Three times I have been “with child”, and a fourth child required reams of paper, a year of hoop-jumping, and 7,500 miles of flight to be with. All of them were worth the trouble. All of them came into this world with new trouble, problems of their sin nature and my sin nature and the very nature of the earth they’re composed of. But all of them were worth the trouble.
In those first days of new-motherhood, I remember thinking about the life that was so completely dependent on me. All of a sudden being “with child” meant a child was always with me, which was a wonderful and beautiful and incredibly heavy load for a girl of twenty-two, and I was a little afraid when they just let us take that baby home from the hospital.
How did they know if we knew what we were doing? How could they just leave us alone with her?
This is the way it should be. Motherhood ought to feel like the heavy responsibility it is, but too often it feels like a lonely and thankless job you can never do right. Every mom I’m close with has expressed those fears of doing it wrong, making mistakes that will manifest in their child’s adulthood as a need for therapy and a curse on their mother. Those creeping fears are usually just the enemy's entrance into a mother's heart.
God with us might be the greatest three words to shut the enemy out. We shall be with Child, bear His name, recognize Him as Immanuel, and always strain to hear the echo of an angel’s voice on a dark night.
The whispers of failure don’t stand a chance against the God who is always with us.
Our days as mothers are changing, all of us trying to hold on to a child that is growing outside of us and naturally pulling away to a great big world. We fret and worry and hope and pray that we’re doing it right but we’re not. We are definitely not doing all things well. But God is with us, and the presence of Him always, means a help for us forever.
The covering that I want for all my mistakes in motherhood and life is with me, and I’m with Him.
Advent is His coming, our anticipation. Even more though, it may be our reminder: Christ isn’t arriving—He is here. Our positional relationship with Him is present and past and future. All our time is wrapped in Him and we are called to follow Him, but He is with us.
The Child is with us. God is among His people.
I forget this when I receive the text from my teenager, asking to go here and there. I forget when I’m carefully previewing books and movies and apps and nutrition labels, when I’m wearing myself out with research and concern. I forget that Immanuel, His very name, is a promise to be with us, and I live, instead, like it’s my responsibly to keep life going.
We’re at a new stage of pulling away with our kids now and I still don’t know what I’m doing and I never saw it coming. You could tell a mom daily that the times, they are a changin’, and she’ll wipe the noses and cook the food and wash the clothes and pray the prayers just the same.
Every day is eternal for a mom.
We don’t count them all that way, but we live with a collected memory wrapped up in a child’s face. We live always with the children we bear, forever with child, and the beauty of motherhood is its proximity to eternity. Every time we are literally with child, we are carrying something eternal in us. We nurture eternity in our children when we remind them that the Child is with us—God Himself—who folded Christ into the womb of a woman so we could have this picture of Immanuel.
If you have forgotten that God is Immanuel, with us and in us and for us, then advent is for you. His very being is in being with us and He made a way through a Child. There is nothing you or I will ever face alone, and because we forget that, He was given a name to remind us.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION/ REFLECTION
- Do you relate to that feeling of your child being always with you? Does the presence of God feel that tangible to you?
- Think about the last time you felt alone in motherhood... like you were doing everything by yourself or didn't have enough help? What sort of emotions did those thoughts give way to? How might that situation have looked different if you remembered God's presence with you? How might it have looked different if you remembered that his help is available through Christ?
- Ask God to convince your soul that he is with you and for you today. In your hard moments and your feelings of failure, ask him to remind you that he is near and available.
Tresta lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and 4 kids, surrounded by mountains and rivers and the best little community one could ask for. Her days are filled with homeschooling, laundry, and trying to find truth, goodness, and beauty in the middle of chaos. Any remaining brain cells are used to put words together at trestapayne.com.