advent, the Tennessee Register is publishing a series of guest editorials on the theme “The Gift of a Child: An Advent Celebration of the Family.” This is the second of the series. Others will examine marriage and the gift of a child, fatherhood, family, and the gift of the Child, Jesus. Read them all here.
A large portion of my motherhood is about saving.
I’ve saved our four boys from all manner of falls.
I’ve saved countless handmade treasures.
I’ve saved bouquets of yard weeds in my best crystal vases.
I’ve saved dinner for a son coming home late from a practice.
I’ve saved pennies along with prayers for Jesus to make things stretch to meet our growing needs.
I’ve saved tears for after bedtime, so the children could sleep in peace.
And, deep down in the secret nestles of my heart, I’ve saved moments so tender and sacred that they stay there like pictures more than words.
For all of my saving work in the course of bearing and raising human beings, nothing compares to the saving work of Jesus Christ in my own soul through His gift of my motherhood.
Motherhood, in all its forms, is the essential feminine experience in the lives of all women. Each woman is made for motherhood, be it by biology or spirit. The Creator formed us with space in our bodies intended for growing and nurturing another person. He also made us with space in our souls for the same purpose. Woman is intended for others regardless of whether a baby ever dwells within her womb. We are mothers by His design in how we relate to other humans, sacrifice for them, and bring them life.
My motherhood looks different from my mom’s, my sister’s, my best friends’, but there are shared experiences that set us all on the path to life by dying to self in the everyday tasks of mothering. Maternity is the radical action of grace that allows a woman to offer one of the most beautiful imitations of the Savior in giving life to another person: this is my body, given for you.
In motherhood, I take up my cross daily in the cross shaped bodies of the little ones I carry. I have given away my life – my plans and preferences – to the ones who need my motherly care, only to find that life restored and more abundant than I could ever dream.
Every season of my motherhood has been sanctifying for my soul through the mystical economy of Jesus’ salvation. Mothering is His work in me and on me.
St. Paul, in writing to his spiritual son Timothy, says: “But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” I do not remember hearing these words before I had children. Only after becoming a mother did I have ears for them. I need them.
In the darkness of wakeful nights while nursing a newborn, I needed this message. When fear and worry over my own motherly failures crack the terra firma of my heart, these words settle into the fractures like soothing balm. I have white knuckled these words through toddlers and teenagers, and I know they are true because nothing like motherhood has brought me to my knees and so close to Jesus, my Savior. Motherhood is God’s saving gift, infusing my pride sick soul with its best antidote: humility.
For many spiritual masters, humility is the mother of all virtues. St. Augustine calls humility “the foundation of all other virtues.” Humility is a womb of grace which can grow saints. Humility is the virtue of the Magnificat, the glorious prayer of an expectant Mother who knows her place and God’s power. And, my own motherhood – with its many humiliations, trials, struggles, and raw vulnerability – is the perfect school for the Biblical truth of God’s strength shown through my weakness.
Motherhood saves, not because I have given birth or changed diapers, but because nothing like motherhood makes me lean so hard on Him, my Savior.
Franchelle Jaeger, her husband Matt, and their four sons, Ward, Alex, Evan, and Sam, are parishioners at St. Matthew Church in Franklin.