When It's Tough to Celebrate Mothers' Day

So. Today is Mothers’ Day. A day when mothers around the world are feted, celebrated and fussed over by their husbands and/or children. Restaurants are packed, flower shops are sold out and your Facebook feed is filled with posts and pictures of your friends/acquaintances surrounded by their adoring children.

But things are different for you. Instead of smiles, tears wet your cheeks. Instead of joy, your heart is twisted with pain. You can’t celebrate Mother’s Day. You don’t have children. Not because you don’t want to … but because you can’t.

I know how you feel. I’ve been there.

Nine years ago, in 2008, I got a text on Mothers’ Day that nearly split my heart into two. It was from an old college friend, who I’d just reconnected with. The text itself was innocuous, standard Mothers’ Day fare. Something like:

“Your children will call you blessed …”

What she didn’t know was that I had just had a miscarriage, which I was still recovering from. I was almost 15 weeks pregnant in April, 2008 when I started having severe pain. My husband and I had just celebrated our first anniversary and we were both excited to grow our family. I’m the youngest of four daughters and the sixth of seven children. Throughout my childhood, I’d had an affinity for children and I grew up wanting a houseful, a large family just like the one I was raised in.

I wanted to have children right away, but my husband was content to wait a little. When I got pregnant nine months after our wedding, I was overjoyed.

Yes! Finally! It looked as if all my dreams were coming true.

I couldn’t wait to become a mother. That little plus sign on the pregnancy test held a world of possibilities. Looking at it made me happy, so much so that I tucked it away in a little corner of my bathroom drawer. It was a reminder. A token. A symbol of the joy that I carried in my heart.

Until that day in April, 2008.

My husband and I had gone out for an anniversary dinner on April 21st. Shortly after, I started having severe cramps. It felt like period pain, amplified a thousand times. I woke up early the next morning and water gushed out of me, soaking my pajamas. I remember seeing a pinkish tinge and thinking to myself: “This can’t be good.”

So, we called our OB/GYN and she asked us to come in immediately. I had an ultrasound and even I could see that something was wrong with the baby. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went into pre-term labor and our son was born at 15 weeks.

Too soon.

I still see him clearly. The tiny body curled in the stainless steel bowl.

He looked perfect. He was perfect. He was also dead.

Oh. My heart. If ever a heart could break, mine broke that day. My son! My son! My son!

I wept. I wailed. I screamed. I raged at God. At my husband. At life.

Then, I learned how to live with pain.

It was the hardest, hardest, hardest thing I have ever done. Moving on from the depression and the pain. But, I learned something during those dark days.

I learned that I could live with a broken heart. And I learned that I could still love a God who didn’t say ‘Yes’ to all my prayers.

But, it was a process. A very long process. So, when I got that text from my friend on Mothers’ Day, it ripped open the barely-healed scars. My wound bled again and the pain was revived. I couldn’t celebrate Mothers’ Day. My dream of motherhood had been destroyed, my son ripped from my body by circumstances outside my control.

So, while others danced, I cried. While they basked in the love of their children, I hid myself in my room and wondered if I would ever become a mother.

Fast forward nine years later, and my Mothers’ Day experience is drastically different. I have three children, who adore me, and I adore them in return. Now, pictures of me surrounded by my adoring kids may be one of those flooding your timeline.

A Mothers' Day card from my seven-year old. 

A Mothers' Day card from my seven-year old. 

But, I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to weep when others laugh. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to dream of holding your own child in your arms.

If you find it tough to celebrate Mothers’ Day, I know how you feel. The tears will come and pain will sting, but hold fast to hope. And as you do, don’t forget that there’s more to life than having children. Find the bigger purpose, find the thing that will keep you going and embrace it.

And maybe, just maybe, your pictures will flood my timeline next Mothers’ Day.

Then again, maybe not. Many women are dealing with infertility to an extent that they may never have natural children. Some may decide to grow their families through adoption and some may not. I don’t have all the answers, but I know someone who does.

God has a plan for you, whether you have children or not. Talk to him today, and trust him with your future.

Stay inspired,

Onyih

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Push Beyond Resistance! By Remi Roy

2015 was a hard year for me. I had graduated with a Master’s Degree and was excited about my future. But, when things didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped, I was forced to look inward and examine myself. The truth was that I had skills I didn’t think were noteworthy. I wasn’t confident that what I had could help anybody or make a significant impact. I had zero motivation even though I could talk about the ‘idea’ of motivation and drive. But abstract concepts didn’t help me. 

You see, I have always been very self-aware. I knew that there were things I needed to do, ideas I could pursue, more books I could write (I had written two at the time and was afraid or taking another step) and things I could do. But, I had bought into the lie that if there was something great out there it would be revealed to me.

How wrong I was! 

I didn’t need anything to be revealed to me; I simply needed to take a determined step, shaky or not. I needed to wake up from my slumber and chase my dreams.

Sourced From: Bing Images

Sourced From: Bing Images

No sooner did I step into that new zone of ‘wakefulness’ did I discover that I had been held down by resistance all along. You see those things I always thought were not important or valuable? It was resistance that gave me that idea. I couldn’t move forward because resistance convinced me that there was no point.

Have you ever felt this way? When you get ready to do something new, all of a sudden, you’re convinced that you’ll never have the time to complete it. And if you complete it you’ll never be able to launch it. Or you’ll never do a good enough job. Or no one would support you.

We need to recognize resistance for what it is. A marker for the things that are urgent and important. Steven Pressfield says it this way:

"The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.”

And I agree. If it tugs at your heart and won’t let go, then you must do it. Shut down that part of your brain that tells you all the reasons why it may not work. Shut it down. Decide that you will do the work anyway whether the positive results show up or not. Sometimes the expectation of positive results stops us from doing all we can. We give up when things don’t work out the way we expect. But to succeed, we must keep trying, keep aiming at that goal until we hit it.

We’re on the verge of another year. Goals will be set. Resolutions will be made. Don’t ride on the bandwagon of emotional compulsion or useless habit. Make an intentional decision to make this year different. Set goals; not too big that you become overwhelmed and unable to move and not too small that you feel no drive to achieve them. But big enough to keep you energized as you pursue them.

Make it your goal in 2017 to do something big.

And yes, you can.

Remi Roy 

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11 Things NOT to Tell Your Divorced Friend

Shh.jpg

This week's post comes to us courtesy of my friend, Cheks Enunwa. This morning, I woke up to a totally fabulous Facebook post, which she'd written last night. I loved it so much, I asked her for the permission to share it here, which she kindly granted.

When she asked my why I wanted to share it, I had to think about my answer for a minute. Here's the gist of what I told her: There's a wall of silence that surrounds things like divorce and miscarriages, especially in the culture I come from.  Every moment of silence adds another brick to that fence, until people feel suffocated, alone...desperate. When people share their truth, it blows a hole through that fence, and gives someone the freedom to step forward and say "Yes. I'm suffering, but now I can draw strength from your story. I know I'm not alone."

According to widely-cited statistics, the divorce rate in the United States stands at 50%.  The divorce rate for Christians is 42% ... so approximately 4 of every 10 Christian couples will end up in a divorce court. Clearly, this is a very common occurrence among Christians, yet you wouldn't know it if people like Cheks didn't stand up and share their truth.

11 Things NOT to Tell Your Divorced Friend - By Cheks E. 

Dear friend of my fellow divorced single mom.

Fellow? Chekwube? What do you mean by fellow? You mean...?

Yes! I mean! I joined the distinguished ranks of Christian divorced single mothers in the early part of this year, 2016.

Distinguished, I say? Yes! Distinguished say I. Single moms are an amazing group of strong women. Flourishing in spite of their Herculean task. Doing the work of two, leaning on God for grace each day. Nurturing alone. Maybe even providing alone. No, providing as God provides. All day. Every day.

I should let you know. Shouldn't I? After all, I told you when I got married. Maybe I didn't call you, but you saw the pictures on my page. Now that it's over, you should know. At least I think so. Now you can stop asking those "How are you? And how is the family?" questions. Sometimes with that "I heard..." look in your eye. Now you can stop wondering. Now you know😊. And don't worry. I'm fine. Really. All by the grace of God.

And yes. I'm still a child of God, who loves Jesus. Don't worry about that😊. You can ask my Pastor 😆😆.Or you can ask my heavenly Papa directly. He still loves to speak to us you know, if we take the time to listen.

Yes indeed! Divorce, ex, custody, child support, visitation etc. are no longer "dirty x letter words"! I no longer get to scrunch my "sanctified Christian" nose and wonder what that woman did to end up in that situation. Okay, maybe not scrunch my nose. But think it in my heart. Because I'm now in it. In her shoes, I mean. Now I know. Maybe she did nothing. Maybe she did everything. Maybe she did some things. Maybe it doesn't really matter. For her, this is her reality. This is her now. It doesn't define her, but it's now part of her story, part of her unfolding testimony of the goodness of her God.

I'm writing this to share some advice on how to relate to your Christian divorced single mother friend. You may have good intentions, but:

1. Please DO NOT send her scripture about how God hates divorce! DO NOT DO IT!!!! She has agonized over that all by herself. And maybe she's finally gotten to the point where she is free in her heart and knows she and her Heavenly Father are cool! 😎  Please don't send her back to the prison of self-condemnation. You do not know what happened! Don't hide a judgmental spirit behind your 'care for her soul'. Jesus loves her. This she knows.

2. Stop telling her that he is still the father of her children and so she has to blah blah blah! Believe me, she remembers who she made her children with. And you weren't even there? So how do you know??😆😜

3. Stop asking her how she gets along with him and whether she said hello when he was at the same function the other day. Frankly, it's not your business.😊. Please check your heart and ask yourself why you're asking her that question. Hmm....

4. Stop telling her that she has to forgive him and that again, he's still the father of her children. Trust me, she knows. And as a Christian woman, depending on her particular story and what phase she's in, she may be struggling and asking for God's help to forgive someone who hurt her in a way you can never understand in spite of how many times you say "I know what you're going through". Let her walk through the process with God. He wants to help her. Frankly, He's the only one who can. Stop telling her that God will not forgive her sins if she doesn't forgive him. She reads the same Bible as you. She knows. And please! PLEASE!!!!! Stop comparing forgiving an ex-spouse to forgiving a business partner or a friend. It is not the same thing! And it belittles her pain. STOP IT!! Just. Stop. Also, please know that forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Even in the dictionary! And my English friends confirm this.

5. Stop telling her to just move on. Give her space and time to heal. You wouldn't tell someone who just had open heart surgery to "just move on"? Would you? Same thing. Just the invisible kind. Deep wounds need time to heal.

6.. Stop telling her that he"ll come back! She may stop talking to you for saying that! Lol. Grieving her loss is necessary. She's lost a marriage, good, bad, fake or real. She's lost her "once upon a time best friend?" Maybe. Or maybe it always sucked. Still a loss. She's lost family. She's lost a vision and dreams. Maybe she's even lost friends. She may have lost her home, finances. She may have lost her job. She may have lost her kids. Maybe she's lost everything she's known for the last xx years. Still, Don't get it twisted. And if you're Nigerian, you may not believe this. 😆But really. Truly. Doesn't mean she wants him back. Like Pastor Tony Evans said, "Satan wants to keep you looking back so that he can keep you from moving forward". Don't help Satan work in her life. Please. Don't.😆😆

7. Stop telling her that she should just go out and meet someone new! If she's a wise woman, she doesn't want to make the same mistake twice! Like one of my older aunties told me "give yourself plenty of time to heal and let God do the shopping" Sage advice 👌🏾

8. Stop calling her to tell her you heard he's doing such and such or someone told you that he said so and so. Lol! Like she doesn't have enough to deal with in her own life! Please! Get over it! He is no longer her husband and so his business is no longer her business!! Maybe you need to move on...

9. Stop telling her how amazed you are at how good she looks in spite of everything that happened! You can say she looks good, but please save the rest. Did you think she would fall down and die?? No way! She's precious, valued and loved by the God of the universe! She's a queen! And maybe one day, God will send her one of his sons, a man after His heart to love and cover her like a godly husband should his wife. Or maybe she's content in her singleness. Either way, she's just going to keep on living and being the beautiful woman she was before she met him and still is now that he's gone!

10. Do not walk up to her, look at her child and say "Wow. This child looks so much like - insert ex-husbands name-, how does that make you feel?" That's just downright thoughtless. Hopefully, by this time, she's made some strides in her healing journey and your words just roll off. And besides, like you've reminded her before, he's their father, right? Who else would her kids look like? If you have nothing uplifting to say to her, please walk on by.😉

11. Just love her and be there! Really be there for her. Make time in your schedule. Don't make her feel like she's become burdensome. This may only be a season. You may need her to do the same for you in your own season. Visit with her. Offer to watch her kids so she can go get her hair done. Remember her birthday. You may be the only one who does. Buy her chocolates on Valentine's Day (Okay, maybe just for the 1st year!😜). Don't be afraid that she's trying to steal your husband! Trust me, the last thing she wants is another woman's man. Get my drift? Divorce is a death. But it can be worse. It's like mourning the "living dead". Worse because you don't get to check the "yes" or "no" box like with a physical death; a person doesn't get to choose. Just let her know that she'll be alright. Be a shoulder for her to lean on and be there through it all. Don't stop being there. And please, instead of asking her so many questions, PRAY for her and PRAY for her children.

Ok! I'm done!😜

If I Wrote the Bible ...

If I wrote the Bible...

I'd change Luke 6:27 to read: "But, I say to you that listen, dislike your enemies, do good only to those that love you, bless those who bless you, pray for those that speak well of you..."

Because, that's what I'd rather do! Expend my emotional energy on those that care for me. Every day, I see a ton of memes on Facebook, which are mostly a variation of: "Go where you're celebrated, not where you're tolerated," or "Surround yourself with like-minded people."

There are so many catch phrases that tell us to spurn people who make our lives difficult. That's the human way but in doing so, we resist Christ's command; it's uncomfortable, it's unpleasant and who wants that?

Not me.

But if I ... if we must fully express Christ is us, that's what we should do. Not change scriptures to fit our emotions or the latest trend.

No. We should chase His will and seek His help to achieve it. I know I cant do it on my own, but with God, everything is possible. 

What would you change if you wrote the Bible? Comment below. Thanks for reading!

Stay inspired,

Onyih

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What To Do When You're Tired of Praying

I’ve always kept some sort of diary or journal from when I was in secondary/high school. It helps me stay in touch with myself; my hopes, my dreams, my victories. Last night, I was looking through my journal and I saw an entry I’d made at the beginning of this year. I’d been reading Psalm 119:81-82 and it spoke to me:

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me? Like David, I longed for God to show up in some situations I was facing. This is what I’d written:

My soul languishes for your salvation, Lord! Our hope … my hope is in your word. My eyes fail with watching for your promise. When will you comfort us? When will you deliver us? When will you fulfill your promise? When, Lord? When?

Source: BING IMAGES

Source: BING IMAGES

Honestly, I was tired of praying the same prayer for what felt like years. Which of us hasn’t been discouraged by praying for things to change? Yet, the more we pray, the more they stay the same or even get worse?

But a recent incident with my 3 year old son reminded me of a very important principle.

He loves chewing gum and I usually let him have some, now that he’s old enough not to swallow it. Recently though, my sister told me that it wasn’t good for children so I resolved not to let him chew gum anymore.

He didn’t get that memo.

“Mummy, please can I have some gum?” he asked.

I shook my head. “No, J. You can’t have any. It’s not good for you.”

“Just a little bit?” and he put his thumb and forefinger together to press his point.

I was resolute. So was he. After five days and maybe a hundred requests, the boy had worn me down with his liquid eyes and beseeching voice. Sometimes he cried when I said no, other times, he simply went about his business. But he knew what he wanted, and he asked for it every day until he got it.

Isn’t that what God says we should do? In Luke 18:1, the Bible says that “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

And when we persist in prayer, do you know what? He will give us justice! Just like it says in Luke 7-8:

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”

You may be tired of saying the same prayer over and over, but don’t give up! You may not spend two hours speaking in tongues every day, but you can pray on your bed, on your drive to work, when you’re putting your kids to sleep. You can whisper to God, even with a heart full of angst or eyes filled with tears.  God is not interested in the trappings; He is looking for sincere hearts.

Pray on. He will hear. He will answer.

Stay inspired,

Onyih 

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