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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

A Mother's Heart

By Christina Powell
May 9, 2010

A moment after my oldest daughter took her first breath, the nurse placed her over my heart. Her bright blue-gray eyes looked right into mine. In that moment, my new identity became real to me: I am a mother.

My daughter looked so vulnerable and yet vibrant. In the coming days that would grow into years, her well-being would depend on my diligent care. Yet, even in those early minutes of her life, I could see that she possessed her own separate personality with her own distinct destiny. My mission as her mother would require that I hold her close even as I gradually released her. Experienced moms advised me that becoming a mother dramatically changes a woman’s life. I found that becoming a mother forever changes a woman’s heart.

A mission to nurture life
When a woman becomes a mother, she sets off on a new lifelong mission to nurture life. Her biology reflects that God-given role.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body automatically nurtures the developing child within her. By God’s design, the baby is nourished, protected and comforted. Nutrients and oxygen flow from the mother to nourish the baby, and the mother’s body purifies the waste from the baby’s bloodstream. The mother’s womb provides a protective environment, with the amniotic sac functioning as a soft cushion as well as a barrier to germs from the outside world.

As the mother goes about her day walking and talking, her movement rocks the baby to sleep and her voice provides comfort. These nine months of physically nurturing life with her body prepare a woman’s heart for the more complex ways she will need to nurture her child after birth.

Beyond the physical nurturing that a mother provides to help her child stay healthy and grow strong, a mother supplies emotional, intellectual and spiritual nurturing. A child learns to trust by experiencing the consistent, tender care of his mother. When a mother responds to her infant’s cries or takes time to answer the questions of her school-age child, she lays a solid spiritual foundation for her child. The child’s experience of comfort from her mother prepares her to accept the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). Children of all ages, including adult children, appreciate a safe harbor to dock their boat while seeking a fresh supply of emotional strength to help them weather the storms of life.

Nurturing involves training and education as well as nourishing and protecting. Mothers need to nurture the intellectual lives of their children as well as their emotional lives. Whether a child attends a public, private or home school, the mother remains a vital influence in her child’s education. By modeling curiosity and enthusiasm for discovery, a mother can impart a lifelong love of learning to her child. Mothers often teach the life skills critical for long-term academic success, such as organization and time management. Children learn these skills by observing how their mother approaches her responsibilities.

While a woman can impact society in many different ways, motherhood affords the unique opportunity to influence a single life over several decades. Once the demands of a career and volunteer activities fade away at the end of a woman’s lifetime, the life nurtured by a mother will still go on, with her influence multiplying to another generation.

A biblical model for nurturing
Given the central importance of motherhood, we might expect that the Bible would provide guidance for nurturing life. Indeed, some of the best lessons on motherhood come from the lives of the mothers described in the Bible. Through the stories of their longings, challenges and triumphs, we see the essence of a mother’s heart.

Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin, gives us a picture of a woman longing to nurture while struggling to conceive. She recognized the honor associated with becoming a mother, to the point that she exclaimed to her husband, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1, NIV). Ironically, Rachel became the first woman on record to lose her life in childbirth. Yet, her story reminds us that children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3).

Jochebed, the mother of Moses, shows us the protective and sacrificial side of nurturing. For the first three months of Moses’ life, Jochebed hid her infant son to keep him from being killed in accordance with Pharaoh’s decree. When she could no longer keep him safe at home, she made him a sturdy basket-boat waterproofed with tar. She placed the boat among the tall reeds of the Nile River where her son would be protected from the elements yet readily noticed by Pharaoh’s daughter.

When Pharaoh’s daughter needed someone to nurse the baby, Jochebed stepped forward to care for her son. As Moses grew older, Jochebed protected him once again by releasing him to live in Pharaoh’s palace. Jochebed consistently chose the course of action in her son’s best interest, even when those choices were painful for her (Exodus 2:1-10).

The mother of Samson, whose name the Bible does not reveal, shows us the preparation that nurturing requires. In Judges 13:4 the angel of the Lord tells her that she must not drink any wine or fermented drink or eat anything ceremonially unclean during her pregnancy. Her son Samson was to be set apart for God even from the womb.

From Samson’s mother we learn that even in spite of great preparation, children can make poor choices. How Samson’s mother must have been heartbroken when Samson disobeyed God after being seduced by Delilah! Yet, at the end of his life, Samson returned to the Lord, regaining his strength one last time to defeat the Philistines. The mother of Samson holds out hope to mothers praying for backslidden children.

In the first two chapters of 1 Samuel we meet Hannah, the mother of Samuel, Israel’s last judge and the first prophet to serve during the time of a king. Hannah understood the importance of providing spiritual nourishment for her child. She also models how to nurture a child who has left home. Hannah prayed to the Lord to give her a son, promising to consecrate him to God. She kept her promise and sent him to live in the temple when he was a small boy. Even though her son now lived with Eli the priest, every year Hannah made a little robe for Samuel, bringing it to him on her visit to the temple. The time comes for every mother to release her child to the Lord. However, even after a child leaves home, a mother’s nurturing role in her child’s life continues.

When mothers need nurturing
In life’s challenging seasons, mothers need nurturing themselves in order to successfully nurture their offspring. Loss of a spouse through death, divorce or incarceration can leave a woman scrambling to make ends meet financially. Keeping the household running smoothly on her own while continuing to devote her energy to caring for her children can exhaust even the most resourceful woman. In such trying times, the Lord himself comes alongside mothers to give them wisdom and help them fulfill their responsibilities.

The prophet Isaiah records the Lord comparing himself to a mother, saying, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13). Single moms, heartbroken moms and grieving moms can turn to the Lord to receive the nurturing they so desperately need themselves. The local church can become a channel of blessing to moms in need, serving as the Lord’s hands and feet. I am confident the Lord is delighted when the church strengthens weary and discouraged moms. All moms need extra encouragement from time to time. In the church, moms can take turns ministering to one another.

In my journey as a mom, I am grateful for the strength the Lord has given me, often through the support of my local church. A week after Mother’s Day, my oldest daughter will celebrate her eighth birthday. Her 4-year-old sister, clutching her favorite stuffed moose, will be jumping for joy in anticipation of seeing her sister blow out the candles on the cake. In the midst of supervising a houseful of little girls on that afternoon, I will stop for a moment to celebrate my own milestone — the day God gave me a mother’s heart.

Dr. CHRISTINA POWELL, a Harvard-trained medical research scientist, ordained Assemblies of God minister and mother of Allison and Melissa, attends Calvary Christian Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Lynnfield, Mass.

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