Turning toward scripture for comfort in motherhood

When my son was born, I remember feeling like I had just been born as well. Everything felt new. The great big swell of love I felt for my son eclipsed many of the things that had been major focuses of my life. And on a literal physical level, my body was different, and is always going to be different. Suddenly I had the capacity to feed a tiny human being. Suddenly I knew that I could and would do anything to protect my son, and my brain was constantly walking through every possible scenario. The answer to each of them was "yes, I would do that for him," or "it's a lot of bad guys, but maybe I should become a ninja master just in case I ever need it." And then there was the overwhelming LOVE I felt for my son. My husband would laugh at me because I'd be holding our son and crying about how he was going to get old some day. 

So, along with all of these very real changes in me, I was also trying to learn how to care for a new baby. He was cute, cried more than I thought he would, was very bad at eating, got gassy, slept all the time, but never when I wanted to sleep... it was a lot. I went from being an individual who could shower, eat, use the bathroom whenever I wanted, to wondering when I would even have time for those things, let alone be able to do them. My son needed me constantly. 

This is normal. Babies need their mothers. I am sure I am not unique in my experience of being surprised by how much he really did need me. And in the midst of being needed day and night, as I became the main source of comfort for this tiny, squishy baby, I began to wonder... "But who will comfort ME?"

My husband's job had him working out of town, so I was without him 4 nights a week. I was struggling to breastfeed without pain. My body felt traumatized after a very fast, intense labor. I was afraid to use the bathroom. I had this intense feeling that I had no idea what I was doing. Motherhood is overwhelming. Motherhood can be lonely. And in those lonely, overwhelmed moments, what I needed most was comfort. Yet it felt like no one could provide the kind of comfort I needed, because this was a deep, spiritual longing. 

I told my sister that I wished Jesus could give me a hug. I told her I knew God loved me, but I needed His comfort. "And how can I get comfort if he can't give me a hug?" was my main lament as I cried into the phone. I think that's the difficult part about Christianity. Our God is very real, but Jesus only came to earth for such a short time. Not enough time to give us all hugs. Not enough time to sit with each and every one of us knee-to-knee like a friend. And yet, my sister in all her wisdom urged me to ask God to comfort me. Her suggestion seemed silly, but scripture paints a picture of a God who can and will comfort us despite the great cosmic distance between us. At her advice, I began diving into the Word, seeking scripture that reminded me that God is a God of comfort. I ended up finding Psalm 77 by searching the word "comfort" in my bible app. Very resourceful of me, I know. The first verse stood out to me:

"I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted."

The writer of the Psalm goes on to wonder if God has forsaken them, until verse ten, where it shifts:

"Then I thought, 'To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.'"

I encourage you to read the entire thing. The psalmist remembers the good deeds of God, and the psalm ends on a higher note than the one on which it begins. It's very poetic in its descriptions. But the important thing is that meditating on the mighty deeds of God brought out this hopeful change. I resonated so much with the first verse- crying out to God for help, reaching out untiring hands in the dark of night... yet when has God forsaken me? When I meditate on His work in my life, it is a work of blessing and renewal. He has rescued me from sin, restored my spirit, given abundantly when I do not deserve it. Why should the current darkness be any different? God's comfort is as present in my difficult times as it is in my rejoicings. When I look and see that it was His hand that carried me through so many hardships, how can I believe He will turn away from me? How can I not have hope for my future? And if my own memory or experience had been lacking, I could have turned to countless stories in the bible that demonstrate God's provision and love for His people. 

It may seem a small comfort to some, but this exercise brought me out of my distress and into a renewed understanding of God's character. God is constant, always good and gracious. I am the fickle one, slow to trust, afraid that His provision is not enough. When I sought the truth in scripture, God was able to shift my perspective. Sometimes I have to do this exercise hourly. And though it isn't the same as a real live hug from Jesus, the baby snuggles are a definite consolation.


Popular Posts