Study Guide

 
Great with Child makes a great book for book club discussions! The following questions are also reprinted in the back of the new Wordfarm edition of the book.

Of course I hope that readers will respond to whatever in the text strikes them. And that they will share their own stories of hoping to get pregnant, loss, pregnancy, birth, and the first year. If the book does nothing but encourage women to share their stories, that in itself would be a worthy outcome.

The questions below aim at those underlying spiritual issues that so fascinated me during this passage of life, and I hope they will spark discussion both for mothers and women who are not mothers. They correspond roughly to the chapters.

* * * * * * * * * *

  1. In what ways do you experience or claim the “reckless yes”?
  2.  

  3. How might we find power and wisdom in our monthly cycles?
  4.  

  5. What things have you desired but had to learn to live without? How does God fit into this sense of loss for you?
  6.  

  7. When has God said yes to you? How might we hold to those times during passages of life when God seems to say no?
  8.  

  9. How have you experienced the cost of pregnancy, motherhood, or serving others?
  10.  

  11. How might women convey the wisdom of attentive waiting to the rest of humanity?
  12.  

  13. Motherly fears are legendary in their power. How can we cope with them in faith?
  14.  

  15. Do we hate our bodies? How can we love them, and teach our daughters to love their bodies?
  16.  

  17. Do you tend to regard God’s will for you and those you love as “destiny” or “ordination”? What difference does it make?
  18.  

  19. Does the myth of Psyche offer any insight on your own life, work, and struggles?
  20.  

  21. Why is pregnancy often a difficult time in a marriage?
  22.  

  23. How can we celebrate the pregnant woman and her body without patronizing her?
  24.  

  25. In contemporary American culture, have we lost the spiritual dimension of the birth process? How could we claim it back?
  26.  

  27. How can we make a place to listen to one another’s birth stories?
  28.  

  29. How can we be more truthful and accepting both of the difficulties and euphoria of the first few weeks after birth and of breastfeeding?
  30.  

  31. Feeling fragmented and foggy is a common state for mothers. Is there any way to make friends with this condition? Can anything good come of it? What ways can we care for ourselves and others during these foggy times?
  32.  

  33. When have you felt rescued or healed? What contributed to that rescue or healing?
  34.  

  35. Do you experience a “dynamic tension between guarding our individuality and surrendering to this blissful merger” (p. 272)? How can we help our daughters and sons live that tension better than our generations have?
  36.  

  37. If you are a mother, what has motherhood taught you about the nature of God?
I have published books on motherhood, Christian spirituality, and language in worship. I write regularly about all sorts of topics for The Twelve, and I teach literature and writing at Calvin College, where I have served on the faculty since 1996.

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