February 27, 2015

My Moriah

I have always wanted to be a mother. My answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" has forever been that I want to nurture my own children, to teach them, to love them, to point them to Christ. I assumed I would get married straight out of high school and become a mother right away, hoping my life story would mimic so many mothers I admire. From the time I was six years old, I practiced mothering on whatever younger sibling or niece or nephew came along every few years. Through all of high school and college, I worked in daycares, in schools, and as a nanny, to get even more experience. I took college courses in early childhood and elementary education, attempting to be as well-prepared as possible to home educate my children.

Ten years after high school graduation, my life story was far behind the timeline I had imagined.

For a long while, I have known what I held dearer than life, what at times replaced God as my source of hope. Every sermon on idols pierced my heart because I knew the words were for me. Every song about Christ's being enough was unsingable because I knew the lyrics were not true of me. The movie Facing the Giants made me uncomfortable because of a single line in the script: “If the Lord never gives us children, will you still love Him?” If that question had been asked of me, I don’t know how I would have answered.

I have been drawn again and again to the accountof God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the child Abraham had waited a century for. Even as He voiced the order, God emphasized that Isaac was the son Abraham loved. The Hebrew word translated "love" in Genesis 22:2 means "to desire, to breathe after."2 God was asking Abraham to climb Mount Moriah, tie down the son he had desired with every breath, and kill him as an act of obedience. What kind of God requires the death of a dream? I would wonder. And the answer would come quietly: One who deserves no competition for my affection. 

The ideal of motherhood had become my Isaac, my breathed-after desire yet unfulfilled.

Over the past four years, I have trudged half-way up Moriah so many times. The best intentions at the foot of the mountain dissolved when the altar site came into view. Oh, but I have made attempts. I begged God to take away the longing for motherhood. I burned journals full of my written aspirations and hid my early childhood education books out of sight and out of mind. I immersed myself in work, hoping to be distracted, hoping to acquire a different dream.

Only recently did I make it to the top of the mountain. It took a months-long trek through the Word and prayer and angry runs in the orchard where I had tearful talks with God that ended in surrender. But God led me up that hill to a knowing—even if He never gave me children, I would still love Him. He is what I desire with every breath.

So on December 6, 2014, I wrote in my journal:
This is my Moriah.
This is where I lay the dream down.
Will You still the hand or take the life?
I will not know until I raise the knife. 

10 days later, I conceived.
23 days later, I held two positive pregnancy tests in hands trembling with disbelief.
52 days later, my husband and I first heard our baby’s heartbeat, a beautiful rhythm at 144 beats per minute.

Today I give thanks for twelve weeks of motherhood—twelve weeks and counting.

I hold this stewardship loosely even while I treasure it, for now I have been to the top of Moriah. The desire for motherhood is still alive, but is no longer what I live for.

Though my dream may have come back down the mountain with me, this Isaac is no less God’s.


1. Genesis 22
2. Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon