A Mother’s Repentance

By

Before my oldest son was born, I had a miscarriage at twelve weeks gestation. It was a messy, terrifying experience; and for years after it was over, I struggled with fear that the loss had been my fault.

I was afraid that I had traveled too much in the first trimester, or that I had been too stressed about the ministry we were trying to begin. Maybe the electricity from the waterbed my husband and I were sleeping on had caused the baby to die somehow, or maybe I shouldn’t have lifted the flower pots by the front step.

The one thing I knew for sure was that I had been too casual about motherhood. Our pregnancy was unexpected, and my emotions hadn’t had time to catch up. I was supposed to have nine months to adjust to the idea of a baby; I didn’t know life and death could change places overnight.

When I woke up from the D&C, I was groggy. I remember asking the nurse two things: first, if they could tell the child’s gender, and second, if I could somehow bury my child. She told me “no” to the first, and to the second, that the hospital had already “taken care of” the baby’s remains. It was a quiet, empty ride home.

Community was not much comfort. The same Christians who would have been horrified if I had aborted a child smoothed over the loss with platitudes. They said, “You can have an other one,” or, “God doesn’t make mistakes!” or “Sometimes these things happen.” They were trying to help, but I felt a lot of pressure to be okay, even though I wasn’t.

So I didn’t tell anyone when my milk came in. I was so young that year, too young to understand what was happening inside my soul as I sat on our couch with my breasts swollen and aching, with my stomach cramping and contracting. My body felt the loss even before I understood it fully. I had been a mother, but my baby was gone. This left a terrible emptiness, and I wasn’t sure who to blame. The most likely answer was myself.

I thought maybe the universe had sensed my reluctance about motherhood . . . maybe if I had been more sober minded, I could have willed that baby to thrive. Perhaps I had failed to extend some invisible, mental umbilical cord (“Live child, live!”); maybe if I had been more ready . . . maybe if I had been more worried . . .

All that guilt and fear went inside me, it took hold in my empty womb. I didn’t know how to process this level of sorrow, but I did know one thing—that if God ever let me be a mother again, I would do everything right. I would die before I ever made a mistake so bad that it hurt another child.

A year later, I was pregnant with my oldest son. I still remember the prayers I prayed when he was living inside of me. I made radical, passionate cries to God. There was still a dark place inside me that felt like I had failed at motherhood first go around, and I was determined to be a different woman now. I would be as sober and earnest as I had been playful and distracted.

When my baby was born, he was beautiful. I had seen pretty babies before, but I had never seen a child so perfectly proportioned and weighted. His little hands and feet were sculptures. What words can a mother use to explain how it feels to hold her firstborn child? It is a severe love, comprehensive and eternal. I didn’t sleep for months because I was so afraid of losing him. I moved his crib beside my bed, and every night I lay with my hand on his chest, measuring his breath.

I determined to make every single decision based on what was best for him; it didn’t matter how difficult those choices were. From diet, to sleep schedules, to early education, I committed to hard, good things. I gave up money, relationships, rest hours; I bowed my dreams, my ambitions, my body down to this enormous task of maternity.

Sometimes I got so tired I didn’t think I could do any more, but whenever I was tempted to waver, I remembered that miscarriage. I remembered how fast it could all be over, and I recommitted to doing my part, even if it killed me. Besides, my son was a wonder. He was bright, funny, strong, deep, wise beyond his years. He shone like the sun. What could I want more than his good?

And then my daughter was born. From the beginning she was a compassionate child. If my son was a war horse, she was a mountain stream. She moved with delicate strength. She was artistic, committed to beauty. Learning came easy for her. It was all too much. I had been given the two most glorious children in all the world! How could I manage it?

I homeschooled after saying I would never homeschool. Then I started a University Model school when I didn’t have the mental energy or time to devote to such a massive endeavor. A few years later, I pinched pennies to make private school work, then I got a job when saving money wasn’t sufficient.

When my husband was a pastor, I tried not to put too much pressure on the kids, because I didn’t want them to resent the church. I tried to provide the right toys, right sports, right books. (I labeled all of our children’s books by date, because I wanted my children to understand where they stood in time.) I researched vaccinations, foreign languages, imported apple juice, and the impact of music on brain waves. I bought craft supplies, circuit kits, and microscopes. I made sure my children were never, ever around creepy men. I carried wipes and sanitizer. I wouldn’t let my kids play in the ball pit at Chick-Fil-A because I was afraid someone might have peed in it. I crawled through the playgrounds at McDonalds with them so a pervert wouldn’t catch them in a corner I couldn’t see.

Every decision about play groups, difficult teachers, radio stations, videos, and slumber parties, I measured against possible benefits and drawbacks. I didn’t let them ride with other people, even when that would have been easier. I found a way to be there, no matter what. I found a way to keep them safe. I would kneel beside their beds at night after they slept, listening to the sweet, steady sound of their breathing and remind myself that not a single day was guaranteed.

And then my two older children became teenagers. They became beautiful teenagers. If you knew them, I believe you would like them. The oldest is brilliant, edgy, musical, risk-taking, penetrating, and painfully funny. The other is brilliant too, though she is more forgiving, tender, insightful, and artistic. Both are innovative. Both are determined. Both want to know who you really are. I have come to enjoy their company as much as that of my closest friends.

But I am also afraid for them. I am afraid, because that miscarriage still haunts me. Losing that baby got into my bones, and I have lived believing that if I did well enough as a parent, God would bless my children and give them abundant, happy lives. I loved them too much to look at that fear rationally; the risks were just too high. I would simply do the hardest thing, and pray that everything would turn out OK as a result.

When I see that concept written out, I can see that it is too extreme. I see how it was proud, and constricting, and not born of faith. I see how it is rooted in law instead of in grace. However, it’s also a promise that is implied in many popular parenting books. If you raise children according to standard X, then Y will happen. And perhaps some of that is true; perhaps even most of the time X leads to Y. Yet, I am also learning that there is a huge difference between parenting your children with Christian principles and trusting Christ with your children.

The teenage years are showing me how wide that disparity really is. The dangers my children face have so quickly grown from catching cold to my son driving in the rain in the dark. (The latter turns me into a wild bear, all teeth and ferocity. My poor husband.) And now we are looking at colleges, and I am remembering the mistakes I made at nineteen, remembering the questions I had about God and how I was so defiant against heaven at times. I am hoping he will know better than I did.

And even though I was committed to do everything right, I didn’t. I failed. I failed. I lost my temper sometimes. I doubted God. I slandered, I resented, and I wasted hours I could have invested. I was materialistic. I was jealous. I was coarse. I was defiant. I failed in ten thousand ways, and so did my husband. So did the Christians who were in our community. My children saw hard things. They saw religious hypocrisy, and they heard thin answers to deep questions. They saw friends betray one another, and they watched anger take root. They saw believers fail to take responsibility for ugly mistakes. They saw me limp, and grow numb, and withdraw sometimes. As hard as I tried, I didn’t give them the perfect world I wanted to provide. None of us walked with God like I wish we had.

I find myself standing in the wake of all this exhausted, frightened, and overwhelmed. For almost twenty years, I did everything I could do to make life just right, and it wasn’t. Now my efforts to repair the past and insulate the future can do almost nothing. The world is way too big. Suddenly, I am helpless. I am helpless to do the job I wanted most to do well, the one job I was willing to die for.

“Lord God, what now?”

I wish there were an easy answer to that.

At twelve years old, Jesus left his mother and father, and he wandered into the temple so that his individuality could intersect with a world that was bigger than his little family. This is a complex story, because Jesus was a Divine child; I’m certainly not drawing “how to” principles from it. What I do know is that if I had been Mary, I probably would have been there standing in the doorway of the temple with hand sanitizer. That would not have been a good thing.

Mary lost the Son of God in a crowd, and apparently she was terrified about her mistake. She caught Jesus breathless and gave him the same speech I give my son when he forgets to text: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”

What fear is there in all the world like that of a mother who believes she has lost her son? There are no words fit to describe it.

Meanwhile, Jesus was busy chasing something more important than making his mother comfortable. He was asking questions. He was probably even asking the sort of questions bright boys ask, hard ones, questions they don’t often ask their mothers over lunch. And the living God apparently met him in those questions, because when Jesus explained the whole thing to his earthly parents, He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Sometimes our children need something we can’t provide. Sometimes they need to go into the swarm and figure things out.

What a story to read in this season of life when I feel almost paralyzed, because letting go is so much harder than I thought it would be. It’s not that my older children aren’t beautiful, bright, and good hearted. They are smarter than I am in many ways, and they have repeatedly demonstrated self-control, wisdom, tenacity, and kindness. It’s not that I don’t trust them; it’s just I am afraid that if I relax, I will miscarry again. Even though they have grown competent, I want to be able to give something costly and painful from myself that is sure to keep them OK. I want to die for them again, but I cannot, because we have reached some sort of threshold where I must stop.

In my imagination, there is a room in some transcendent realm where mothers of teenagers pray. The walls are open through arches, and there are thin white curtains hanging down, and the breeze snaps them. A collection of tired mothers kneels together in this room, scared, tired, palms up, asking for what we finally realize that we don’t have. And the prayer we pray is also a sort of repentance, which is odd, after all we have worked to do that felt like goodness but was never quite.

That prayer goes something like this: “Oh, Lord. I see now. I see that all my work was small. I see now that I was proud to think my strength was enough on its own. My striving and my sustenance weren’t what kept these children alive; you were here all along. You were chasing them. You were loving them even more than I did. My everything was too much like Eve’s everything, I tried to do Your job. At times, I think I even tried to fight You for them. Forgive me. Forgive me for talking about faith while living in fear. Please heal any wounds I have created. Please show me how to take a few steps now in faith. Oh, Lord! There my children go, carrying their questions into the clash and clatter of the cities. It is so hard to see them disappear into the crowd. Father, please do what I could not do for all that I tried.”

Rebecca Reynolds teaches Classical Rhetoric and Philosophy of Faith in eastern Tennessee, and is a contributor to the Story Warren website. She’s the author and illustrator of the pediatric series From the Medical Files of Dr. Phineas C. Bones and collaborated with Ron Block as the lyricist for his critcally-acclaimed album, Walking Song. She lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, with her husband and three children.


69 Comments

  1. Jane Tucker

    I’m not sure how I ended up on this post today, but I’m so glad I did. You write eloquently, and though I didn’t travel your road precisely, I identify with your need. It is indeed so much harder than I ever expected to let my young adult children go.

  2. Amy Miller

    Rebecca, your post reached out and struck me speechless. Because I too, am a mother with a miscarriaged past and a son (and then another son and a daughter) that I “sacrificed” and “willed” all of my being to love, live and survive each breath for. And that level of sacrifice is wonderfully given, but doused in fear. I see it now. And now, oldest son is 13 and I see other high school moms and wonder why they look so tired. I know why. I’m in the room too, fighting fear of the now and the yet to be (driver’s license) but humbly asking for that stream in the valley to live by while I pray. What a gift this was to me today as I head off to pick up the kids from school. It’s so nice to know someone is going through this phase of letting go. Blessings on your journey of faith without fear and my heartfelt prayers go to you as you remember and grieve your sweet little one.

  3. Brenda Nuland

    This was wonderfully written, sharing feelings I have known for years.

    My father died suddenly when I was ten and then my first child died shortly after his birth. He was a preemie and at that time, mothers were not allowed to see a child who died. My husband saw him and told me a year later, when his sister was born full term, that Matthew looked much like she did.

    My mother and stepfather picked out a tiny casket and my baby boy was buried at the foot of my father’s grave.

    It took me years to realize why fear gripped me at my father’s death and then later when my firstborn died just minutes after birth. It was because there was a loss of innocence when we experience the trauma of sudden death like that. It is something I struggled with all my life and thankfully God has helped me overcome. Kind of.

    Now the baby girl born a year later has five children, one of them with the same name as her brother. Another son was born after her and he is happily married. God has wiped away the tears and I know whatever happens in this world, my firstborn is there waiting.

  4. Vicki Krebs

    What a painfully beautiful post. My heart hurts for the young mother you were, as I was a good 10 years older when I had multiple miscarriages. The thing is, we just really need a good, Biblical understanding of suffering, and I am so sorry self blame added to the pain of loss!!

    As a retired homeschool mom of 6, I can say, please do not homeschool out of fear, but out of faith. You will need it when the doubts arise. What am I saying? You will need it every moment, as all parents do, regardless of school choice!

    Fear makes idols of our children and gods of us which guarantees failure, and every human is prone to idolize relationships. We can no more control their safety as babies than as teens, we just sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we can!! The most important thing of all, their salvation, is totally out of our control, so prayer is the parent’s main job! Every mother struggles with fear and faith, so let’s pray for each other.

  5. JamesDWitmer

    Rebecca, thank you for this.

    There is no way our stories could be the same. Yet the honesty and stark clarity with which you tell your story forces my own fearful, demanding soul to see itself there, in need of what is essentially the same repentance.

    Thank you for this gift of grace.

  6. Mark Rico

    What a good, heart-affecting thing to read, as a father of 4 who finds himself parenting out of fear and talking about faith all too often. Lord have mercy to bring me to repentance and joy daily.

  7. danielle

    Cue the water works. So good for me, a mother who just sent the last child off to Kindergarten. Reading that prayer– I feel as if I am letting go of fears and performance and grabbing hold of the one real thing I can hold on to. Thank you for this gift of insight.

  8. Theresa

    I lost a child at four. She was sick for most of those years with leukemia. Like you I thought that if I did everything right I could will her to live. One day she had a stroke and then later she had a seizure. The seizure brought a light to my eyes. I was never in control only God is in control. It was an enlightening moment for me and enabled me to actually be there for my daughter when she died before her fifth birthday. I thank god every day for giving me that light so I could live with her before she died. God bless you and your children. Live each day with them in God.

  9. Oriel

    Well worded expression of feelings I’m all too familiar with, both in love of child and partner. Devotion and Dedication, married to Fear and Anxiety. Tears and sobs, both for the loss of loved ones and time and energy spent trying to prevent just that. Wishing I could take on others pain so they don’t have to live this that you describe so well. Thank you!

  10. Mollie

    Yes, yes, yes! You have all the right words for this mom of teens. I’m elated that you understand my heart! I’m sorry that your first child is with mine, away from our hugs. And I’m very sorry about milk coming in. That shocked and horrified me when I experienced it, as though nature was punishing me for my poor motherhood.
    Thank you for this post.

  11. Bronwyn Lea

    I am so much earlier than you in the parenting journey but your words are a grace lifeline to me: the very thing I don’t want is to regret how I have parented, and yet the harder I try to control and protect and guarantee against regrets – the further I will push into a life where I parent out of fear rather than faith.

    Thank you for your honest words, and for the invitation to hold my own story up against yours and see if with an honesty and clarity I had not before.

  12. abby hummel

    I interrupted myself twice while reading this lovely post… the darling, beautiful three-month-old that I checked on is sleeping in the next room. (She has lovely blue eyes and the absolute perfect amount of chubbiness on her arms. I can’t stop looking at it.) She is the firstborn, following three miscarriages. While I’ve dealt with the negative emotions differently than you — I wouldn’t describe it as exactly self-blame — those lost babies haunt my parenting in a way that still surprises me.

    People ask me if I’m hanging in there, as though having a baby is tough. Tough? I keep her with me always. I know when she eats, smiles, and stirs in her sleep. She has never wanted anything but me. I have never once groaned when scooping her up to nurse in the middle of the night. I can give my baby what she needs to survive — what joy! It is when she is older, when she will have the ability and desire to leave my arms and enter the world of moving cars, ball pits, and sleepovers? That, I imagine, will be tough. I want to parent her in grace, not in fear, which will probably sanctify me in ways I would never have dreamed.

    This is good and honest. Thank you for sharing it.

  13. Barbara

    Ditto on everything you said. I did it all too. The few differences in your story and mine are that I suffered 2 miscarriages and gave birth to 3 children. Two of mine are just as you describe yours but one has learning disabilities. They are all adults now and the learning disabled child still struggles with life and depression. Every stumble, every fall, every failure is also mine. I feel her pain and mine every day and blame myself for not doing a better job. I cry out to God and I cry tears. The tears are a relief as they let some of the pain out. I repent for not doing it right, I repent for not trusting God, and then I repent for not thanking Him for all the good. I would have never dreamed how heart wrenching motherhood can be. Learning to forgive myself, learning to let go and trust seem to be lifelong lessons for me. May we all, as mothers, get a glimpse of how our Father sees us.

  14. Robin R

    I rather randomly happened upon this post this morning, after a troubling parenting weekend with my pre-teens. Thank you for this post. Truly.

  15. Lisa

    Oh, Rebecca, your words are mine, as well. My youngest left us this September for college, and suddenly, all that striving is done. This “letting go” season is tough, harder than I expected, but it brings opportunities for faith to grow. That last prayer of yours is mine, too. Thanks for sharing.

  16. EmmaJ

    Beautiful, Rebecca. I’m not a mom, but as a sister to a much younger brother, I have often found myself in a similar place–wanting so much for everything to be right for him, to save him from anything that could hurt him or from choices that would damage his future. Like your son, he’s a smart, amazing kid, but it is so hard to trust God with the outcome.

    “Here is my resignation…please do what I could not for all I tried.”

  17. karen farr

    A beautiful prayer of every mothers heart who has cried buckets of tears for their adult children. I Know THE Feeling of loss, not by miscarriage but loss through the tangled Web of divorce which is a living death…thank you for your wise words of comfort and honesty..i needed this today…let go and let God have your children, He always knows best….He lives within them

  18. Diana

    Beautiful. Repenting with you… A mother’s broken heart all wrapped in trying to make everything just right. I get that.

  19. JoAnn

    He sent His word and healed Him…. so is this word today for me… and it is through repentance blessings JoAnn

  20. K

    Thank you. I almost never leave comments…but I could not leave this site without telling you that God spoke to me through this. EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

  21. Kathy

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I have tears streaming down my face as I remember my two little ones who are in heaven. Nothing prepares you for the loss and thankfully now we are sharing what really happens. I am glad you are finding peace after all these years. I rejoice in my two adult children and long for the day I will meet my other ones.

  22. Kate

    I didn’t have a miscarriage but I relate nearly identically… only my 3 sons are all grown adults now (aged 21 to 33). The emotional fears may get worse when they are making those early adult decisions, theyve disappeared into the crowd and when you get a glimpse, what you see may not bring relief. Steel yourself. I deeply appreciate your words they resonate to the depths of my soul. The Lord has comforted me in my despair over my mistakes this week with these words from 1 Corinthians 15…

    57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

    Because of Christs’ perfect labor on our behalf, we are victorious and our imperfect labors for Him (in seeking to raise out children in His truth) are not in vain.

    I cannot see the victory in their lives at present, but I am trusting and thankful that He encourages us forward in our labors, promising they are not without result, good result.

  23. Leslie G.

    Oh how this mirrors my life almost to the T! I lost my first baby at 23 weeks to Anencephaly and I have 3 children – boy, girl, boy – not two. But your story is one that God intended for me to read tonight! Thank you.

  24. Angelina

    Two truths come to mind – all our toil is not in vain – and, He knows our frame that it is weak and humble and that we are prone to stumble. It’s not about us! Soli Deo Gloria!

  25. maurie

    I relate so to your beautifully written post. Our first son was born prematurely and lived only a few hours. I too questioned myself…why didn’t I…what if I had…Praise God for his forgiveness and his sovereignty that could have overruled my failings. Subsequently, I too overprotected my next son and our two daughters. I have loved and smothered them with my mother-lion-guarding. However, I haven’t been able to protect them from sin–mine, theirs, or the sin of others. Yet, thankfully, the Lord was, is, and will continue to be good and loving, sovereign and powerful. I am responsible to continue to love them and pray for them–and their children. Moms in Prayer has been my priority for over 15 years now. Taking them to the Lord and leaving them in his care has brought peace. A mother’s and grandmother’s love is part of our God-given DNA; I’m thankful for it–it brings me to His feet.

  26. Amy

    The line about Mary and the sanitizer made me laugh (I can sooooo see myself doing the same thing). Other parts made me cry because this is me, from the loss of a child at 12 weeks (followed by 2 D&Cs and plenty of empty, hollow platitudes and blaming myself always) to the fear of relaxing even for a second because bad things often seem to follow if I do. So many hard things have happened (multiple children with health issues, etc) that as a mother I feel like if I can juts control enough things…but knowing its God that is ultimately sovereign, and I am so small–and so very tired. Very well written. Its nice to know I am not alone, not a “freak.” Thank you for sharing challenges and conclusions.

  27. Jim cook

    I remember when we brought our new daughter home and my wife slept every night with the baby’s bed next to ours with her hand on the baby’s heart. This went on for weeks and she realized she was effecting the baby’s rest. Besides she was feeding the baby 2 or 3 times extra every night. She tried hard as a 21 year old mom to do everything perfect. All I could do was watch in wonder because I,m just a man you see and won,t have all the answers till I get to heaven. Even tho I tryed hard all these years to appear that I knew it all. My daughter is a grain of the sand my wife’s made of,they think alike,plan the same,look a lot alike,same size when my wife’s wearing from her smaller closet. The great pleasure is I get to see how my wife did it when I was busy all the time making money for everything,every time I,m with my daughters family. I love them both more than they will ever know,even though I might never understand them. I,m sure they look at me from time to time wondering why I think the way I do or do things the way I do, you see they will never know because they,ll never be a dad,and like I said I have no idea what’s going on I ,m just waiting for heaven and the answers that our Heavenly Father will provide. I think God Didn,t give men the answers like he did our good moms we have,because if he did,and we had all the answers we would think we Didn,t need our women and look what a mess we,d be in. If your anything like this mother you be just fine. Put in your 24 hour day treat your husband as if be your biggest and oldest child,expect less from him and over the years as he watches the children ,he will learn a lot . When the last child is gone you will be able get him do most things the way you want. Then as you thing about what a great job you did with your twigs you can be happy with all the pruning you did on the old tree.

  28. Amy Fowler

    See Hannah’s prayer when she takes her son to the temple — For this child I prayed…As a woman who had three pregnancies and one child, it has carried me through my fear of losing him many times. Prayers for you, and for all of us who have lost children who were loved before birth, Grace and peace, Amy

  29. karen

    I needed this for sure since I have always been the “fixer”. There is a fine line between being the stewart and being totally responsible. I’m trying to let go and let God. It’s a hard realization to come to grips with.

  30. jessie horney

    My son is 10 months old and my daughter is two and I spend every single day fighting my desire to worship at the altar of their safety and heartbeats. Thank you for these beautiful words reminding me of days that are to come, and of God’s mercy in parenting!

  31. glennis

    Tears and gratitude. You have captured the fear that lurks in my heart. I repent, again. He is enough.

  32. Lame Teboyame Molatlhegi

    Hi!…
    I am not yet a mother nor am I married…but for some strange reason I find I had to pray that prayer myself. When My mother passed away, I felt responsible for the whole family…especially for their salvation.As isf I was the Holy Spirit with inward pride I thought that I was responsible for them I failed….I have been feeling so defeated, irresponsible and like a failured.

    This post Is just a kind reminder to me to surrender them to God and trust HIM with my family. And trust that HE has a plan. HE is faithful.

    Thank you so much. I am glad I came across this post…

  33. kristin

    This spoke volumes to my aching heart! I am the mother of 4 beautiful living children and 3 equally beautiful children who were born into heaven. My miscarriages were between our first and second living children and I too found myself making many of my mothering decisions based on fear and not faith. I thought that if only I loved them enough, held them close enough, did every little thing right that they would be safe. It didn’t work to keep those 3 precious babies here on earth with me, and it doesn’t work with my living children either…they fall down and get hurt, their feelings get bruised by friends, etc. I am slowly learning that I cannot protect them from life and that the Lord has their every day numbered. And while I wouldn’t be standing at the doorway with hand sanitizer (only because I despise the stuff), I would, be the mother trying to get her child to cling closely to her so that they could be in her sight always.

  34. jennifer

    So true, so beautiful! I lost three, and maybe a fourth, by miscarriage. I believed that life begins at conception, but after the first miscarriage I KNEW it, because the miscarriage was truly a death. Most people were just as callous as she describes, but one kind person, a man I worked with who had a new baby of his own, said simply, “I’m sorry about your baby. ” Oh, the comfort it was to be recognized as a grieving mother!

    Now as a mother of three grown young adults, I look back on my successes and failures as a mother. My children are also lovely and I am proud of who they are becoming. The best thing I did with them was to homeschool and do serous Scripture memory. But I still remember realizing that, although God’s Word is powerful, it still takes grace for that Word to produce salvation. It isn’t a formula: do THIS with your kids, and you’ll get THAT. Otherwise, salvation would be granted according to my works, and that can never be!

    The reality is much more glorious: in humble reliance on divine grace, you lead your children to the Water of Life (yes, it is your job to lead them), where you will be allowed a front row seat to observe what GOD will do. And since you never know what God is going to do, you will be in for some wonderful surprises.

  35. Debbie

    This !!! So very much where I am .. Bawling .,,
    As the mother of 5 young adults a ptreteen and teenager .. . It is sooo hard to let go and trust God .But ! He is big enough and He is bigger than all my failures and inadequacies ….

  36. Nancy Stovall

    what a blessing to read your story–shared so openly. The Word tells the ” older women” to teach the younger–I believe this is all a part of it–helping us be strong, enjoying His benefits, learning from one another’s failures and successes. Motherhood is such a ” teacher in life”–REAL life. I always remember when my first child was born–what resonated in my soul was –” what can I give her that NO one or NO thing can take away –and I knew that was a real relationship with Jesus–ONLY He continues to be there–comforting, leading, guiding! That sent me on my journey to KNOW Him–I couldn’t impart what I did not have myself. Now my children have children of their own. About 7 years ago, he told me , “Nancy, I have dealt graciously with your children.” It’s taken me 7 years to process that and ” let go”…so we pray and keep on trusting Him; He loves them more than we do! Blessings to all the moms!!!

  37. MJ

    Wow! Thank you! This could be my story, however, I suffered 2 miscarriages before my oldest was born. My husband and I were DINKS (Dual Income No Kids), and were happy and free. Having children was a distant thought, until God awakened us with 2 surprise pregnancies; both ended in miscarriage. To make it even harder, I had all the same signs of miscarrying the 3rd time. Then my oldest was born with special needs. To me he could have been purple. I could not have loved him more. God used those awful, scary, lonely miscarriages to prepare my heart. I won’t go into anymore detail, but I will say that sadly, I have been that she-wolf homeschooling mother, who now prays as you have described for her teenage children. I tried so hard to protect them, but never drew the connection to miscarriage until today, even though I was a reluctant mother during those first 2 pregnancies.

  38. Leah

    I am right there with you. Comforting to know I’m not alone- blessed to hear how to prepare for those teen years to come. We aren’t enough- but He is!

  39. Elaina

    I had a miscarriage 2 years ago and still have not gotten pregnant again. Every month is a battle….It’s a reminder of what I don’t have of the one thing that I never thought I wanted but desire so deeply. I carry a guilt within that for so many years I denounced wanting children. I didn’t want to be bothered and then I got married. And through my marriage and the Lord getting a tight hold of my heart I realized how selfish I was. Now that I actually did have life inside of me and now it’s gone, I long for that again. Not for my own selfish reasons but I do want to be a mother, I do want to tell my child of all the things that Christ has done for us, how great and good God is..I desire that! But I desire the “WILL” of my heavenly father more. So if he wills it for me to do that Praise be to him! If not, then I will remain faithful in telling others of the Gospel!

    Thank you for sharing this post, It has solidified my faith more!

  40. Jennifer

    So true, so beautiful! I lost three, and maybe a fourth, by miscarriage. I believed that life begins at conception, but after the first miscarriage I KNEW it, because the miscarriage was truly a death. Most people were just as callous as she describes, but one kind person, a man I worked with who had a new baby of his own, said simply, “I’m sorry about your baby. ” Oh, the comfort it was to be recognized as a grieving mother!

    Now as a mother of three grown young adults, I look back on my successes and failures as a mother. My children are also lovely and I am proud of who they are becoming. The best thing I did with them was to homeschool and do serious Scripture memory. But I still remember realizing that, although God’s Word is powerful, it still takes grace for that Word to produce salvation. It isn’t a formula: do THIS with your kids, and you’ll get THAT. Otherwise, salvation would be granted according to my works, and that can never be!

    The reality is much more glorious: in humble reliance on divine grace, you lead your children to the Water of Life (yes, it is your job to lead them), where you will be allowed a front row seat to observe what GOD will do. And since you never know what God is going to do, you will be in for some wonderful surprises.

  41. Mrs.JWB

    What a blessing to us all and a gift you have shared your life’s journey…and mine. And a blessing to read all the posts. I thank God for you all, a GREAT CLOUD of witnesses who stand together as an army in word and in deed and in prayer.

  42. Erika Shupe

    Wow… Your words touched my very soul…someone put into words so beautifully my life. I’m still in it…but with just a little better perspective. Thank you. *hugs*

  43. Cindi

    I saw myself in your transparency. My heart repenting for the need to control every aspect of my second-born son; twenty years younger than the first born who lived, but at 30 still manages life with great difficulty. Who, in a tragic sense, is living a miscarriaged life himself. He struggles in life skills for himself, and the three beautiful wide-eyed children he and his woman have lost to the state foster system. My miscarriage.
    I look at my young son and control every aspect of his day so he wont miscarry like the first one did… your post causes me to realize the fear that motivates me…. I want to, no, need to surrender this young tender one into mighty hand of my Savior. There is healing that needs to take place. Thank you for showing me…. thank you for your painfully eloquent story.

  44. Christie Harrell

    All I can say is WOW I am blown away at what I just read. It opened my eyes to so much and I feel a lot of what you were writing. I did not miscarry before my son was born, however, I was on bed rest for 6 months with bleeding and they could not find the source of the bleeding. I was told that there was nothing they could do if my body was trying to miscarry and that I would just have to pretty much wait and see if I would eventually hold my precious baby in my arms. Every single day was a struggle I mean I would constantly sit in my bed and wonder what I had done wrong to cause this to happen. I would promise God anything if he would just let my baby live and allow me to hold him and raise him. I have struggled with fear and worry for so long and I know that it has been a faith lesson for me and it continues to be. I am still a worrier over my son. I research everything and worry that if I make a decision that is wrong it could be detrimental to my son. I can relate to all the worries you talked about and do not want to look back in 20 years and regret my actions. I just want to make it a matter of constant prayer to be the mother God wants me to be and place my son in God’s hand and trust his plan. Thank you so much for this writing.

  45. Connie Duke

    I too lost a boy in a miscarriage. The first six weeks were the worst. I remember sitting in church, and as they sang the hymn, It is Well…”, I felt the heavy burden of grief lift. The sadness has never left, but God wrapped me in His love. About two years later, I was blessed with a beautiful daughter. Tonight, after some gruelling events, I got a random text from my 36 yr. old daughter, “Thank you for raising a lady. You’ve prepared me for more situations than you ever thought possible. I love you. You did a great job.” I don’t know the specifics of her events, but I do know that God is faithful. God knows just when we need specific touches of his grace. A nurse at the hospital gave me the best advice the day she was born, “She’s never had another mama; she doesn’t know if you’re doing it right or wrong!”

  46. Beth

    This could have been me writing this, except I have 2 girls. They are 22 & 19 & I am having a very hard time letting go. I made them my world & now that they are grown, I don’t know what to do with myself. On top of that my oldest daughter had a son & he has lived with us, too, since he was born & he is 21 months old. I have taken care of him like he was my own & now she is getting married in a week & a half & they are moving out. I do not know if my heart can take it. I really need prayers. I homeschooled & they were with me 24/7. I am feeling very lost & broken hearted when I know I should be happy for her:(

  47. Patty

    Thank you for sharing your painful story. I am a mother of five, and with my first child I spent the first 18 years of her life trying to do all the right things, making all the “right” choices. We homeschooled, brought her up in the church, tried to reach her heart….all to no avail. We never had her heart; her heart was given to the world and when she walked out at 18 years old, halfway thru her senior year in highschool, I didn’t think I’d ever survive the agony we walked thru. We watched her make mistakes that reaped severe life altering consequences, rocking our world with each after affect. It’s been three years since that day she left to pursue the world, and I’m now a changed woman. I see now that I was trying to live right through her, in hopes that she’d turn out well and make wise, godly choices. For a year or so after she left, I was filled with terrible guilt because I felt that I’d failed. I felt responsible for the choices she made, and racked my brain trying to figure out where where I went wrong, and what I could’ve done differently. Thankfully, our gracious God began to show me that my girl belongs to him, and that her heart was never mine to change. He has shown me the deep deep love that he has for me and for my girl, and has reminded me that only he can change hearts. By the grace of God, the guilt has lifted and I’m a different mama to my four younger kids.

  48. L.

    I was overwhelmed in so many places in your writing I felt that you were looking into my soul! Unlike all the women here, I walked into mothering after having many abortions…not being saved until 31! Oh, when Christ came into my life, the guilt of all that incredible sin and burden was lifted – that is why I can now speak of it as a new creation. BUT, I know the many years I wanted to do whatever was hardest and best for the two girls God graciously gave me, because it was a sort of ‘penance’ (grew up Catholic) to make up for all the precious babies in Heaven because of my selfish, ungodly choices. I homeschooled, made their baby food by hand, nursed and nursed, never worked, gave them (with my wonderful husband) a safe and godly home (only with the help of God) and basically, parented out of fear. I am still learning about the fact that Christ has my girls. We have been through a lot with one of them – my oldest – with OCD, anorexia, and cutting. Oh, what horror. And you guessed it, I ‘knew’ it must have been something I did. Really, I know God has given us her to force the white-knuckled grip off of her and her sister. I have grown sooo much through that long and hideous trial. There are still remnants, but I trust God like never before. My lovely girls (17 and 19) profess Christ, but like you, I was speaking of trusting Him when I wasn’t many times. I don’t see alot of fruit at times, and I am usually tempted to manually steer them to holiness. I can’t do it. I can only now live a true, honest, loving life in Him and let them see all that He has done in me. And point them often to Christ. I am on my knees often for them, but I HAVE to trust He is sovereign, good, and holy – and I am not. I love them, but He loves them infinitely more. Thank you.

  49. Kim

    Thank you. As it seems many of the women here have, I had a miscarriage and my emotions upon initially discovering we were pregnant were much like yours…And the guilt that followed. I was just praying today as I realized I cannot continue this life of fear I’ve been living, trying to do the “right” things, worrying about decisions made, researching every pain or symptom. I have a 4 year old & twin 18 month olds. Thank you for your words and sharing your story and journey. I pray I take heed and learn to truly trust Him. Even typing that brought fear as I worried about what challenges lay ahead. Sigh. “Do not worry about tomorrow, it has enough worries of its own”

  50. Jane

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I could so relate to efforts with my adult children to try hard to do mothering “right”. My husband and I are now in the process of adopting a special needs little girl that we adore. I find myself hoping to mother better this time around, not grounded in fear, legalism, and imbalanced emphasis on authority. Time spent in prayer and listening to God is so important and yet gets so easily crowded out. Prayers are appreciated, really, prayers are appreciated.

  51. Ann Marie L.

    I honestly don’t know how I ended up on this page. It caught my eye and I saw so much of myself. Though entirely different circumstances, your writing leaves me at peace. I am awaiting my husbands call to tell me our sixteen year old daughter is tucked back into her dorm, away at a High School for the gifted in another city. Thank you, for the words that I just didn’t have. What a beautiful prayer.

  52. lynne mcilvaine

    I knew you had to be a writer. Your recollections of a lifetime of fears, guilt and joys were so precise. I could identify with much of what you experienced.
    With one major exception, our youngest of four took his own life two years ago. That one act changed our lives forever.
    I’d say that you are a successful parent. Stop fretting over everything. God bless you.

  53. Jacki Dow

    adjoining your imaginary room of prayer filled with mothers of teenagers is an imaginary room filled with Grandmothers. Those who are able are on their knees, others sitting , each one praying for their daughters, or daughters-in-laws, thanking their Lord for the trials, the lessons, the wisdom, grace and understanding that they have already lived through . Asking God to guide them, to give them discernment now as they struggle with some of the same fears for their grandchildren , so precious to our hearts.

    He reminds us to never forget the things that He has done for us, for they have a deep and permanent effect upon our hearts. May we encourage our daughters and daughters married to our sons with the promises of a faithful, just and all-knowing God who invites us to come to His throne of grace where He reminds us that everything that happens in our life is orchestrated by Him.

    Thank-you for your beautiful , insightful letter.

  54. Anne Robertson

    THIS. WAS. MY. LIFE. Thank you so much for putting into words the journey that I’ve gone through over the last 27 years. In doing so, you’ve enabled me to share my experience with my children, my friends, and my Christian community in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Not for lack of desire, but for lack of the ability to put it all in writing so clearly. It’s such an encouragement to me to know that others have made the same mistake with such pure motives. May the Lord redeem our imperfect work with His perfect love.

    Thank you, Rebecca.

  55. mindy lee irvine

    I appreciate your words.
    How beautiful that He showed you that you make a terrible Savior but a wonderful Mom.

  56. Weekend Nuggets – A Mother’s Repentance, Peaceful Presence, Six Words Your Husband Needs to Hear, What Mom’s of Littles Need to Hear During the Holiday Season and Much More! | Thankful Homemaker

    […] A Mother’s Repentance – “I am also learning that there is a huge difference between parenting your children with Christian principles and trusting Christ with your children.” Peaceful Presence – The Battle for Holiday Joy – “Presence over presents. I heard a beautiful mama speaking about the difference between these two while home in Indiana last week. Today is the beginning of Advent and I want so much for this holiday season to be meaningful. I want to love my people well, not through the purchasing of the right stuff, but the gentle loving of the hearts in my home.” If You’re a Mom of Littles Stressing All the Christmas Traditions it’s OK to Make Like Elsa and “Let It Go” This Holiday Season – “Dear Moms of Littles, listen up here because this is for you – I know this time of year can be hard. Because it feels like everyone around you is creating meaningful memories for their kids and you’re just trying not to yell at yours because you’re operating on, like, three hours of sleep and you’re so tired you can’t remember why anyone in their right mind would purposely engage in making cookies with tiny humans and risking FLOUR ALL OVER ALL THE THINGS.” 10 Reasons to Reclaim the Lost Art of Letter Writing – “When was the last time you put a stamp on something other than a bill? While everyone loves to receive a handwritten card, very few actually take the time to write one.” Six Words My Husband Needs to Hear – Read this one ladies and put it into practice immediately.  […]

  57. Suzi

    My goodness. I could have been the author of this. 28 years ago I miscarried my second child at 11 weeks- same thing. No sympathy from doctor or staff, friends staying Completely away from the subject, me crying for 2 weeks straight until my husband, not knowing how to deal with me one night angrily snaps “are you going to cry forever!?” So I became a silent griever. It took me 2 more years before I was ready to have another. In all I had 4 boys. I homeschooled also because I could not imagine turning them over to someone else for their upbringing! Anyway, I hear some miscarry and it never effects them. Mine was my baby and I grieved hard over the loss. Some people even hinted it was my fault, but I know it wasn’t. I was SO happy to be pregnant, and I was already showing too!  I dreamed about him/her a couple weeks before I miscarried. I saw this beautiful and vibrant still forming young baby embryo and I knew it was my baby. That dream was So real. And now I know it was  the chance I had to visit him/her before it went home to be with the Lord. I’ll get to see my young one again someday. That makes me happy.

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