Mother’s Day has always been a tactical challenge to navigate. By my 40th birthday, I finally learned how to bless each of my 5 stepmothers and my birth mother on this special day set aside for honoring mothers. There simply aren’t any greeting cards adequate for my circumstances, so I always make my own.

My childhood was marked by ever-changing circumstances: moving a lot, different role models, and leaving my birth mother. My father divorced and remarried several times while I was at home. I struggled with drug abuse in attempts to attain happiness and peace while living amidst alcoholism and violence. When I married a few months before my 18th birthday, it was such a relief to be out of my parents’ house and in a place of our own.

Near our first wedding anniversary, I discovered that my husband and I were going to have a baby.

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During my pregnancy, I felt a need to reconnect with my birth mother. She had been raised by her older sister after being abused by a stepfather, then abandoned by her mother at age 13. Learning her difficult circumstances and how unprepared she had been to become a mother softened my heart to her. Walking cautiously together through those early steps of reconciliation proved to be a timely way God was softening my own heart and preparing me for motherhood. Our daughter was born two years after our son. With a toddler and a new baby, it was evident that I really had no idea how to be a mother. I had “babysitting” experience and loved my children deeply, but motherhood involved far more substance than I possessed.

When my husband began pressing to attend church with our children, something ugly triggered inside me. I could not be a Christian. I had tried that. I didn’t fit that role and didn’t feel welcome in church. I panicked, rebelled, then bolted. We were separated for 3 months, during which time I did just about anything and everything my sinful heart could imagine. It was frightening to discover the capabilities that lurked within me. I felt doomed to a pattern of divorce since so many in my family had experienced it, but when I factored its effect upon my children, it terrified me that they would have to experience the pain and frustration I had gone through. It jolted me into making a sudden decision and I turned my car around. I called my husband and told him I wanted to come home; he offered to come pick me up right then. I warned him that he may not want me back and revealed to him all the wicked things I had been doing. The first words out of his mouth were, “It’s okay, come home and we will work it out together!” It was only the second time in my life that I knew for certain I had experienced tangible, unconditional love and I ran toward it. His response watered a dormant seed deep within me and love, sincere heartfelt love, found a warm ray of light to reach toward.

A few months later after reluctantly reading the Bible for a few weeks, I read Galatians 2:20. An amazing realization of the truth of the gospel filled me with instant hope. Christ would take all that I was as a sinful woman and let it be crucified with Him…as if I were dead. He would also take all that He is and live it out through me as though it were indeed my very own life. An EXCHANGED life! How utterly amazing that truth was to me. I didn’t have to try to live like or BE a Christian! He Himself would do it through me. Immediately I allowed all the remaining stones that I’d piled over my heart to fall and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to enter as my Savior, my very life.

Nearly forty years later, I rejoice as I recall each stepping stone along the amazing path of healing and spiritual growth God has led me. I’ve been given the joy of reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoring the dignity of motherhood to my birth mother, and God graciously allowed me to share the gospel with my father before his death and make peace with many of the mother figures in my past.

The “mother place” in my heart is now whole. It is cleansed, healed, and full. Today, I enjoy watching my own daughter find her way through motherhood as she and her husband walk their own path of life and faith before their children. We talk freely of the mistakes I made as her mother and how God healed them. She witnessed firsthand the power of the Cross and the Word sanctifying a desperately broken woman being made whole.

God continues to assure me that I can fully trust Him. He is trustworthy not just as my own heavenly Father, but as the One whose tender heart is more watchful and caring than that of any mother.



Jan Rowland and her husband, John, moved to Birmingham 2½ years ago from Colorado to be near their daughter and grandchildren. They have been members of our faith family for more than a year. To read more about how God is at work in the women of our faith family visit our Women's Blog.