I think generally I'm a pretty sane person (relatively speaking). I've had my share of ups and downs, but overall I think I handle most things pretty well. However, going into my surgery, I wasn't so sure what to expect of my reaction afterwards. What is a young woman supposed to do when she's never been married, never had kids, and faces the prospect of a radical hysterectomy? How is she supposed to feel?
Prior to surgery, I wasn't upset about the prospect of losing my uterus. In fact, the very first day I met my oncologist, I was on a mission to make sure he knew that I was not attached to my reproductive system. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was free to remove whatever needed to be removed if it meant I'd be that much closer to becoming cancer-free. You see, I'm in my mid-thirties with no immediate prospects of getting married and even if I were looking at marriage now, I'm really not interested in having kids at this stage of my life anyway. Besides, I had always thought that if I had gotten married earlier in my life that I would've wanted to adopt anyway. So, for several valid reasons, I was not concerned in the least before surgery about retaining my ability to have children. I hoped, of course, that I wouldn't somehow wake up from surgery with a changed mind.
Even though I normally handle most things pretty logically (or at least I think I do) and I don't usually change my mind on things, I was concerned that somehow in the wake of major surgery and with the sudden onset of menopause, I'd find myself being unnaturally emotional about losing a key part of myself that, at least physically, makes me uniquely feminine. Though I told no one, I had a secret fear that I would wake up mourning over some new-found longing to bear children of my own. Would I somehow feel like less of a woman?
Well, I didn't... and today I came to the clear realization that I won't!
In my women's Bible study group, we're reading through a book called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. Women, if you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. This is my second time going through it and I'm still gleaning much from it. It's had a huge impact on how I see myself (more to come on that later). Anyway, we're going through this book and today we read a chapter on Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters. My knee-jerk inclination was to groan when I read that... but as it turns out I was feeling really uplifted by the end of our time together. A portion of this chapter put in a nutshell all that's been swirling around in my mind these past months regarding motherhood. Check it out -
"All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions, to ministries. We birth life in others by inviting them into deeper realms of healing, to deeper walks with God, to deeper intimacy with Jesus. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically borne a child. The heart and life of a woman is much more vast than that. All women are made in the image of God in that we bring forth life. When we enter into our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them."
I couldn't have stated it any better myself. I don't mourn the fact that I'll never bear children of my own physically. I've just never been that girl! I look at my life and realize simply that my calling is different than that. Even though I'll never be able to do the one thing that most women long for with every fiber of their being... even though that's not even a part of the fabric of who I am, I know in my heart of hearts that I still have a similar calling... and one that's just as valuable, too! Like so many women of Scripture (Naomi, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Lois, Eunice... and so many more), I want to be a woman who brings life with her wherever she goes. I want people to feel uplifted after they've been with me... not because of me really, but because of the Life-Giver that lives within me. I want to be the kind of woman who imparts something of value into this world - a woman who changes people's lives for the better and leaves an indelible imprint of the Lord on them after she's gone.
Giving life is so much more than bearing children. Motherhood extends beyond bloodlines. I envision a day, if I'm around long enough, that I can say I have many sons and daughters... a day when I will be remembered fondly as someone who imparted life to many... in spite of the fact that I don't have a uterus! I want to be like my Savior who came saying, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).