Last week, a female athlete made the news with one provocative statement: “I feel like I was born to have babies.”
The words came from professional beach volleyball player, three-time gold medalist and mother of three, Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Her words made a stir among those who refuse to associate reproduction with the purpose of one’s life, but it occurred to me many of the women I know actually share Kerri’s feelings. I know I did.
I grew up as the oldest of four children. And while I was interested in getting a degree and pursuing a career, I always assumed I’d have the babies, too — preferably by age 25. But life didn’t work out that way. Instead, when I was 25, I was single, enjoying a flourishing career and trying to suppress those longings to be a wife and mom.
Around that time something happened that changed my perspective. I was working for Focus on the Family’s children’s magazines, and my supervisor gave me a Mother’s Day Card. Inside she had written: “Thanks for being a spiritual mother to thousands of children.” I hadn’t thought of my job as mothering, and yet my coworker affirmed that’s exactly what it was.
I viewed my childless life differently after that. I began to see all of the children God had placed in my life to nurture: nephews and nieces, my friends’ children, the kids in the Sunday School class I taught, even a teen I met for coffee once a week. And then God handed me a new motherhood challenge: He led me to take that teen girl into my home. (I like to joke that I first learned how to parent from watching Gilmore Girls.) I wasn’t her actual parent, of course, but God allowed me to stretch my mothering muscles as I set up house rules, cooked dinners for two and drove her to and from her job.
I didn’t view these experiences as a consolation prize for not being a mom yet. They were God’s gifts and a chance for me to live in ways I had been created for — long before I became someone’s actual “Mommy.” As I embraced my nurturing side with other people’s children, I had less fear about never having children of my own.
I feel like I was born to have babies. But what if I never have them?
God sees your longings. He created you and knows you intimately. At times, as He did with a young teenage girl in my own life, He can provide exactly what you need to live the full reality of who He’s made you to be. If He created you with a heart that longs to nurture and protect, He will put people in your life to nurture and protect, even if they don’t come in the form you expect them to. Be willing to see where God is trying to redirect passions or desires that you may think can only be filled in a particular way.
And remember that empty, aching place in your heart does not surprise or scare Him. Those unfulfilled longings that keep you up at night hurt God’s heart as well, and one day they may be filled in abundance — or maybe they won’t. Regardless, God’s love for you remains the same — in the meeting of the desire and in the withholding of it. You are intentionally created and deeply loved, and even while those longings are still unmet, take hope and purpose in seeing His fingerprints in these areas.