When you need a little comfort

I wake, anxious, to a day filled with things that feel too big for me. I take some slow, deep breaths to calm my nervous system, stretch to release the tension that I’m carrying in my neck, feel the bed firm beneath me. I notice where my thoughts are racing ahead and making things seem bigger than they are.

All of this helps—a little. 

But what I really need is to know myself held by someone wise and gentle and strong, someone who loves me and for whom this day is not too much.

I find myself praying the first lines of Ted Loder’s prayer in his beautiful book, Guerrillas of Grace:

O God,

I come to you now

as a child to my Mother,

out of the cold which numbs

into the warm who cares.

Listen to me inside,

under my words,

where the shivering is. . . (p. 22)

I linger, letting myself settle into the image of being held by the One who loves me and whispers to me, “It’s okay, little one, I’ve got you.” After a while, we turn and look at the day together, and I sense the reassurance, “It’s okay, little one, we’ll do it together.” I’m a three-year old overwhelmed at the toys strewn across the floor, and what looked to my small eyes like an impossible task now becomes manageable as someone bigger, someone who loves me and has done this a million times before, begins to scoop toys from the floor and put them in their places, pointing out a puzzle and a book for me to put back on the shelf, a train for me to put in the basket. This day is no harder for God than it is for a mother to put together a twelve-piece puzzle and place it back on the shelf.

We long for love in its many forms, but there are times of particular vulnerability when only a mother’s love will do. Sometimes that tender wisdom and gentleness and care can be provided by another woman a little older than me, and sometimes I, a woman made in the image of our gentle God, can offer that care to another. But there are times God wants to meet our needs for nurture directly, and I’m so grateful that, though God refers to himself in Scripture as Father, he also gives us many mothering images, reminding us that God is neither male nor female, but the complete and perfect Parent who welcomes and cares for us with the best traits of both mother and father.

God is like an eagle stirring up her nest and hovering over her young as she teaches them to fly (Deut. 32:11), and a mother hen protectively snuggling her chicks under her wings (Ps. 91:4, Luke 13:34). God is a mother in the pains of childbirth (Deut. 32:18, Is. 42:14), unable to forget her newborn child (Is. 49:15). And when God proclaims to Moses who God is, the first word God uses to describe God’s self is “compassionate,” or, in Hebrew, rachum, sister to racham, or womb (Ex 34:6). At the heart of God’s character is a love so gentle, so patient and attentive, that God pictures it for us as womb-love, the love of a mother for her newborn child. It is a love that celebrates when we are glad, and aches with us when we hurt, holding out open arms and cuddling us close and wiping away our tears.

For this is what the LORD says:

“. . . As a mother comforts her child,

so I will comfort you. . .” (Isaiah 66:12-13)

As you notice the mothering aspects of God’s character, what stirs within you? Are there fears? Questions or confusions? Hopes or longings?


Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Dianne Horne

    Thanks for your email. I’d so enjoy a cuppa tea with you if ever in Australia.
    Your comments today and sharing about God’s mothering qualities are priceless…like hugging a teddy bear when we were wee little kids.
    Keep up the “quality writing” you do…..it’s EXCEPTIONAL ??☕☕
    With appreciation for you
    Dianne Horne

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks Dianne. Would be lovely to meet if we’re ever in the same bit of the world.

  2. Barbara Abraham

    Thank you, Carolyn, for your emails. I cannot begin to tell you how eagerly I await their arrival and how they feed my heart and soul. You write so beautifully and with such depth and emotion that I’m often reduced to tears……They always seem to hit the nail on the head!!
    Thank you for the time you devote to the writing.

    Like Dianne, if you’re ever in England ??????? please let me know, as I’d love to meet with you.

    With grateful thanks,

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      I’m so glad you find them helpful, Barbara. And yes, it would be lovely to meet you as well if we’re ever in the same part of the world!

  3. Elaine Lewis

    Hi Carolyn, I, too, find your blogposts inspirational. I often picture myself under God’s wings or held in His hands. I would love to share this on my Facebook page. Is there some way I can do that?
    Elaine 🙂

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks Elaine. I’m sorry for the difficulty sharing on FB right now. I’m working to get the sharing icons back on my posts but haven’t figured out how yet since none of the usual things seem to be working. In the meantime, the easiest thing to do is to copy the address of the post you want to share (For this one it’s http://hearingtheheartbeat.com/2019/02/11/when-you-need-a-little-comfort-2/ ) and paste it into FB. It should show up there along with a preview of the post. Let me know if you have any problems. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Elaine Lewis

    Worked perfectly, thanks, Carolyn!

    1. hearingtheheartbeat


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