I sent a text last Mother’s Day that read, “Thank you for sharing arms with me.” I included a picture of me holding Eloise. It was to her birth mom.
The woman who held Eloise close in her womb for 9 months and was the first to draw her near in her arms. The woman who outstretched those same arms to hug me and share her daughter, her own flesh and blood.
I hugged her back and imagined it being similar to hugging Eloise in a few decades. Those long, slender arms I already see on her, draping around my neck.
Eloise, the daughter whom I’ve held close in my arms, too, since just a few hours after her birth. My arms that pick her up when she trips, lift her from her crib in the mornings (and middle of the night), wrap around her when she needs comfort, snuggle her when she’s sick, and protectively hold her back from danger.
Our shared arms envelop our daughter in love and reassurance like a strong, unbroken circle of solidarity, compassion, loyalty, trust, teamwork, and commitment. We need each other’s arms.
But I’ve come to realize her birth mom isn’t the only one I share arms with and whose arms I need. I could’ve sent that text to any number of women.
My mom and mother-in-law have shared arms with me during significant points in my mothering. They share wisdom, perspective, and a helping hand however and whenever they can even though thousands of miles separate us.
My sister-in-law and friends have shared arms with me, allowing me to drop off my kids with a pack-n-play and coloring books so I could get my hair done or go to a meeting. They’ve come to rescue my kids when I was so sick I couldn’t get up off the couch or desperate for a date night or getaway with Matt.
And my sisters in Christ. Their arms have prepared and carried meals into our home, provided shoulders to cry on when I sent my babies off to Kindergarten and Jr High, and given me a tender touch of sympathetic comfort when I’ve been perplexed, discouraged, and overwhelmed in parenting.
Some have reached out their similarly empty arms to embrace mine when we together grieved a hope we buried in miscarriage, childlessness, or other unfulfilled expectation.
Others’ arms are still nurturing my kids, holding the Bible high before them and being another godly voice in their lives by teaching them in Sunday School, Community Kids, and youth group, changing their diapers in the nursery so I can listen to the Word, and taking them on informal discipleship get-togethers at Starbucks, the movies, and Rebounderz.
There are those whose arms I observe, learn from, and try to strengthen in turn, reaching out to their neighbors, linking with their unfaithful, unbelieving, or struggling husbands, opened and waiting longingly and heartbrokenly for their prodigal children to return, enduring racial misunderstanding and marginalization, working hard to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, praying for a godly boyfriend to cross paths, and asking for the illness to be cured.
Yes, a godly woman makes her arms strong (Proverbs 31:17), but she realizes they are even stronger when united with other women’s.
So, Happy Mother’s Day and thank you to Eloise’s birth mom, yes. But thank you also to the many other women who share arms with me – not just in helping with my children but also in helping me.
Virtually to most, but physically to my local CBC sisters, I’m reaching out my arms to each of you today and thanking you personally for being like our God.
You have reminded me through your arms, that his arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1), it is his arm that strengthens me (Psalm 89:21), his outstretched arm that rescues me (Deuteronomy 5:15), and his everlasting arms that are underneath me now and for all eternity (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Let’s keep our arms joined today, remembering how much we need each other. And then, let’s lift those arms and hands and “Sing to the LORD a new song. For He has done wonderful things. His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him” (Psalm 98:1) – and for all of us!