A few weeks ago as I sat during a session at one of the female correctional centres, I looked around and considered all the pain that echoes through the stories of these lives. We were talking about parenting – about mothering, and I thought of all the lost children. I thought of all those babies that died before they ever were, their small fragile lives snuffed out by abortion, abuse or miscarriage. I thought of those that were murdered, some by outsiders and some by their own mothers. I thought of the many, many children represented by their mothers in this room that are living their lives abandoned; some without hope of ever seeing or knowing their mothers at all.
I surveyed the room and considered the pain of all the mistakes and failings that could never be undone. And, as I thought of the pain and despair, almost seeing it like a huge black mass hanging in the middle of the room, I saw another force. A bigger more awesome force, a brilliant light that overcomes the black mass.
That Tuesday, with mother’s day just around the corner, I thought about what this picture meant to all of us. What do those lost children represent in my life and in yours? What are the mistakes that you still live with? What are the things you have lost? A dream, hope, ambition or calling you have given up on? A relationship deeply wounded? A regret that you still live with? A pile of grief, shame and anger that you still carry around? Do you tell yourself that you don’t deserve any better? That change isn’t possible?
I’ve heard some unimaginable stories from some of these ladies. From some I’ve heard stories that are painfully familiar and far too common. But what stands out is the things that I have seen GOD do despite the pain, shame, bitterness and loss.
Once paralysed by the fear of not being good enough, failing or being let down again; these women chose to take courage. The power of redemption is found in taking the risk of faith to pick yourself up and start. Start to face the demons of your past and your inner turmoil. Choose the road of faith – Faith in a God that is able to do more than we ask for or imagine.
I have seen families reunited after decades apart. I have seen marriages reconciled. I have seen lives set free from shame, anger, pride, self-hatred, lies and rejection. I have seen those same lives renewed, healed, and restored; filled with joy, purpose and hope. What I have seen is God cleaning hands that once caused hurt, and turning them into hands that heal. A room full of women who knew that with God, it was not too late to still be a mum.
And what about you? Do you believe that you can still be the birthing place of good things? Can you see the promise of wholeness and renewal set before you in the Son of God? Take some time to consider the hugeness of God’s love, and how the worst destruction of the enemy pales in comparison. Refuse to remain paralysed, and trust God for deeper healing, forgiveness and restoration. Just start.
We have journeyed with these 35 ladies for more than a year and on Sunday May 28th, celebrated a special dedication service as a conclusion to the weekly sessions with this group. I watched with tears in my eyes as mothers held their children and worshiped God together with them (for most it was the first time they had ever done this). I watched children longingly clinging to their mothers, and I watched some of them cry tears of joy at knowing that their mums had been changed. One by one, I watched mothers bring their children (of all ages) to the front to dedicate them to God. They also dedicated themselves as mothers, committing to a renewed way of life – The promise of restored mothers.
I think to myself, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.” (Psalm 145:3)