It’s no secret that motherhood is challenging. It’s the most challenging job I’ve ever experienced. Still, it wasn’t like this was any sort of well-kept secret. People told me it would be tough, that there would be days when I would just want to cry and tear my hair out all at the same time. Just like they told me that marriage would have it’s rough patches, but for some reason I never listened to them. I guess I just thought they were exaggerating or too cynical or whatever.

The truth is they were all right. There is one thing that they didn’t tell me, though. One aspect that I wasn’t prepared for. That was how much the trials and victories of motherhood would alter my spirituality.

Let me begin with pregnancy, I can’t say that I was one of those women who experienced the all-joyful “glow” so many had promised. In fact most days pregnancy was a burden I tried to ignore.

SEE ALSO: How Having a Baby Ruined My Marriage

Now before you read this and get all uppity allow me to clarify…I love my baby. I have always loved her. I just wasn’t enamored with the toll it took on my body and my hormones to bring her into this world. Yet no matter how much I tried to ignore my growing belly, the Lord was always there to gently remind me of the privilege it was being pregnant. With each passing trimester, and each pair of jeans that had to be retired for this season of life God was always calling to my mind how lucky I was to be graced with the honor of growing and sustaining life for another immortal soul.

Stop and think about that.

During those nine months, a mother is the carrier of both her and her child’s soul. A soul! A soul that is unique. A soul that holds an irreplaceable spot in history. One that is created for a specific purpose, a purpose no other soul could carry out. A soul that is destined for sainthood – created to spend eternity in ultimate union with the Father. It’s a mother’s exclusive privilege to care for this soul and grow in love with her child while in utero.

That is an astounding thought and honor only a mother can know.

The first few weeks home with baby J are like nothing I’ve experienced before. The days and nights run together and the earliest memories of parenthood have lived up to all the hype of being REALLY HARD WORK.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Having a Baby [Video]

Motherhood has required an emptying of myself for the good of my daughter, not just physically but emotionally too. The hours I’ve spent worrying about her, dreaming of what her future will hold surprise even me (a self-proclaimed over thinker). Imagine how much more the Father concerns Himself with our affairs.

Just as I seek to protect her from every hurt, misguided step and heartache so the Lord does for His children even more perfectly. Just as I stare deeply into her blue eyes dreaming of the women she will become so also God does. He preciously holds our hopes and dreams in His heart for each one of us.

Baby J

Our beautiful girl dreaming

And then there is nursing…my kryptonite.

While some women may cherish this experience with their babies my journey has been unexpectedly much more challenging. From the excruciating pain and fevers of recurring mastitis to the toe-curling, razor-sharp stinging from blisters to the endless hours spent trying to work out plugged ducts.

Nursing has been no walk in the park.

But in the seldom quiet moments while J sleeps and I am left with the Lord, He sweetly comforts me with the knowledge that He also suffered for me…suffered far greater than I do even on my worst days. There is something so incredible yet terrifying in knowing that this is what my daughter’s growth and development require. My body alone sustains her.

Of course, I know there is always formula, but so far she has been exclusively breastfed. On my good days, this is an incredible, empowering thought and on my weaker days…well, I only nurse out of necessity.

Though the physical pain and challenges of nursing can be burdensome, the burden of the Cross was that much more. While mothers around the world physically and emotionally empty themselves for their children, so Christ emptied Himself for us on the cross. He did not hold back. He gave us every ounce of Himself, every drop of bloodshed knowing that it was what love required.

Some may ask why I would continue to succumb myself to such pain (I often wonder myself) and the only answer I can muster up is that the job is not finished. I am not trying to sound like a martyr or put myself on some sort of maternal pedestal…far from it. I’m simply sharing my experience as it has played out so far.

Despite all the heartache, pain and sacrifice motherhood has entailed (and will continue to) there is glory in seeing her thrive just as there is glory in the Cross. A glimpse of her smile or the deep soul-searching eye contact she’ll make as if communicating her need for me. Those moments make me weak and give me the boost of encouragement I need to carry on…recognizing how much I need her too.

Our Lord must feel something similar. After our countless mistakes and follies, He continues to pull us out of our sin in the hope that He will see a glimpse of something more…the glory and plan He has in store for us.

These two short months of motherhood have taught me so much…about myself…about God, and I know that the lessons have only just begun.

It is a yes to entering into the redemptive suffering of Christ. How dare I let that suffering be wasted on griping and complaining. Rather, may I have the strength and virtue to lift others up in prayer so we may both grow closer to salvation.