“Making the decision to have a child . . . is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
Elizabeth Stone


To become a mother is to risk heartbreak. Or, rather, to guarantee it. Sure, there are also joys so intense you feel like you might explode. But motherhood inevitably means sleepless nights rocking a crying baby, or waiting for the soft click of a teenager’s key in the door, or praying, praying, praying for a _________ child. You fill in the blank. Because when our children hurt, we hurt. We want only the best for them, and as much as we’d love to control what touches their lives, we know we can’t.

But there is good news. We live in a broken and scary world, but we live here by the purposeful design of a sovereign and loving God.

Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

His eye is on the sparrow. We love that image, but we seem to forget that the verse doesn’t say sparrows won’t fall. Only that God is there — aware and in control — when they do.

So, what are we to do when our Father wills that our own precious sparrows drop from the sky? How do we live without fear in a world where a loving God knows and sees, and yet sparrows do fall?

Everyone has a story. You have one, and I do, too. Some of the chapters of my story are filled with wonderful delights, and some are like walking barefoot over shards of glass. If it were up to me, I would leave those painful chapters out, but as I consider my life so far, I realize the hardest parts of the journey have been gifts. Good gifts from a good God who never calls us to suffer without purpose.

On May 10 of 1996, our first-born son Jacob celebrated his fifteenth birthday, and I remember the pride and joy I felt. He had good friends, his faith in God was blossoming, and he seemed blessed with unlimited potential. My mother heart overflowed with gratitude.

Two weeks later? He lay in ICU, in a coma, breathing with a respirator. It was an end-of-school outing at the lake. No one saw what happened, but after piecing everything together, we realized he’d been under water at least ten minutes. Doctors predicted he would never wake up.

This wasn’t the way we’d expected Jacob’s story to go.

If you drop a pebble in water, ripples are set in motion. But let’s say it’s not a pebble. Let’s say it’s a priceless jewel. Something you dearly love. Something irreplaceable. You’ve spent your life trying to protect it, and now, due to circumstances beyond your control, it’s gone. You stare in disbelief at the spot where it went down, wishing you could press rewind or wake up and realize it’s all just a horrible nightmare, but you can’t, and it isn’t.

At this point, you have a choice. You can keep staring at the spot where your treasure sank,or you can watch the ripples to see what God is doing.

Because He is always doing something beautiful. And your story? The one that feels like it just went desperately wrong? It’s part of a much greater story—the one in which God makes all things new.

Jacob is thirty-four now—a precious, brain-injured young man with a faith that is startling in its radiance. The ripples set in motion more than nineteen years ago continue to spread far beyond our wildest imagination. No, it’s not the story I would have chosen, but God is bringing to pass plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness. He takes all our brokenness and transforms it until it shines with a beauty we never could have dreamed possible.

Motherhood may cost us everything, but it gives back a thousand fold. Let’s not be afraid to let our hearts go walking.

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Jeanne Damoff is a writer and speaker, serves with local refugee and special needs ministries, and loves to help people find beauty and purpose even in their most broken places. She endeavors to be present in every moment, to see God’s image in every person, and to discover His gifts everywhere. Jeanne is grateful to be a wife, mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, and friend. She blogs at The View From Here.

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