This post is adapted from “The Nature of a Woman’s Nurture” by Gloria Furman in Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice, edited by Owen Strachan and Jonathan Parnell.
What Does It Mean for a Woman to Nurture?
Recently I was doing some reading and chatting with friends on Facebook when my heart was bowled over with the diversity of our experiences.
A couple of expectant parents uploaded a video of themselves slicing into a cake dyed pink inside to announce they were having a girl; a new mom wrote about her frustration with a teething baby’s cries and asked for advice; a single woman said that she had just met with some of the teen girls in our youth group; a former coworker posted a photograph of her infant with oxygen tubes in his nose and pleaded, “Please continue to pray. We are still waiting for his transplant. Not out of the woods yet”; a photo of my nephew popped up of him wearing his football uniform; an update appeared linking to a video of pro-life protesters being harassed on a college campus.
Then my son wandered into my bedroom, cheeks flushed and rubbing his sleepy eyes, and said, “I just need you, Mommy.” I walked him to the kitchen to get a sip of water, and I noticed some special pictures on our refrigerator. There was a photo of one of our seminary professors and his wife. Though they are of retiring age, they still travel back and forth to the Philippines visiting the churches they planted decades ago. I noticed a Christmas photo of our friends who are standing next to an empty chair that is waiting to be filled with their adopted son still overseas.
As I walked my preschooler back to his room, my mind wandered to a dear friend of mine, as it often does, and I prayed God would comfort her as she continues to grieve her preschooler’s death three years ago. In the shadowy bedroom, I looked over to see my daughters sound asleep, limbs adorably flailed across their beds with sheets and toys in disarray—and I felt my heart might explode. We experience so much joy, excitement and life—and so much pain, anxiety and death. What finite heart could contain all these things? How do mothers make it? In the midst of all this complexity, what does it mean for a woman to nurture?
Viewing Motherhood Through the Bible
The foundation for this topic of women and nurturing is God’s Word. We must draw implications for ourselves as God’s creation by looking first at God, our Creator.
In all our diverse life seasons and experiences, from grandmothers to baby girls in Mumbai to Mobile, the Bible contains timeless, applicable truth about the one for whom we were made. In God’s Word, we see God’s good design for manhood and womanhood: The triune God made men and women in his image to display his glory. We miss the point of womanhood when our understanding is handcuffed to matters of culturally based stereotypes, mere biology or procreative abilities.