Melancholy and Hope

The air was crisp with a chill and I breathed in deep the smell of a new season as I wheeled the grocery cart to my car. Fall always smells a little like nostalgia and new beginnings woven together, doesn’t it? Melancholy and hope together in one breath.

Being the hostess for holiday meals is something I’ve done for years now. My mother became ill when I was a young girl, and she passed away several years ago. For all of my adult life, I’ve been the one to prepare the meal, create the atmosphere, set the table, and set the tone. 

I’d been planning the meal for a few weeks already and had the usual trimmings on my list: turkey, the cornbread stuffing my husband loves, corn casserole for my son, the fluffy rolls we all like, and sweet potato casserole with little marshmallows that my daughter goes crazy for. I smiled a little thinking about last year’s meal and made a mental note to get the rest of the fall decorations up. I truly savor the sacred opportunity to create beauty and memories for my husband and children.

But something about this time of year just brings it all home—the mother-wounds. They always seem to weep a little more during this season, don’t they? So many of us walk around as motherless daughters—whether from loss, illness, or a toxic relationship—and maybe we all just need to acknowledge it this year as we prepare? Maybe we just need to hear that we’re not alone.

Because the need for a mama never really goes away—the need to follow along behind footsteps a little larger than your own, to knead the bread dough beside the same hands that rocked you to sleep, to feel the sweet relief of being known and welcomed and heard. Yeah, we all need those things and we grieve when we’re reminded of the loss.

But our God makes orphaned hearts His business. It’s actually kind of His specialty, and aren’t we all orphans so deeply loved by an amazing God that He made a way to bind us to Him? We all get to be daughters, even in loss. 

There was once a woman—I think of her often and wish I knew her name—she lived a life of isolation in a culture that shunned her. Two thousand years ago, an “issue of blood” landed her firmly on the outskirts of society, so for twelve years she spent all she had—wore herself right to the bone looking for hope. 

And then one day He came. 

Hope walked down her street with a crowd trailing behind Him. And when she approached Him—bowed down deep and weary with all the pain and brokenness she carried inside—He turned right around. Without her uttering a word, He heard her great need to belong, to be known and loved, and the Word of God Himself used the word she most needed to hear: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Mark 5:34 ESV)

He not only made her well, He called her daughter. Because there’s no business more important to our God than reminding us that we’re daughters. 

The mother-wounds may always ache a little more this time of year. It may always hurt when we remember the hands that once held us or when we long for a rich relationship we’ve never known. It’s right to grieve those things. It’s always right and good to honor loss. We may not be able to bring a dish and stand at an open door with our children lined up behind us ready to be welcomed inside and that is a loss worth honoring. 

But we’ve already received a lavish response from our God—the promise that responds to all our wounds with the words we most need to hear. All of our burdens and wounds and scars are always tempered by the knowledge that He has already overcome this world and all that’s lost in it. We all get to hear the good news that by His wounds, our mother-wounds are made well and that we are, in truth, His daughters. 

And there’s always room at His table for His daughters.

Amanda Lewallen
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