Written by Bonnie Pue
Becoming a mother has been one of the most vulnerable experiences of my life. It involved a psychological battle I had not anticipated. My husband and I married young, and three months into our newlywed bliss, we learned I was pregnant. At the 16-week ultrasound, we saw that it was not one little babe, but two. Twins!
We celebrated, though it was an overwhelming thought for sure. My father-in-law swore a little when we called to tell him. I don’t blame him. He knew the cost of parenthood better than we did, and we weren’t exactly “ready” in the traditional sense of the word. Not wealthy. Not set up in our own home with the idyllic spare room that could be converted into a nursery. I was working at Starbucks. My husband could barely grow a beard.
In the following months, my body transformed. Though I was beyond excited, one thing that surprised me was the fear of rejection that crouched in the shadows of my mind. Would my new husband still find me attractive when my skin was all stretched out? Would he still want me when my hips widened and I began to waddle?
What about our marriage? The cement had barely hardened on our new commitment to one another. Would our love sustain us, even if my libido dropped? What if he decided that financially supporting us was just too much of a burden? What if the addition of these babies would be the destruction of this amazing “dream come true” relationship between us? I had heard so many stories of single mothers who were shocked by their new-found circumstances. How could I know we would make it?
Then there were my personal aspirations that must certainly now be placed on the back burner. I dreamed of furthering my education, of communicating the Word of God, and of international missions work. How long would it be until I’d be able to experience those things again?
Yet, two little ones were growing within me.
Even before there was any visible sign, their presence was altering my entire life. I had nausea and fatigue unlike anything I had experienced before. Next I felt their fluttering kicks and then their rambunctious somersaults. I impatiently waited for the day when I could see their faces and begin to watch who they were unfold right in front of me.
I was experiencing a battle within me. “Me, the Individual” versus “Me, the Mother.”
It would take some time before the two would find a way to merge. Or perhaps for this new, foreign aspect of me to engulf the familiar. I wonder sometimes why such a significant transformation isn’t talked about more openly. Every pregnant mother faces it, each with their unique circumstances and perspectives.
In these last weeks and months, news feeds have been flooded with debate around Roe vs. Wade in the United States. Pro-choice versus pro-life. Names are called, assumptions are made, and ultimatums are given.
I personally agree that legislation should exist to protect every human life, from the youngest to the oldest. But this is not an issue that exists in the vacuum of “women’s health care.” This is a matter of the heart.
As the people of God, we can make a difference by supporting local crisis pregnancy centres and by advocating for adoption and foster care. When a woman discovers she is pregnant, we want her to rest in the knowledge that she does not need to face it alone.
But it can’t stop there. Just as I had to wrestle through my own fears and face the reality of the cost of parenthood, each new mother must do the same. If we are to represent the heart of God on earth, we’ll need to bring a radical message to this generation.
I believe we need voices in our culture that affirm and convince every mother that her new role is irreplaceable. She must receive the encouragement that if she will pour herself out for the sake of a child—though her personal aspirations may be limited or delayed—she will have an unexplainable joy watching her child’s destiny unfold.
In our culture, children are seen as a liability and a nuisance. But counter to our modern ideas, in Psalm 127 when God says that children are a blessing and a reward, He really means it. In my experience, the more I believe His word on the matter, the more my behaviour aligns, and the more I’m able to see the gift that my children are.
Our attitude also needs to change when it comes to body image. Every woman’s value extends far beyond her physical appearance. Though her body will change, true beauty is deeper than skin.
Every little girl should be blessed and honoured for her entire childhood. In adolescence, when her beauty shifts to include a sexual attraction, that one aspect of who she is shouldn’t dominate her identity. That way, at times in her life when she no longer feels “sexy,” she remembers her deeper value. (While we are at it, we should likely topple the pornography industry as well to end the steady stream of propaganda trying to force people to live with unrealistic, ultra-sexy personas.)
Finally, men of all ages must be invited to live lives of commitment and consequence when it comes to their relationships and sex lives. It’s time for Christian communities to be the very place where boys with undisciplined appetites can be coached to be men of honour and sacrifice. We’d say “no more” to one-night stands, abandonment, coerced abortions, or guilt trips about failed birth control. When men lean into their role as fathers, it brings freedom for women who are mothers.
Even as I write the words, I’m aware of how impossible this kind of grassroots, cultural transformation would be. How can we possibly achieve it? It can be tempting to give up even before we start.
But then, I am reminded of the stories of revivals and moral awakenings from previous centuries, and I am encouraged to lean in and offer what little I have to the movement. We want every woman to be convinced that she has purpose and a fixed value, confident that she is not alone in her journey. We want every child to grow up with support systems to care for him or her with dignity and love. This is pro-life.
Bonnie Pue is a mother of six and co-founder of The Union Movement along with her husband, Bryan. The Union Movement exists to help people find wholeness in the areas of identity, sexuality, and relationships with a gospel-centred approach. You can find more from her on Instagram at @theunionmovement and @bonniepue.