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The Most Humbling Moment of Motherhood

I never knew when I took this photo.

I never knew.


How could I have?

At only eight years old.


I am not really sure why I even took the photo.


And I am not really sure my mom appreciated it, if she saw me take it. Trying desperately to get even an hour or two of sleep after finishing an all-night shift as a nurse. Eyes barely open as she answered the phone. Actually having to sit up to answer it, from its connection in the wall.


I never knew when I took this photo.

I never knew.


I knew her heart.

I knew her love.

I knew her compassion.

I knew her faith.


Oh, her faith.

She lived her faith.

She loved her faith.

She shared her faith.

She exuded her faith.


But, I never knew her strength.


I didn’t know.


I didn’t know just how much she relied on her own Father to carry her through.


For the entirety of my childhood, I just thought of my mom as some kind of superhero.


She didn't wear a cape.

She wore scrubs as a life-long nurse.

She wore a cross necklace,

as a lifelong daughter of God.

She wore a healing heart,

as a mother of a child lost.

She wore a wig,

as a survivor of breast cancer.

She occasionally wore jewelry, heels

and makeup.


But more than anything, she wore her love.

So, so much love.


I remember days throughout our childhood when she would gate us in a room just a few feet away, so we could play, and she could snag a few moments of rest after a full night shift. But, never for long. Because mamas? They never truly sleep.


I remember her walking through the door after eight hours on her feet, and straight into our arms on Christmas morning. Not for once realizing just how much of herself she was sacrificing, to care for every ounce of us. I remember her showing up at school when we weren't feeling well; bringing us home to care for us, as she was struggling to care for herself.


I remember her cheering and screaming at every sporting event, and showering us with kisses at every awards ceremony. Never once did I see her as exhausted; I simply saw her as being there, every single step of the way.


But, still I was completely clueless.

Completely unaware.

Completely oblivious.


I never knew when I took this photo.

I never knew.


Just what kind of incredibly selfless love was always there for our family. Just what kind of exhaustion her weary body and heart felt.

Just what kind of superhuman strength she radiated.


I never knew when I took this photo.

I never knew.


Until I first walked in her footsteps, twenty years later.


Until I experienced a love so intense, that it both simultaneously broke my heart and mended it within the same exhausted exhalation. Until my body was so tired and and achy, I didn't think I could make it through the day, but somehow still managed to trudge through.


I never knew when I took this photo.

I never knew.


Just how much I would need my own Father to carry me through.


I still don't know why I ever took that photo. And I really don't know why I tucked it away inside of my Bible for over 25 years.


But, God?

God always knows.


He knew when I took this photo.

He knew.


He knew, that one day, I would need to see it. He knew that the moment I would see it again would be on one of the most challenging days of motherhood to date. One of the most exhausting. One of the weariest, in-the-trenches, kind of day; in a year of such unprecedented uncertainty.


I never knew when I took this photo.

But, He knew.

He always knew.


The moment the camera found its way into my hand that day.


It would indeed be the moment I realized, in a beautifully-magnificent-full-circle-kind-of-way, that perhaps the most humbling moment of motherhood occurs when a weary mama looks up to her Heavenly Father Above and meekly cries out, “You were right God, I can’t do this without You.”


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