Ten years ago I decided to try dating God’s way.
For me, that meant I no longer lived with my boyfriend and I stopped having sex outside of marriage. Do you want to know my fairytale ending? I’m a spinster. (On second thought, I’m not even that, since I’m not a virgin). And, I don’t have kids.
As the years passed, this all become a bitter pill to swallow. I still had lots of friends living the way I used to—and they got their “happy endings.” Here I was, trying my best to do it all God’s way, and I was left empty handed.
One night, it all bubbled over. Me and God had a big conversation. I’ll be honest, it was basically an adult temper tantrum—including me telling God everything unfair he was doing to my life. To make sure He understood just how frustrated I really was, I used a few of my favorite four letter words. It wasn’t pretty, but it was raw. And, if you can believe it, I think God would much rather us be that way with him—real and honest. That ugly moment, that tantrum, was the beginning of something new.
Despite the four letter words and accusations I threw at Him that night, I don’t actually believe God is cruel. I don’t think He gets pleasure from placing a desire on our heart only to leave it unfulfilled. I even went so far as to ask God to remove my desire to get married. If I didn’t feel, it would all be a little easier, right? He didn’t answer that prayer. But pity did slowly leave the party. The worry about being alone and the pressure to meet the right guy lessened. I was able to start moving forward.
I began praying, I journaled, and I had honest conversations with my friends who were in the same boat. And at some point, God showed up. I feel like He started speaking to me. Not audibly. But I began to get ideas that didn’t seem to be from me, and they made me feel better.
In the decade since I made the decision to move toward God with my dating relationships, I’ve learned two important lessons.
1. It’s okay to grieve the loss of a dream.
If the coming of Mother’s Day each year is a reminder for you of a dream that remains out of your reach, I want you to feel the freedom to mourn that loss. Unfulfilled dreams and lost expectations are worthy of your grief. It’s not silly. It’s not juvenile. It’s not unimportant. Honesty is the best way to deal with grief…and with God. Perhaps it’s the right time for your temper tantrum. Tell Him how you feel. Hold nothing back. Just get it all out in the open and enjoy the freedom that comes from not pretending anymore.
The night I poured my unfiltered heart out to God, I made a startling discovery—I believe he was mourning with me. God’s intention wasn’t the broken world we live in. In fact, I think He hurts when his children do. Pain doesn’t mean God doesn’t care. I’ve learned to believe God uses everything for his good; that he’s capable of redeeming even the most catastrophic losses. One way He did that in my life was in teaching me to redefine an important word.
2. Mother is a verb.
The word “mother” is both a noun (a person) and a verb (an action). I may never have a chance to be the noun…but I’m losing no time at becoming the best verb I can be.
To mother, as a verb, means to “produce or create; to bring up with care and affection.” Every day I find new ways that God is allowing me to be a mother, even without children of my own.
I’m an aunt of six nieces and nephews. I’ve changed their diapers, fed them, taught them, laughed with them, and loved them. In fact, I can’t imagine loving anyone more than I love them. We spend quality time together…and I remind them that, just as I changed their diapers, there may come a day when I need them to change mine.
I’ve had the opportunity to tutor children, helping them learn to read. I led a small group of high school girls, meeting with them weekly from freshman orientation till graduation. I adopted a rescue dog, nursing her back into the healthy, carefree creature she was born to be. All of that is producing; creating; bringing up with care and affection. Therefore, all of that, is mothering.
Learning to change my perspective on what it means to be a mother has opened my eyes to array of endless possibilities. I don’t have biological children—and I don’t ever expect to. Still, every morning, I wake up and ask God how he wants me to mother that day. Sometimes it’s at work. Sometimes it’s with my family. And sometimes, it’s something unexpected.
A few weeks ago, I was shopping at a local grocery store in the pouring rain. As I was approaching the store, I noticed an elderly woman leaving the store with a cart full of groceries. Another older woman pulled up to the curb to pick her up. I made my way over to them and suggested they both get in the car and let me load their groceries for them. They were so stunned, they didn’t even ask questions. My job finished, walking back to my vehicle, I felt God speak to me. “You just mothered them,” He said. It felt good, like I was doing the exact thing I was born to do.
I want you to consider what it means for you to be a mother—whether you have biological children or not. What would it look like if women dared to get out into the world and help care for it? What if they used their times and talents to create life in others? What if their passion was in producing healthy relationships and communities?
Mothers change things. I may not have the title of mom, but I am absolutely mothering the hell out of the world. And a little less hell would go a long way. This is my open invitation for you to join me.