Review: Longing for Motherhood
Longing for Motherhood is not a book you would expect to find men reading and enjoying. The title indicates an emotional depth related exclusively to maternal concerns. I assure you there is a lot to this book which applies far more broadly than infertility.
I loved reading this book by my friend, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik. I got it in the mail when it was published, and was able to read it one day when my office was closed and I had the whole day set aside for reading. I started the book in the morning and couldn't put it down, finishing before I went to bed that night.
Chelsea is open and honest about the difficult and intensely emotional pain she has experienced as a woman who always dreamed of being a mother, but learned that she wasn't able to have children.
These are not dreams that I've ever shared, but I can identify with her description of the loneliness and shame that she experiences.
No one likes to talk about the pain of childlessness. It is a taboo topic. Silence is the normal reaction to the pain of infertility. Sometimes silence is replaced with a trite recitation of clichéd scriptures.
Actually I'm talking more about my own experience, now. When people learn that I am attracted to the same sex, silence is the normal reaction. Sometimes I hear trite recitations of God's word, or I'll hear an off-putting statement about how it would be great if I would find a "nice young woman" presumably to fix the problem.
These reactions to suffering are wrong. Fortunately, that is not where Chelsea goes in her book.
Chelsea walked through her own suffering by the comfort of God's truth rightly applied. She is still walking through her suffering in the same manner. And she has taken what has comforted her, and has used it to comfort others.
It is not a trite recitation of a scripture verse or two that helps Chelsea through the grief of childlessness. She describes turning consistently and repeatedly to the Psalms. She writes about the anguish she reads from the Psalmist, and how those honest cries to God in grief have encouraged her to write out her own cries to God.
In going through that anguish and grief, Chelsea has found the comfort of knowing the truth of God. By writing this book she has in turn comforted others.
This is just one way that her suffering has been redeemed. There are other ways which Chelsea describes of her suffering the sorrow of childlessness giving her opportunities to serve and bless those in her community. There is hope in the midst of suffering because of the God who is sovereign over all.
By writing about her own experience with suffering, shame, silence, the anguish of the Psalms, and the comfort and hope she found where her suffering has been and is being redeemed, Chelsea has encouraged me. My suffering is also being redeemed.
I encourage you to read this book no matter what suffering you have or have not experienced. Chelsea reflects on great truths and challenges the reader to consider the suffering of others. She also speaks to those who are in the midst of suffering, comforting us with the same comfort she has received. That comfort happens only when we are open about our suffering, and Chelsea has done a great service to the Church by modeling how to do that.