Becoming a Servant-Hearted Mother (Guest Post for Joyful Life Magazine)

No one told me to test first thing in the morning when HCG levels are the easiest to measure. I took the test in the late afternoon, workday finished and my husband waiting in our bedroom for me to announce the result one way or the other. With the bathroom door closed, I fumbled with the box, anxiously skimmed the instructions, and somehow missed the step about waiting five minutes before reading the test for accurate results. I was only a day late, but I had a subtle hunch it was no coincidence.

I performed all the steps and set the stick on the counter, waiting for it to reveal the answer.

About the three minute mark, I couldn’t see anything but the control line and I announced as such through the bathroom door. We were both relieved—knowing we could each use some time to adjust to our new marriage of three months before welcoming a child into the mix. I tossed the box and instructions in the trash, and with soap and warm water lathered over my hands, I glanced back at the test and squinted a bit.

Was there another line there? It was faint, but it certainly looked like more than nothing. I could feel my heart rate begin to quicken.

The sudden thought of being actually-pregnant at 22 was both a thrill and a terror.

“Uhhhhhhhhh,” I said with a long, loud, and obviously uncertain tone that compelled my husband to pop open the bathroom door with an inquisitive look.

We both saw it—a line representing a new life that would bring with it a new way of life and a sobering sense of responsibility greater than either of us had previously known.

I was the kind of scared that comes with anything new, full of anxiety about whether or not I had what it took to be a good mother, and yet I knew in my bones that something about this news would also be the best thing that ever happened to me.

I don’t quite recall what I expected motherhood to be like, but I know for certain that I didn’t expect to discover the very limits of my patience, or that it would expose the raw parts of my soul, thoroughly unraveling the threads of my identity with the arrival of subsequent children (of which we’ve since had six and are soon to welcome a seventh).

I didn’t expect God would use motherhood to re-fashion me from the inside out. I didn’t know He would both mercifully and painfully reorient my perspective regarding what it means to love selflessly. I didn’t realize I would discover the essential ingredients of a truly meaningful life.

I didn’t expect becoming a mother would mean assuming the role of a full-time servant and that by doing so, I might discover greater joy than I’ve ever known (even while scrubbing floors and wiping noses for years on end)…

(The rest of this essay appears on the blog at Joyful Life Magazine. Head over there to read it in full!)

Emily Sue Allen is the founder and visionary behind, an online community and podcast dedicated to helping women find joy and purpose in motherhood. Emily is passionate about living a deeply nourished life and celebrating the beauty of ordinary moments. She is forever marked by the rescue and redemption Jesus Christ has accomplished in her life. Emily is a featured contributor in Strong, Brave & Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, a collaborative volume of essays written to encourage moms in the weeds of parenting kids at home, a member of Hope*writers, and an ongoing devotional writer for Joyful Life Magazine. She lives with her husband and seven kids—three girls and four boys—in the Pacific Northwest. Emily’s website is Subscribe to her newsletter “Flowers, Children & Other Lovely Things” at and find her on Instagram.



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