Transformation can happen quite quickly: a baby bump finally pops out, suddenly leaving those previous pants impossible to wear. Birth, though intense, realistically takes only a matter of hours, not weeks. In an instant I meet my baby for the first time, and something inside of my heart cracks open. I am transformed.
Transformation also happens slowly. Almost without seeing the change. It’s how I become more confident with myself as a mother of two, and three. It’s becoming a master in my field through endless days and nights of practice, perseverance, making mistakes, and trying again. It’s the effect of simply staying in the game, as opposed to, you know, abandoning my children entirely. The things that used to crumble my heart eventually become no big deal. I have transformed. I have grown up. My capacities have stretched broader than ever. Or at least, that’s the goal, anyway.
This slower transformation is largely mental. It’s a renewing of the mind. It’s getting used to the task at hand, when it is the awful requirement of getting up again in the middle of the night to care for a crying person. It takes practice. It takes time to get good at. And I think this long term transformation is what God was getting at when he said in the Bible:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
It takes time to test and approve God’s will in my life. We all go through seasons of not knowing what His direction is for us, and it takes time to test different avenues to find which is the right way.
It’s just like my kids go through times of “testing” my own will for them as their mom. They are looking for the boundaries of the right way for them. Even though its more in the spirit of “What can I get away with?” and less “What would you have me do, dearest mother?” Same thing. It all takes time. It takes loads of time to parent my children in the way of becoming socially responsible, conscientious, caring, obedient little people. And it takes loads of time for myself to transform into a confident, patient, focused, flexible Mama.
Another angle of transformation can be called “adjustment.” Adjustment usually refers to the aftermath of a dramatic terrible change. As in, during the grieving process of losing someone or something dear to us. But adjustment is just as much a part of transformation as is getting exactly what we want. I would venture to say there are humongous aspects of motherhood that require of us both grieving and adjustment. I get the little love that I’ve always wanted to cuddle in my arms. But I have to adjust to her sleeping schedule, to her nursing schedule, to her completely selfish demands on my time.
Adjustment means grieving the loss of getting my own way.
It means changing my plans for the day, when my kids throw a wrench in my perfectly thought-out systems.
And so adjusting becomes a surrendering of my own will – of my own idea of how things should go – and dealing with the reality of what’s being thrown at me at the moment: whether that be spit-up, or pureed carrots, or temper-tantrums.
Ladies, this seems to be the engine of transformation: surrender. It’s the decision to let go. And in the moment, it feels like failure. It’s the inglorious underbelly of the hard hard work of motherhood – and of the Christian walk. Isn’t there just so much surrender in both?
One of my favorite things is how very inter-dependent both aspects of my life are. Mothering my perfect, adorable, selfish little children pushes my buttons so hard that I run to the cross for help on a daily basis. I know, first-hand, how wretched I am as a result of motherhood. But motherhood has also shown me an aspect of God’s care taking heart for me as I have experienced that heart for my children as well. I’ve learned more about his protective, nurturing, jealous, tender heart towards me, as my mama hormones fiercely bond with mfy own children. It’s like oxytocin comes down from heaven itself.
Transformation seems to me like the guts of life. When I come upon an insurmountable task, I must let go of my limited capacities, and see what else might work, in order to keep living. I must cry out to the Lord, and accept whatever he cooks up for me: the great big helpings of provision and direction that I’ve never tasted before. There is nothing easy about transformation. Indeed, it’s only necessary because this whole motherhood business is downright impossible to take in all at once. So then, unprecedented changes must be made, slowly. It is good. It is not failure. It is surrender. And I can only attempt such a dangerous idea if I am assured of God’s goodness, his bigness, and his fiercely doting mama-heart toward me, his little girl.