Review - Longing for Motherhood: Holding On to Hope in the Midst of Childlessness By Chelsea Patterson Sobolik
With approximately twelve percent of the United States population being affected by infertility, a book discussing the longing for motherhood from a Christian perspective has long been needed. Chelsea Patterson Sobolik has admirably filled that void with Longing for Motherhood: Holding On to Hope in the Midst of Childlessness, published by Moody Publishers in 2018. Sobolik not only raises awareness and understanding of the issue of childlessness, she personalizes the issue by sharing her own experience. She provides hope — and help.
Having been born in Romania in the 1980s and having grown up in a large adoptive family in North Carolina, Sobolik always looked forward to someday having her own children. That dream was shattered when, as a college freshman, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome; she had been born without a uterus.
Living with this new knowledge was the first real suffering Sobolik had had to endure. She was well prepared for her ordeal, however, for she had long had a strong relationship with Christ. She immediately turned to Him — and leads readers along the path she followed:
• Exploring the loneliness of childlessness
• Noticing our various responses to sorrow
• Trusting God to care for us in the midst of suffering
• Looking at childless women in the Bible who found hope
• Recognizing that we have that same hope
• Finding ways we can live out our longing by serving others
• Equipping the church to care for the childless
Sobolik provides many scripture references, and prayers for dealing with various emotions or seeking comfort. She includes “30 Scriptures to Sustain You in the Midst of Childlessness” — not only the references, but also the texts themselves. In addition, she provides questions for “Reflection and Discussion,” and recommends books and websites.
While Longing for Motherhood is a valuable encouragement and resource for those suffering the anguish of childlessness, the book has an even broader audience: those who surround the childless — husbands, other family members, friends, even the church, including those in ministry. Many people — even in the church — simply don’t know how to respond appropriately to people in pain. Saying “You can always adopt” doesn’t begin to acknowledge, let alone empathize with, the pain of a woman who longs for children and can’t have them. In addition to her sense of loss, a woman who can’t have children is likely to fear that no one will want to marry her.
Longing for Motherhood provides a window on this suffering, which is totally unfamiliar to many people and which, indeed, may seem too heart-wrenching to even contemplate. However, looking at that suffering through the lens of the cross, as Sobolik does, enables us to find hope. The love of Christ enables us to be filled with empathy toward one another — so that we can enter into each other’s stories and bear each other’s burdens.
We can see from Sobolik’s story how perfectly God prepared her to write Longing for Motherhood. Her resolve not to waste an ounce of her suffering is a prominent refrain in her book. And we readers are among the blessed beneficiaries of her finding her joy in God.
Longing for Motherhood: Holding On to Hope in the Midst of Childlessness by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik (Moody Publishers, 2018)