The Vulnerable Truth of Motherhood

By Natalie Maxwell
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My whole life I had always struggled with letting others in. Call it being an introvert, shy, or trust issues, but somewhere along the way I realized the less I really put my heart out there, the less I would get hurt.

C.S. Lewis described it much more eloquently when he wrote

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

– Four Love, C.S. Lewis

Is there anything else that can simultaneously open your eyes to a new level of love while at the same time unlock a greater depth of fear than becoming a mother? From the moment that second line appeared on that pregnancy test I knew my heart, my mind, and my body would never be the same. God wasn’t asking me to trust Him and let someone into my heart and my life like He had done so many times before. This time He had placed someone inside of me, someone who would bare my image and my name and would forever be tied to my story. A human who would need me like no one else had, and who I could potentially hurt deeply with my actions and my words. Never before had I been tasked with a responsibility that I longed to perform with complete excellence and yet never before had I seen my weaknesses more clearly.

Is there any perspective on Earth that is more rewarding and painful than the lens of a mother? From the very beginning our stories are written with the theme of high summits and deep valleys. We can see glimpses of this in the rising and falling of contractions. We see it in the climbing and progression of labor to what feels like the most unbearable pain and yet that is a place we must go willingly for we know that God designed that scene to be the place of life, birth, and unexplainable joy.

I am convinced that if we surrender our motherhood journey to God that process never ends. We will constantly be stretched by the pain and reborn through the joy. To fail to recognize how vulnerable we are as mothers is to fail to spread our arms wide in surrender and unclench our hands around our control.

You see I didn’t learn the greatest tips and wisdom about motherhood from any best selling books, instead I found insights in a place I never would have chosen to look. The place where the truth of the vulnerability of motherhood took root in my heart was in a Children’s hospital. It was there I witnessed impossible strength as I locked eyes with other moms in the NICU as we stood over our babies. Aching empty arms, buckling knees, and eyes that had run out of tears, but yet they would still raise the corners of their lips in a smile that said more than a thousand words about what it means to be a mother.

I learned to let go of all the little things I thought were so important and instead saw them for the distraction they were, after watching a mothers face as she had to step away from her child so doctors could step in and resuscitate his heart. It was in the anguish of that moment I vowed to be grateful for every moment and every breathe after.

I am convinced that vulnerability in motherhood looks like surrendering our control and accepting our weakness so we can rest our broken yet still beating hearts on the wings of God’s strength. Vulnerability in motherhood looks like recognizing the beauty in our helplessness so we can live in the freedom of God’s peace filled guidance. Vulnerability in motherhood looks like piercing through the giants of fear with the gaze of perfect love. Vulnerability in motherhood looks like a heart without walls a heart that says even if I lose you, I’m going to love you with everything I have because you are worth it to me.

That is motherhood at its most vulnerable and I believe C.S. Lewis was right, that is selfless love.

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