Until I sat down to try to explain to someone about Jesus and repentance and the need to be born again, I truly believed there was no experience so awesome as becoming a mother. But when I actually led my friend Bernadine to the place of praying to receive Jesus as her Savior and being born into the Kingdom of God—in my own bumbling way and all while we sat on the grass at the park with my son and her nephews playing nearby—I realized I’d been wrong. 

Becoming a sort of spiritual mother by helping to facilitate someone’s birth into God’s family is at least as exciting, if not more so, than birthing your own physical child into the world.

If I’d had any sense I would have carried the analogy to the next level. With all the experience I had at changing dirty diapers and living on 15 minutes of sleep a day, I shouldn’t have been surprised that spiritual newborns are just as messy, demanding, and self-absorbed as physical ones.

But scarcely being beyond that stage myself, the connection never occurred to me—which is why I was so surprised when Bernadine kept showing up on my doorstep with questions I couldn’t answer.  

“Which is the right way to be baptized—sprinkling or dunking—and why?”

“If the Hebrew word ‘Sabbath’ means Saturday or ‘the last day of the week,’ how did our day of worship get changed to Sunday?”

“What’s the difference between pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib, and which do you think is right?”

“Do you believe in a literal six-day creation period, and if so, how does evolution ft in—or does it?”

“What’s the  significance of the Urim and Thummim?” (Huh???)

I had helped to create a “monster”—one with a voracious appetite to read and study the Bible and to ask lots of questions.

Actually, this would have been a good thing if the person she was asking had been a Christian long enough to answer with confidence. But she was dealing with yours truly, who had yet to find the perfect Proverbs 31 role model, and my confidence level regarding the finer points of theology was definitely one of the looser cannons on my deck of life.

I’d been listening to sermons and going to Sunday school for a couple of years by then, but I realized when I tried to answer Bernadine’s questions that I was just repeating what I’d heard someone else say. When she took a question to the next level—“What did the pastor mean when he said he believes in a literal millennium, and do you agree with him?”—I was stumped.

This should have been another clue that I had a long way to go in my own spiritual walk; instead, it just irritated me and made me wish Bernadine would quit hanging around so much. The newfound glow of spiritual motherhood was beginning to fade.

Then one morning while I was volunteering at the preschool and helping to supervise the kids on the playground, Chris—who insisted he was “almost  four,” though his birthday was still eight months away—came running up to me with a panicky look on his flushed face.

“Help me! Those kids are after me!”

My mama bear instinct kicked in as I began scanning the playground for the bullies who had threatened my cub.

Imagine my surprise when the only ones chasing him were three little girls, none of whom could have been more than two and a half. As they charged toward us, giggling and squealing, Chris ducked behind me and did his best to become invisible. (Actually, it wasn’t that hard. He weighed thirty pounds soaking wet, and I was still carrying those extra “baby fat” pounds I’d put on before he was born—all of which had somehow settled on my hips.)