A number of years ago a very smart friend of mine introduced a concept to me that has been tickling my brain ever since. She suggested that if the Father portion of the Holy Trinity embodies the characteristics of a father, it might be suggested that the Holy Spirit embodies those of a mother. I’ve heard of people who struggle to relate to God as a good father because they have deep rooted dad issues. I, on the inverse, have struggled deeply with trusting, understanding, and accepting the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is the part of my faith which has always made me uncomfortable. I’m exploring the possibility that this could be related to some of my mommy issues.
When I had my first son, I was so full of ideals and hope for the mother I could be. But when the mean, dailiness of a new mother’s reality set in, I realized that my idealism was no match for my lack of know how. When my husband taught me how to change the first diaper of my first born son, the reality of my unpreparedness sunk in. I had no idea what I was doing.
All of my ideas about the mother I wanted to be were pieced together like a Frankenstein quilt from glimpses into functional families. I based so much of what I knew about being a good mother from Marmee of Little Women or from my friend’s mom who had 10 children. I wanted to be Caroline Ingalls, Mother Theresa and Mary Poppins all wrapped up in a nice package; practically perfect in every way. But, when I was a tiny toe-headed girl, my family was torn apart leaving me to wonder and to guess what a mother really was. There was a terrific, black hole there and it left me hungry. Over the years, I filled that deficit with a fierce determination to reject weakness (I saw femininity as weakness) and to make my dad proud. I poured myself into the logical. The tangible. The safe. All the while, I loved God with all of my heart. At the risk of sounding cliche, God was my best friend and I was all in for walking my life with him. But there was a deficit in my life and the more I avoided the Holy Spirit the more I felt that deficit.
I think we are so quick to get caught up on the “masculine” nature of God that we forget that in spite of the pronoun “he” God isn’t inherently masculine any more than he is feminine. He is. And that is all. There is nothing vague or ambiguous or dodgy when God answered Moses’ answer to what his name was that he said simply, “I Am the I Am”. He is not to be pegged by our own descriptions of the nature of things because he simply too expansive to peg. I’ve always found it easy to accept the awesome, powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent nature of God. He is a lion and I love that, I get that. But he is also a zephyr, gently blowing words of wisdom into my soul. He is a mother bird tenderly gathering his little ones under the warm protection of his wings. He is like a mother walking beside her weaned child. These are the kinds of things that I would read about in the Bible and it would stir up feelings of longing that would make me profoundly uncomfortable.
Back to the birth of my first son. I found myself to be a mother of a high maintenance little boy and with very little in my tool belt. Just as I think I would never figure out how to be a mom I found myself pregnant with my second baby. Two babies and still no clue about what I was doing. Enter depression. I would call it postpartum depression though I had struggled with depression in some form for the majority of my life. I was looking at life through a gray filter. My little ones were both in diapers and I had a very hard time going places because I was so unsure of how to manage them. That isolation, self-doubt and sleep depravation plummeted me further into depression. I began to think thoughts of death. To daydream of release. When I realized that there is a word for that kind of longing. Suicide.
Thinking these thoughts startled me into doing something I had never done before. I sought help. Contrary to my nature, I went to a women’s Bible study at our church. My walls of defense were lowered as I found myself in the presence of women full of stunning beauty and grace. They spoke to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. I was hungry for help so in my shy way I told the ladies that I was struggling so badly with depression that I hardly wanted to draw breath anymore. What happened next was a miracle. Without hesitation, after hearing my heart cry, the women gathered around me, laid hands on me (I normally don’t like being touched), and prayed for healing for my mind and heart. Each lady in turn prayed for full healing for me and I was overwhelmed by the soft and maternal care they issued to me. More than that, I was overwhelmed by the presence of God’s sweet Holy Spirit. It was that day, after a lifetime of depression and gnawing sadness, I was healed. Fully and completely.
I’m on a hunt for wisdom about the creative, gentle, lovely nature of God that he imparted on womenkind and which I understand so little. I beg your patience as I use my dinky little blog to pursue these mysteries and discuss what I learn. And I long for dialogue. What are your thoughts, dear reader? How has motherhood affected your views of the nature of God?
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