From a Momma



Becoming a mom was the greatest joy and most clearly answered prayer I’d ever received.  Sure, I’d received answers to other prayers, but this one I could touch, I could physically hold close to my heart. There was a new meaning to my life, and a new name, Momma. 

In 1 Samuel, Hannah shared her longing to be a mother and how she felt incomplete before giving birth to her first child. She cried out to the Almighty, asking for a son, promising to one day give him back to the Lord. And she did just that, surrendered her son, Samuel, to the Lord.  

“ I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshiped the Lord there.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28, NIV).

Oh, Hannah, you made it look so easy — giving your long-awaited child back to God so willingly. 

I, for one, cannot say the same. I fought it. I yelled. I cried and used every scenario I could conjure up in my mind to discourage my daughter, Taylor, from dedicating her life to serving the very God who I raised her to know.  

Her journey would take her just under 8,000 miles from home (yes, I Googled it), and from the time she said to me, “Momma, I have something to tell you,” 8,000 or more negative thoughts may have visited my mind in those first few months that followed. Sitting across the table from her, listening as she excitedly told me how she and her husband Cooper, would make their home among non-believers, giving the two of them the opportunity to share about their love for Jesus to many who have never even heard His name.

Eyes bright and smile wide, she said to me,  “We’re going to meet new friends and love on them!”

Fighting back the tears, I thought, How will I do life without this beautiful soul nearby?

While we share a very special bond as mother and daughter, I experienced a desperately dark time very early in her life and, for a short while, she was my purpose for survival. I had returned to work when she was just 8-weeks-old and before the end of my first week back on the job, my husband told me that he was no longer was in love with me, he wanted a divorce. The next few weeks I continually asked God, “What did I do wrong? Will the hurt ever end? Why was I not good enough?”  

One evening after work, while driving home, I remember glancing back at her through the rearview mirror of my SUV, seeing that sweet face as she sat peacefully in the car seat. At that moment, I learned that I was good enough, maybe not to just anyone, but to her, I was. And to God I must have been, why else would He have given me the gift of being Momma to this tiny being who would one day worship Him from the depths of her soul? Fast forward 24 years and I was questioning God again. Did He give me enough strength to let my daughter, my answered prayer, move to an unfamiliar land thousands of miles from all that she knew? Was my soul filled with enough of Him to be so far from her?

I don’t know where it was, or even how it came about, as there was not another rearview mirror moment. Maybe it was after hours of endless tears, hard conversations, and even being really mad at God, I finally asked myself, How can I be mad? How can I question God? She was not leaving me, she was faithfully listening to God, willing to go where many won’t.  I say “won’t” rather than “can’t,” because I know that God is bigger than any ‘can’t,’ and He equips the unequipped for His work if we are just willing to say "yes." 

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.
So now I give him to the Lord."
(1 Samuel 1:27)

It was time, time to ask questions without anger, time to learn what motivated her desire to serve God so far from home.  Time to trust her decisions were selfless, rather than selfish. While my tears did not disappear in the handful of months we had before she left, they were now different tears. We poured out our hearts to each other and learned things we may not have learned about one another had she not revealed to me her plans of sharing her faith afar. We laughed over dinner and wine, teared up over coffee, opened up over books we had read together. We held hands as we walked through the parking lots of shopping centers, we joyfully anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed a mother-daughter trip to Portland, and we hugged a lot! We hugged with intensity, with purpose, knowing that one day in the near future, it would be air hugs over a computer or cell-phone screen that would have to sustain us until the next time we’d see each other in person.

It’s been less than a year since she’s been away. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday we made that last trip to Disneyland, the “happiest — and most exhausting — (yes, I did say that)  place on earth.” On the other hand, it feels like an eternity since we laughed uncontrollably after exiting that ride that left our tummies in utter chaos. 

Initially, I played it cool when she’d call from that faraway place she now calls home. I’d smile to hide the hurt and stifle the tears until the screens were closed. It took a difficult and exhausting experience for me to let my guard down and be real, and then it happened, I just fell apart during one of our skype dates. I shared with her the ugly of my day, the tears flowed freely as I poured out frustration and hurt.  When I was done with my pity party, she smiled and said: “Thank you, Momma, for being so real, for sharing your real life, that is what I want to hear.”

I miss her every day, but now, like Hannah, I can give her fully to the Lord. And while God needs her farther away than I prefer her to be, He allows her to still be that warm smile and comforting voice, that sweet face in the rearview mirror that makes me remember how much He loves me, that He blessed me with the gift of being her Momma.