Almost six months ago, God gave me the greatest gift I've ever received besides salvation and an amazing husband: a son.
Sheridan Steele Colter, born at 8 pounds and half an ounce after 30 hours of labor, is truly an answer to innumerable prayers. He is "my sunshine," and I'm continually in awe of the miracle of his life each time I whisper my love in his ear, stroke his strawberry-blonde hair and tickle his tiny toes.
I've wanted to be a mom as far back as I can remember. My own mother modeled the role with excellence, and I grew up wanting to be just like her. When I married a strappingly handsome seminarian, I naively thought my dream of motherhood was just around the corner.
Early in our marriage, however, God allowed my husband and me to experience the loss of precious life through miscarriage. Years that felt like decades passed, and with each one, we became a little less confident that we would ever become parents to biological children. In fact, my hurting heart said, "Well, if I can't have a baby, can I at least have a puppy?"
So we bought a little white Maltipoo off Craigslist in a Walmart parking lot during a thunderstorm.
Shortly after that, my husband and I were in near disbelief and cautiously elated when a positive result registered on an at-home pregnancy test. We cried tears of joy that were every bit as wet and salty as those we'd shed over our previous losses, and we handled the budding life with the kind of gloved-hand care a museum curator uses to handle rare, ancient artifacts.
Months later, six days after his due date, our precious son arrived, a gift who shines brightly in my life, and all the brighter juxtaposed with the dimness that came before him. I want to be sure "to forget not all [the Lord's] benefits" (Psalm 103:2) and to thank God for the graciously sweet gift of a child.
Yet, my heart remains bruised for those who approach Mother's Day with deep sadness. Some have experienced the loss of their own mother. Some have had to bury children. Some have grieved through the pain of miscarriage. And some have watched the dream of parenthood die. Scripture tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice" and to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), and on Mother's Day, we have the opportunity to practice both ends of that command. It seems to me that most of us have an easier time with the rejoicing part, but it's the bearing one another's burdens portion that can prove a bit more difficult. Here are just a few thoughts on how we might do that this year:
1. Don't try to fix it. You can't, so just don't. Only God can administer the "peace which passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Tell hurting friends you are praying for them, and then don't forget to do it. Consider sending a snail mail card or even a text message to someone after you have prayed, letting them know you did so. Often, that will arrive at just the right moment to encourage your friend's heart, and your friend will no doubt be grateful that you've approached the Lord on their behalf.
2. Create an environment where they are welcomed to rejoice with you in your celebrations. Don't think that just because they are hurting they will not want to share in your times of rejoicing. Think less about the fact that it might make you feel awkward that you have been given a blessing they would love to have, and more about the fact that they might love to have something to celebrate along with you, even in the midst of their own pain.
3. Give them space. After you have created a welcoming environment for them to join in with you, respect the fact that they might wish to step back for a moment. There is not one single way to grieve -- some people might desire a bit of space to themselves as they work through their pain. This is one of those times when sending a card might be the way to go. There is nothing intrusive about an envelope with a note of care being delivered to their mailbox, but it certainly lets your friend know you have thought of them.
4. Don't do nothing. Horrible grammar, I know. But, truly, this is not one of those if-you-just-ignore-something-it-goes-away type things. Your friend is hurting, and even though you cannot take away their pain, you can acknowledge it. Be honest with your friend that you don't know what to say but that you want them to know you are there for them.
As I finish typing this, my son is squealing with delight in his swing next to my rocking chair. He is a beautiful gift and the "joy" that has come in my "morning" (Psalm 30:5). I'll celebrate being his mom this year, thanking the Lord for His faithfulness in the darkest of times and the brightest. I pray He reveals that faithfulness to those who mourn this Mother's Day and that my celebration won't multiply their pain but instead point to a God whose character is good in the bad times and the pleasant and whose love is without end.
Sharayah Colter is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas, and owner of Colter & Co. Design.