God…the Mother? Embracing the Maternal Nature of the Father

 

Inspiring. Loyal. Caring. Selfless. All words which have at least at one point in time featured on your typical Mother’s Day Card. “Her children rise up and call her blessed…” (Proverbs 31:28)  goes the often-cited ode to the virtuous woman in Proverbs. The ideal mother is strong, nurturing, and worthy of praise. The ideal mother – whether enshrined in ancient Jewish texts or extolled on modern-day Hallmark cards – looks a lot like the Father, that is our Father who rules the heavens and the earth.

As a new mom, I have found that the relationship I have with my little one reminds me of the relationship God desires to have with his children – of course on a grander, deeper and more spiritual level. Motherhood has brought me to the point at which I recognize the maternal side of the Creator. Scripture has made it clear that we serve God, the Father, but there are also instances in which God is ascribed distinctly maternal qualities. In Isaiah 49:15, God compares himself to a nursing mother that cannot possibly forget her own. Later in Isaiah, God offers his people comfort in a manner likened to that of a mother to its child (Isaiah 66:13). Through my interactions with the little one, I have been reminded of the many ways in which our Father, “mothers.”

His thoughts towards us are of good

As a new mom, I’ve come closer to the idea of praying incessantly. I’m desperate. The stakes are higher now that the little one is under my care. Along with usual prayer requests of protection, health and a good future, I make declarative statements over her life. Over her brow, I whisper “you are the head and never the tail,” “you will never be put to shame,” ” you will do great exploits for the kingdom of God.” It’s hard not to look at someone fashioned in your own likeness and not wish good for them. As God watches over us, His thoughts towards his children of those of peace and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). And these thoughts towards are number more than the grains of sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18). Daily, the Lord whispers blessings over us, his children – some of which are found in Scripture. His blessings over us are infinitely more effectual – He has the power to bring them to reality.

He knows our needs before we do

At three months, the little one has no idea that before any public outing or any extended period of absence, I have everything laid out for her. As she’s quietly asleep in her bassinet, I’ve packed her bag with warmed milk, half a dozen diapers and her back-up “oops-I’ve-pooped” ensemble with matching socks to boot. Her needs, as far as I am concerned, are always covered, before they even become needs. Similarly, God “knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8). The Word is rife with God providing for His people. God has our bags packed with the materials, talents, and people we need in order to fulfill our divine calling in life – oftentimes before we are even called. If our Father can spare a moment to cater to the needs of the grasses of the fields – how much more so, us (Matthew 6:30)?

He allows us to cry, but He has a solution on the way

The little one has been merciful to me – she only cries about one thing: food. She wants her milk immediately and on demand. It amuses me at times how she cries for these things when it’s clear that food in on the way. I have never given her a reason to believe that food will not come. In the same way, God has never given me a reason that He will not fulfill all my needs. However, I do find myself having a little cry or complaining session when I find that my needs are not exactly fulfilled on my schedule. So, yes, I have been known to given out a cry, but He has always replied with a solution.

He desires relationship

With her penchant for food every two hours, sometimes I wonder if the little one sees me as a glorified milk machine. It warms my heart when she has her hands outstretched towards me or flashes one of her lovely toothless grins in my direction. It’s an occasional reminder that mom is more than what she can provide. Realizing the immense affection God has for us, it is easy to take his love for granted and turn to Him only when a need isn’t being met or we have  long itemized prayer list. He wishes to be seen as more than just a genie. He longs for companionship. In Scripture, we are given permission to call him, Abba, which to me, is like the Aramaic version of daddy or pops – a term of endearment. In the garden of Eden, He walked with Adam and Eve, prior to the fall. And among those great saints in the Scripture, he communed with them as one would a parent – with respectful affection.

He sacrifices for us

Motherhood is a exercise in long-suffering. We undergo inhumane levels of sleep deprivation, sacrifice youthful figures, and cut back on social calendars for the sake of our young. Despite all of this, none measures up to the ultimate sacrifice God gave to us – his Son. If we know how to give good gifts to our children – we who are flawed – how much more so than God? And He has proven that with his Son. Even at that, he waits for us to recognize our need for him and then accept this sacrifice. He gave us his very best. You think your mother knows who to throw down on Christmas – well, God invented it.

The idea of embracing the feminine side of God may ruffle some feathers in conservative Christian circles. However, as weeks turn into months with my little one, I am convinced that there are certain aspects of motherhood that mirror the character of God. The natural sets stage for understanding the spiritual. Daily, I discover new ways in which the divine nurturing nature of God can be understood through the lens of earthly parenting. I implore you to also embrace the motherly side of the Creator.

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“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15)

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Rx to Overcoming a Fear of Failure

One can overcome the fear of failure – no embarrassing trips to the drugstore in your rollers needed. A heaping dose of self-medication is okay here. The following is a prescription I’ve taken to pick myself up, brush that dirt off my shoulder, and forge ahead.

Atychiphobia is the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure [that] leads to a constricted lifestyle, and is particularly devastating for its effects on a person’s willingness to attempt certain activities…Persons afflicted with atychiphobia considers the possibility of failure so intense that they choose not to take the risk.
(Source)

It’s that feeling you get before you write down the first word of that business proposal you’ve had in mind for years.

It seizes you before you take the first step to restart your educational program.

And you know, it is also that looming sense of dread that approaches as you consider that new Cold Stone® ice cream flavor you’ve wanted to try but may not live up to your Mud Pie Mojo usual.

It is the fear that time may be wasted, efforts thwarted, or that another five dollars may be thrown away as you seek to change your current circumstances for the better.
Who would have thought that such ordinary experiences could hint at an underlying medical condition – Atychiphobia – the fear of failure? Directly translated from the Greek – the fear of the unfortunate (circumstance).

Personally speaking, my perfectionist tendencies coupled with some high-profile failures that I have experienced in the not-so-distant past puts me at a unique risk for such a phobia. The desire to be perfect and the sting of past failures are quite dangerous on their own individual merits. Together, they are particularly deadly to the spirit. Each element feeds off the other for the purposes of stifling the creative spirit and forever relegating one to the congested halls of mediocrity.

One can overcome the fear of failure – no embarrassing trips to the drugstore in your rollers needed. A heaping dose of self-medication is okay here. The following is a prescription I’ve taken to pick myself up, brush that dirt off my shoulder, and forge ahead.

Life is one long rough draft…

So, get over it. While in undergrad, I found that the more versions of the rough draft I had before I submitted the final paper, the better the outcome. Of course, this hardly happened because I was seriously engaged in perfecting the craft of “how-to-write-your-term-paper-before-10am-the-next-day.” Beyond such fiascos, I quickly learned that your first attempt is not and should not be your best ever. Yes, try your best, but don’t let your perfectionist tendencies paralyze you. Even if your first attempt hollers, “Reject!” realize that it’s only going to get better. We are all a work in progress – embrace it.

Don’t waste your past failures

As embarrassing as past failures can be, they are always useful. Take stock of what went wrong, seek advice and commit to learning from the past. Our natural tendency is to conceal our blemishes and white out our mistakes. The danger with such an approach is that we waste the opportunities to benefit from our failures. Additionally, we also deny others the chance to learn from our mistakes. I remain forever indebted to the countless number of women who have dared to bare their past hurts and regrets before me</>. Failing is an unfortunate fact of life – how you move on from it is what counts.

Do it scared

I’m a huge fan of evangelist and motivational speaker, Joyce Meyers. I have found many of her daily devotionals to be quite encouraging. In one such passage, she writes,

Many times we think we should wait to do something until we are no longer afraid, but if we did that, we’d probably accomplish very little….

The prospect of writing that business proposal or stepping into that classroom is not going to get any less daunting any time soon. In fact, the more time passes, guaranteed, the more difficult that task is going to get. Come to terms with the fact that many of the exciting things the amazing version of you will undertake are going to seem pretty scary. Accept the reality of fear, but do it anyway.

Shake it off

I know – easier said, sung, or danced than done. Don’t take it as a personally if things don’t go your way. Yes, it’s embarrassing to fail publicly, but some of the strongest black women I have admired are those who are able to arise from the ashes of an awful situation, keep their head up, and press forward. Remember, quitting is never a good look. The beauty of persistence – timeless.

Keep a close knit circle of high-achieving, positive people

Seeking out such a group, let me add, is not necessarily snobbish. You’re looking out for your well-being and potentially adding to that of others. If you find yourself in a barrel of 7977a111e74482d47baf57cb5265ff8ccrabs – most likely, you’re hater too, relishing the next chance to pull down your fellow crustacean. Associate with those who reach for the unimaginable and those who scorn the notion of quitting. Such people may or may not be in your field of interest. I have found that those not familiar with my field are more likely to bring me back to the reality that there is a life beyond a sucky day on labor and delivery.


None of what I suggested will make you a Beyoncé or whomever else you consider the bastion of all that is flawless and feminine (sorry). Rather, I do believe that putting some of the above into practice – if you haven’t already – may bring you closer to that goal of becoming an even more amazing version of (insert-your-name-here). Fear be damned.