When I became pregnant with my son, I lost my faith in God.
The reality of that sentence makes most people feel some kind of strong emotion. From atheists, I get empathy and congratulations; from extremely religious people who don’t question their faith, and for whom motherhood is the crown and glory of womanhood, I get looks of disgust or shock; and from people who have experienced the hell of perinatal and postpartum depression and the full glory and redemption of God, I get a warm embrace and an exhale. “Yes,” they’ll say. “I know what you mean.”
My relationship with God has never been an easy one. My path has been meandering and floundering. It goes in starts and fits. I have always been searching and yearning and going through various motions of what a spiritual or religious woman should look like, and very rarely have these motions or efforts resulted in a full, grounding experience of God. But the times these rituals or performances of religiosity have resulted in the full, grounding experience of God? This is where I let out a raucous laugh and invite you to a much longer conversation. Perhaps another time.
After my daughter was born – 3 years and 2 months after my son – God saw fit to open up a piece of my heart just a little bit more. I didn’t experience the same kind of depression I did with my son. The shift has been colossal, but in the opposite direction. Instead of shutting down and dreading each day, I start my day with a softness and an eagerness, thankful for another day to more perfectly worship Him. Instead of being jarred by my baby’s cries, I most often find myself thankful that I am given a chance to love the creation as much as I love the Creator. Each disturbance or annoyance is a chance to prove to God that I am His worthy servant.
This is not to say that relaxing into the reality of God has made motherhood from a horrible, dark place that I was in atheism to a joyful walk in a rose garden with God. Rather, it is to say, that through God, I am able to see motherhood for what it is. Maybe it’s not the crown and glory of womanhood, but rather, it is a way for us to get closer to God through the challenges. Another way to say it is that God has given us the gift of motherhood as an easy way to prove our worthiness to Him and to show that we can be as patient, kind, generous and loving as we want Him to be toward us.
This is my first entry on this blog, and so I’m trying to cover a lot of ground. We need to talk about my status as a revert I suppose, and why I would rather not be thought of as a revert and just as a young Muslim mama. We need to talk about my journey with Islam as it has been full of starts and fits – go, go, go – and then traumatic distancing of myself from this religion and my Creator. We should talk about what keeps me coming back to Islam, ten years after I took my shahada. Ten years, an out-of-wedlock baby, an atheist husband; two children, two houses, a move across the country later – what keeps a young, Western feminist coming back, and back again, to Islam? We’ll go there. We’ll cover it. But not today. Today I want to express extreme gratitude that through God, I have been allowed to enjoy the challenges of motherhood, and through God, I am becoming a better mother.
Each day, each challenge, is another chance to more perfectly worship Him. What a great God we serve.