On Mother’s Day 2004 I made the mistake of going to church.
By that time my husband Peter and I had been floundering in the stormy sea of infertility for over two years, and I was tired. Depression was weighing me down — anger, too — as we rode wave after wave. The monthly swell of hope, then the crash of despair. The flailing of weary limbs and the gasping for air. The trying desperately not to drown.
The repeated prayer, “If You love me, why won’t You give us a child?”
In an effort to avoid babies and mothers and pregnant people, I had almost stopped attending church altogether.
Yet, on that Sunday, something compelled me to go.
When we arrived at the building where our urban church plant congregation gathered, I followed Peter to the back row of folding chairs. Feeling uncomfortable and conspicuous, I avoided eye contact with everyone and slouched silently in my seat.
Then, before we could even sing one song, before the worship leader could ask the mothers to stand and be honored, there on the screen — larger than life itself — was a picture of the pastor’s newborn babe.
The ache in my chest swelled beyond capacity and the tears in my eyes burned hot as we stood to sing “Here I Am to Worship,” with its repeated reverential refrain, “You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.” At which point I actually sobbed out loud, so several people around me heard, “But He’s not!”
And Peter ushered me out the door.
In John chapter 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, saying “the one you love,” their brother Lazarus, was sick. The passage makes it clear through repetition that Jesus loved the sisters too and He did receive their message. He heard their heart-rending request, but He decided not to hurry. Instead, He stayed where He was for two more days. It wasn’t a long delay, but with Lazarus’ health hanging in the balance, this lag meant the difference between life and death.
By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four whole days. Before Jesus could even enter the town, Mary and Martha ran to Him. They each fell at His feet with the same sorrowful complaint: “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”
To which Jesus confidently replied, “Your brother will rise again.”
By what authority could He make this claim? He went on to explain, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Throughout the story, Jesus also made His purpose clear. Why did He wait? Why didn’t He act to save Lazarus in the way and in the timing for which the sisters had hoped? Jesus’ goal, He said repeatedly, was the glory of God, made undeniably evident when He cried into the dark tomb, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, and many people believed.
On Mother’s Day 2004, I didn’t know that it would be five more years before God would place a baby in our home — our foster son, Daryl Emmanuel.
I didn’t know that the eighteen-month process of adopting our daughter, Amelia Lixin, from China would turn into a six-year wait.
I also didn’t know that on March 26, 2012, both of those beautiful children would become Worralls on the exact same day — two very different adoptions finalized simultaneously — our own God-sized exclamation point at the end of a long, run-on sentence. Bam!
His power was undeniable. Look what He can do!
On Mother’s Day 2004, I didn’t know how searing the pain would be—with multiple miscarriages added to the mix. Nor did I know how deep His healing would reach.
I didn’t know how long my journey toward motherhood would take, nor how splendid God’s glory would shine.
I didn’t know. But He did.
He is altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.
Not simply because He gave me the longing of my heart. Not just because He made me a mom. But because He shouted into the darkest of places and called forth life.
Because that is how He loves.
Here I am to worship. Will you join me and sing?Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Your words give me so much insight into how I should be praying tomorrow morning when I sit in church and wonder about all the broken hearts.
I agree with Michele about insight into the hearts of other women as we attend worship tomorrow. You would think that I would remember and be watchful for that because we experienced years of infertility and I often struggled being in the midst of happy mamas. We just sent our last one off to college this past year and I’m old enough I haven’t bothered to practice tweeting, but if I did, yours is definitely worthy of passing along 🙂 Thank you for your thoughts. I will be mindful of looking for someone to encourage.
Michele Morin says
We forget our blessings even though they surround us! Good to know that there will be a team of watching eyes and praying hearts tomorrow. Lord, please don’t let us get so caught up in our own blessings that we lose sight of those who are waiting or grieving.
I too suffered through multiple miscarriages and got to the point where I just wanted to hide out on Mother’s Day. I hid from people and from social media. It was simply agonizing. I eventually gave birth to a baby girl but it was the longest, most painful road I have ever endured. But God was with me the whole time. I am grateful for the devotionals this week that have been sensitive to those of us who may still not fully embrace this holiday or simply find it bittersweet.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I can’t even begin to fathom the pain you, and many like you, have felt. To want something…someone so badly and for it not to happen would certainly crush even the most stoic spirit. In my own struggles, I have wondered why God has allowed my spirit to reach such utter lows…to feel so downcast? Why did He tarry so long with Lazarus….with me? The most basic and simplest conclusion I can draw is so that my joy would be that much more complete. Fresh roses look so much more lovely against a backdrop of ashes. Strokes of bright paint are so much more dramatic up against a dark black background. Joy is so much more complete when it’s had to wait through the dark night. I think God does the things He does, in His timing, because He loves us so much and He wants us to experience His love to the fullest. A love worth having is a love worth waiting for. He also wants it to bring Him the glory….we are instruments He uses to demonstrate His unfathomable love and mercy to others. This Mother’s Day will be bittersweet for many for a host of different reasons. I pray and ask God’s peace to be upon those hearts and that He would draw near to them as they wait upon Him expectantly. Thank you for sharing such a personal story that brings God the glory.
Blessings and Happy Mother’s Day,
Kelli Worrall says
Thank you, Bev! And amen to these beautiful truths.
Lorie Macon says
I can’t realty give you insight as to how to pray for all the broken hearts tomorrow, fort I will be inner of them. My husband and I divorced before having children, which is something I have always dearly wanted but he didn’t want you four through all the heartbreak of trying and it not happening. He is remarried now and has two beautiful little girls, so my heart breaks a little more than most. I never remarried, butI know that God has put me where I’m supposed to be. I know take care of my Mamaw, who is 93. I live with her and couldn’t be happier! She’s a wonderful lady who still gets around vey well and we have such good times together that I will cherish forever! So, I know if you pray for me, say a prayer of thanksgiving for me and my grandmother. As for the broken hearted on mothers day, we go to church with our mothers and worship. Ask we would like is a prayer for healing and peace and comfort. Don’t know if that helped you at all, but I tried.
Many blessings to you,
Michele Morin says
Lori, I’m so glad that I popped back in here to catch your comment. Your situation is one that I had never even considered, and it proves to me that heartbreak comes in all flavors — I’m so sorry that yours had to be double barreled, but goodness — how you have turned darkness on its head by pouring yourself daily into your Mamaw. My own mum lived with us for five years, so I know a tiny bit about the ins and outs of having an elderly person in a home.
Prayers for peace and comfort, Lorie, and I see that this is not the only place in which you “tried.” Thanks for doing the next thing every day to the glory of God.
Beth Williams says
So sorry for your heartbreak. God has helped you turn your darkness into light. You are using your mothering instincts/love to care for your grandmother. Nothing could be sweeter than that. God will surely put some jewels in your crown for this. God said for us to care for the elderly and widows. You are doing just that! May God bless you both!
Kristen G says
One of those still on the long road of waiting this year…grateful for the prayers.
Kelli Worrall says
Praying, Kristen! So hard.
Jill Rickard says
Dear Heavenly Father thank you for Kelli & her willingness to share your marvelous works in her life. When facing troubles in this world it is hard to remember that you have a plan. When our hearts are heavy it’s hard to remember that your ways are greater than our ways and that you plan good for us not evil. Thank you for your plan and for being with us through our trials. Thank you for using our trials to build our faith and for giving us hope and a future. Thank you for our salvation and for opening our eyes to your truths. This Mother’s Day, Bless Kelli & all the mothers out there that are struggling with a heavy heart. Bless them and guide them and remind them that you do have a plan that far exceeds anything that they can ever imagine! I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen!
Kelli Worrall says
Amen, Jill! Thank you!
Just beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
Kelli, I thank our gracious God for His provision on this day through your post. I have had my own moments of questioning our Lord’s goodness, especially now as a woman who is like a mom to me may be going home to His arms. I have begged forgiveness of Him for the selfishness of wanting her here still and grieve that the time will come, trying to rejoice in her homecoming. I am so thankful too, Michele, and Mrswright, that the postings have been so sensitive this week to how heartbreak befalls us all. It has been a long 5 years of barely recovering from one thing when another hits. Bev, thank you for the hope in your words-they are much needed right now as I struggle to maintain hope, but our God is truly so good 🙂
May our tender and gentle Lord grant us the compassion and awareness this Mother’s Day to hold out a hand to those women who are hurting, drawing them close in prayer and friendship as sisters in this family of Christ, to really listen and not be afraid as we be a vessel for Christ for them 🙂
Karen Collins says
What a beautiful story. I am so glad you waited, and that God blessed you and your husband with a family. Happy Mother’s Day to you.
So beautifully written. Having biological children, yet suffering through five miscarriages, I knew that God had a plan for us…a plan we were not even aware of. Yet, through His grace we brought home our son this March…and my heart explodes with love.
When I stand in Church tomorrow surrounded by the little hands I love to hold…my heart will ache; for all my joy there is a mother who heart is breaking. Our sons birthmother is a beautiful woman who allowed us the privlage of raising our son. The meaning of this day can not be honored without remembering these woman. Whatever the circumastance that adoption became a chapter in their life story…their decision allowed me a happiness I never knew existed. I only pray that if they are found within the darkest of places that they too will be called and find the light…whatever that is to mean to them.
So tomorrow as I pray, I will remember not only all the mommies, but those who suffered loss, have spent years trying to no avail, those who open their homes to foster children that they know will not stay and to all the woman that decided adoption was the choice they wanted to make for their child…I honor all these woman and proudly stand with them on Mothers Day!
Thank-you, I think it was very very brave of you to share not only your sorrow, but the joy that followed. You’ve beautifully reminded us that only God knows when the timing is right for us.
Have a blessed day,
Amanda Ripsam says
I love how brave and open you are in what you wrote on this post. I was almost in tears near the end.
Rebecca L Jones says
I’m glad He worked it out for you, He makes things beautiful in His time.
Beth Negrey says
Have a most happy and blessed Mother’s Day, Kelli!
Not knowing is terrifying. Thank you, Kelli, for this brave and beautiful reminder that He knows. And that He is always, always good. I will rejoice in this truth, tomorrow and always.
Thank you for your beautiful sharing. The greatest test of our faith and love for Him is whether we can still worship in the depths of our sufferings, not unjustly but the deep pain that’s beyond explanation. In my journey of healing, I learned so much that even when I don’t understand or justify what I’d been through, I can still worship Him, that’s what the Bible has been written to comfort us ‘The oil of joy for mourning…’ When I can lift up my hands in the midst of tears pouring down my face and say ‘Though you slay me, yet I will still praise you…’ Profound. I’m understanding a little more of what Paul wrote: for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Kelli Worrall says
Amen, Serena. Amen. Thank you.
Kelli, this is one of the reasons why I sent mother’s day greetings this morning (before going to church) to my single friends and child-less mothers (also to the other mothers), but the single friends and child-less mothers were especially important to me. Many of them are or were cross-cultural Christian workers overseas. They are all mothers-in-faith even if some of them have not yet seen their children. It would be so great if the churches and families would not forget these mothers on “Mother’s Day”.
Beth Williams says
You are living proof of God’s perfect timing. Thank you for your story. We often wonder why me, why not now? God has plans for us-bigger than we could ever imagine. He knows exactly what the future holds. Each trial we face is bringing us closer to Him-His ultimate goal. I was never a mama. Like Lori above I was a “mama” to both my parents. I cared for them in their later years. Just like mothering it wasn’t always easy and some days got long. In the end I know I did my best and showed them God’s love. That is what mothering is all about.
Thank You for sharing! This is exactly how I feel- I keep Telling myself, that God is good and that his will is what I want. I thought about your words Sunday and Monday- and I praise God for coming through, for showing up in your life. Since I’m 13 I Tell People I want to Be a Mum- whenever they asked what I wanted to Be. My life has been filled with babysitting, Teaching, kids groups at church, working in Full Time mission for two years… I am about to turn 31 and my Heart is heavy, I feel that painful longing for a child in my own life – it seems to get more painful with every day that passes. I Havent met The man has for me and this is making it even harder. I have been faithful to God since I met him with 14 and my friends always shook their heads when we were teenagers and I was the only one not messing around with boys- I was certain that God will reward me with a marriage that will inspire and bless other people to live it the way he created it to be. But now- what? They are all married and have all kids. I am struggling to keep my feelings under control. I’d really appreciate your prayers and words. Thanks for sharing.