How I Almost Lost Myself in Motherhood
I am a type A, first born. By the time I was twenty, I had my life planned out. After marriage, John would work to get me through college and then I would work as an elementary school teacher to get John through seminary without debt. Then, he would graduate, we would move into our white picket fence dream home, start our family, and begin a life of ministry together. I never recognized my insatiable desire to control the events and timeline of my life, but God saw it and he knew that I needed to be broken of my desire to control in order to soften me into his surrendering daughter with a heart of delight for her king.
As I entered my final semester of college, I began my student teaching in a third-grade classroom outside of Phoenix. The kids were well-behaved, and yet I was overwhelmed and emotional. It was so much harder than I anticipated. My go getter, energetic, type A personality knew how to manage stress well, but this time I didn’t seem able to fight through it.
During the halftime show for Super Bowl 2003, serenaded by Shania Twain, I took a pregnancy test. Two lines appeared. Pregnant? How could I be pregnant? How does this fit into my plan? Tears began to flow. Not tears of joy. Tears of being overwhelmed.
The beginning of motherhood started to strip me of my selfishness and desire to control. I was forced into this land of surrendering my well-planned life.
Lesson one: submitting to the Lord’s agenda is always best. The sooner I get that, the better I will be for it. He won’t do to me what he won’t do for me.
God began to teach me the gift of receiving his timing over my own. I held on to my future as if I owned it, knew what it entailed, and actually had the power to make it happen. Folly. God loved me enough to give me a child in order to strip me of myself. This was just the beginning.
This gift of life in my womb was my personal grace.
Nine months of stripping my agenda. Yet I found myself fighting to make a plan. I knew I was a mom intellectually, but I never felt like I was a mom emotionally. I couldn’t imagine life without it being just John and me. I was surprised by the grief I felt. I had to grieve the loss of just the two of us. That loss was real.
Lesson two: We can simultaneously feel both joy and grief. Stages and seasons of life are true gifts. When they end and it’s time to say goodbye, that place of loss is worth grieving. When we learn to grieve what we have lost, we are equipped to enter well into future loss. This path creates space for the blessing that God wants to bestow upon us through the loss.
I had no idea the gift that was being given to me. This child was a mover. She wanted out! She wanted to explore. During the third trimester she danced with music. She squirmed at the sound of her daddy’s voice when he would read her a story.
On Sept 6, 2003 John and I walked Princeton’s towpath. I called my mom. “This is it. She is coming.” While I wait for my mom’s arrival, I am determined to walk this baby out. John is the best partner. By my side. Breathing, stopping, walking. Repeat. Contractions are too close. He runs to get the car. We arrive at Princeton Hospital. I continue to labor. I’m in so much pain. My midwife, Ursula, wants to send me home until my water breaks. I knew I couldn’t go home. This child was ready to come out. Ursula tells us to walk the ward. “Let’s see if your water will break,” she says.
My water breaks in the hall. Thank you, Jesus, this means we can stay. He knew my pain. We labor. Breath by breath. Worship playing in the background. Mom arrives. I am convinced I have to go to the bathroom. Ursula is confident I don’t. Apparently, she knows a thing or two about delivery. I beg her to let me try. She concedes. I get to the bathroom and with the Lord, I am letting him know the pain is real and I can’t take much more. Over the toilet I start to feel her head! I scream, “I feel her head!” Ursula yells at me to get back to the bed, she yells for more nurses to assist, the bed isn’t quite laid out for delivery so I go on both knees in the bathroom and keep breathing.
Fernando Ortega’s, “Give Me Jesus” starts to play. I ask John to turn it up. I breathe, I push. I breathe, I push. I breathe, I push. I breathe, I push. And out she comes, a beautiful baby girl. Bright, light blue eyes take in the world. In an instant. I know in my knower, I am a mom.
We take a day to name “Baby Girl Beeson.” We wanted to see her, feel her, pray over her. Her huge eyes, ready to explore the world in front of her. Gentleness met with intense curiosity. God gives us the name: Camille Dawn. Camille means purity, virtue, unblemished. Dawn: a middle name given to her mom and grandma.
They discharge us and we find ourselves at the curbside with this delicate little human being. At 24 and 22, how are we possibly allowed to be responsible for this image-bearer?
Lesson three: God names his own and delights in allowing us to live into our namesake. Camille reflected the truth that God knows our past, present, and future. She was and is a reflection of God, unfolding his pure and perfect redemption plan for our family from the very beginning.
Fast forward 10 years. John and I have just walked through our marriage crisis. I confess to three years of adultery. With our home church, we are voluntarily walking through the journey of public repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. We included our kids (Camille is ten, our son, Soren, is eight) in the conciliation journey so they can ask questions and process their confusion at an age-appropriate level. They are in it with us.
My woeful adulterous season had culminated. On the night of my confession, Jan 31, 2013, we were in the Poconos in New York at a Princeton University campus ministry retreat. I was weak physically from a bout with pneumonia. The band plays “Cornerstone” at the end of the night and I begin what will be a long process of confession. After this heavy confession, John wraps his arms around my waist, and we sing in tears. “Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong in the Savior’s love.”
Our family lived in that song for a solid 3 years. God gave it to us. John and I prayed through it before we met the elders to repent. We sang it on our last Sunday at our church before we were asked to take a leave of absence while the church figured out how to navigate this path with us and those involved in my adultery. The church sang it on our first Sunday back. They had no idea it was our cloud by day and fire by night: a visible reminder of God’s presence with us. We sang in tears with God’s sweet affirmation over us. It was a constant whisper of “I am with you. I love you. I am for you. This is my battle. Just keep walking.” It would come on the radio at the perfect random time and we would roll down the windows and sing it loud! No one belts like Camille and Soren.
When God released us from our Princeton home church that we loved so dearly and still has a special place in our hearts to this day, the church sang Cornerstone on our last Sunday. At that point, no one knew our “Cornerstone” story except Team Beeson and the Lord. God’s gentle mercy called us to respond in gratitude. Eventually, the time came to enter back into vocational ministry, but this time miles 2400 away from Princeton, NJ in Tucson, AZ. “Cornerstone” was the first song on the worship set list on the Sunday John candidated for the associate pastor position. Only God!
Lesson four: it is never our job to protect our kids from conflict and pain. But it is our job to shepherd them through it, learn how to confront it, and sit in it with them. It’s God’s job to turn our mourning into dancing. We don’t have to strive for that. Sadness is a good emotion the Lord designed us to feel. Motherhood teaches me not to run away from pain but instead seek Jesus in the sadness, and remember his promises for us.
I remember when God broke my heart with the gift of repentance in 2013. I was willing to do whatever it took to release the grip of adultery over my life so that it would not be passed on to my kids. I begged God to bring everything to the light no matter the cost. Satan was not allowed to have any stronghold. On this journey, I would often take the kids on a walk and check in on their hearts. One summer day, Camille and I took a walk to the park.
“How is your heart today my love? What have you been thinking about?”
“Mom, I do have a question, but I am not sure if I am allowed to ask it.”
“Babe, you can always ask any question. I promise to always answer you honestly and appropriately.”
“Who in the church did you have an affair with?”
“Well love, it isn’t that I won’t answer that question but I want to make sure I understand why you are asking it. As a pastor’s kid, I never want to put you in a position where you feel you need to protect or defend us. So let me ask. Why do you want to know?”
“Well, how do I know that this won’t happen to me when I get married and how do I know that I won’t get a divorce like you and daddy almost did?”
“Camille, do you know what your name means?”
“It means purity. Virtue. To be without blemish. God knew what was in our future when you were born. He gave us your name for a reason. I believe he has made you to reflect his purity and virtue. That you will learn in your life in Christ you are unblemished and unstained because his blood covers you. You will learn the value of being pure in Christ and that this sin of adultery will not have a hold on you. It is one reason I chose to bring it all to the light no matter the cost. If I could do anything to partner with the Lord in breaking this sin of destruction, in God’s power. It would be done. I believe that. You do not have to fear. You are safe in the Lord’s hand my love.”
“Ok mommy. Wanna play on the slide?”
“Of course I do.”
She forgot her original question. It was never about who, it was about her fear.
Lesson five: Through her life and through her questions, Camille taught me to slow down and find the heart behind every concern.
Middle school and high school brought on more gifts of shepherding Camille’s curious and tender heart. John and I were invited into hard conversations that helped break us of control. We were reminded again and again that we couldn’t prevent our children from experiencing pain. Parenting teens forced us to daily entrust our kids’ hearts and emotions into the care of their perfect Heavenly Father. The illusion of control continued to be stripped away through the process of a true surrender in faith.
Time doesn’t slow down. Fast forward again seven years to today and now I am invited into further release. Sorrowfully, yet excitedly, our family climbs into the car one August morning, California-bound. Concordia College will have the gift of a pure, joy-filled, radiant child of the Most High King. She is anointed with his wisdom, understanding, creativity, passion and grit. I’ve never understood the power behind bittersweet until now.
Lesson six: Camille was never fundamentally mine. She has always been the Lord’s and she will never leave his grasp. She can’t. That’s his faithful promise to us. Parenting teaches you to trust and live by faith.
August 8, 2022. It’s time to say goodbye. We stand in her dorm room now festooned with her artwork and decorative touches. A handmade tapestry with a JRR Tolkien quote hangs behind us, “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” We huddle together and begin to pray. The tears come. We ugly snot-cry together. Camille closes, her pure voice begins to sing Cornerstone.
Lesson seven: My hope is not built on motherhood.
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
And I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
Christ alone, cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of all”
Little sparrow, it’s time to fly. You are held under the Father’s continued care, you are safe. You are ready. You don’t need our roof anymore. We hug. We cry. We drive away.
I ache deeply.
Thank you Camille for being an agent of God’s amazing grace to me. I’ll like you for always. I’ll love you forever. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.