I remember the seat I was in. I remember who was sitting near us that day. I was so embarrassed. But I was so broken and I couldn't stop. The tears came in full force. Loud. Breathless. Shaking, I held onto the seat in front of me as I wept.
This was my first Mother's Day as a waiting mama. We were 6 months into the adoption process. We had no idea what the road ahead of us would look like, but in those moments, it's as if God allowed the weight of it all to crash over me.
I was thankful that I got included. That's the beauty of being part of a faith family that recognized the in between places we find ourselves in. I was asked to stand, along with every other woman, because we are mothers in some way shape or form. But when our pastor's wife uttered the words, "Lord, I pray for adoptive mothers who are waiting," I couldn't hold back the flood that came bursting forth.
For the next two years, I avoided this day. It's a day I've always held so near and dear. I was born exactly one week before Mother's Day. As the oldest child in my family, I always thought it was special that my mom and I got to celebrate this together - my coming into the world and her becoming a mom for the first time.
But in the midst of our journey, even my birthday didn't seem as special. Last year I turned 27. I had surpassed my mother's age when she had me. I seemed to mutter those words out loud once, and they were met with pleads against comparison. It's easy to say, harder to live.
This last Sunday, I celebrated my 28th year, exactly one week before my first Mother's Day with Brighten. I ate lots of cake and had a date night with my husband. We had friends watch our daughter and enjoyed getting in and out of our minivan without a car seat and diaper bag.
But this Sunday, on Mother's Day, I will probably cry. Some of my tears will be out of thanksgiving. Some will be out of longing. My heart still yearns for a baby that is half a world away. My heart still breaks for the women who are shedding uncontrollable tears grasping the seat in front of them, or worse hiding on this day.
I will also rejoice. Our story has not been easy. For Christmas in 2015, Jason bought me a shirt that says, "The Struggle is in the Story." That has been our theme. Our story is not glamorous. It's not one that I would necessarily wish on anyone. But it is also not one that I would trade.
This mix of emotions always catches me off guard.
I was reminded this week of the concept of "already but not yet." Simply put, we live in a time during the redemptive career of Jesus that lies between His resurrection/ascension and His sure return (source). We have the ability to receive salvation and live under the new law and be one with Christ, yet we are not yet experiencing the glory of living in a new earth where sin is no more. This is the place where grace abounds. We live among brokenness certainly, and we also live in a world where we have the opportunity to follow that with "But God."
This is where we live: in the in between. This is the mix of emotions that baffles me to sort out in my brain. I am already a mom, yes, but the journey that I wept over three years ago is not yet finished, not even close. There is a substantial part of me that feels guilty for even feeling the sorrow, because I remember the raw emotion of waiting for a child. I feel guilty for having anything short of gratitude for the sweet baby I get to call mine. But I'm reminded by this theological concept of 'already but not yet' that it is okay to live in this place. In fact, this is where we all live. It's okay to celebrate and mourn at the same time. It's okay to feel whole yet broken. It's okay to experience joy and sorrow. Grace abounds in these paradigms.
This Mother's Day, I want to celebrate where we live, each one of us. Some of us have families that feel very complete - whether full of kids or no kids at all. Others are longing to someday have a child or more children. Many of us are living somewhere in between. Wherever you find yourself, I hope that you know that grace abounds here in this place, and you are not alone.
Live your life wherever you find yourself this Mother's Day. Live loud, happy, joyful, and give yourself permission to weep, cry, wrestle and feel the weight of our broken world. But most of all, feel gratitude for the fact that our stories and circumstances do not end here, and that 'not yet' means that glory awaits us. Someday, we will we to experience the full expression of God's glory. On that day, there will be full healing and we will no longer be awaiting wholeness, not in our families, not in our lives, and not in our souls.
Dear woman, Happy Mother's Day. I pray that you feel loved, appreciated, and known.