Why Google Can Never be a Mom

google

Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor Liz Griffin.

Let’s be honest. Google is pretty great. It can give you directions, show you photos and sort through billions of facts to deliver the information you want. Its so awesome it is both a noun and a verb. There are nearly 6,000,000 Google searches a day. One of the most common questions people type into Google is “What is the meaning of life?”.

I’m not nearly as smart as Google, but I imagine what people are really asking is  “What is the meaning of my life?”. When you type it into Google all kinds of quotes, articles and opinion websites pop up. Data to sort through for days.  And yet, that doesn’t really answer the question people are asking.

Rewind a few weeks…

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I recently returned from a trip to Burundi. This small country is nestled in the heart of Africa between Rwanda and Tanzania. Currently, my family is in the middle of adopting two children from there. One evening when I was organizing all the things I had to bring with me, I watched a film called Closure. (If you are interested in adoption, I highly recommend it.)

It is a documentary about a trans-racial adoptee, Angela,  who searches for her birth family. As someone who is adopting I was struck by her search for identity. Her adoptive family was incredible and joined her in the hunt for her biological family. There was one scene that stood out in particular.

Angela was using Google to hunt down information on her family. And Google was giving her answers, but she was looking for more than facts – she was looking for people.

Fast forward to last week in Africa…

I was sitting in a shelter surrounded by orphans. A little girl who was  5 shared my seat as I listened to the nun across the table talk about the kids who were in their care. She was sharing the facts and stats of all the children there – how old they were, their medical history, how many are available for adoption…

The children in the room were not very interested in the stats and data on their lives. They were focused on this one particular nun who tickled them, looked them straight in the eye and snuggled them while whispering something in their ears. I don’t know what she was whispering, but it sure made them all smile.

so happy to be in Africa

so happy to be in Africa

I couldn’t put my finger on it at the moment, but sitting in that room I started thinking of Angela from the documentary. Later that night I sat under my mosquito net and processed out the day. That is when I realized what the connection was.

The similarity between Angela and the children in those shelters is that they didn’t want facts or data. Angela could Google a million personality quizzes to help her shape her identity or search online for her missing family. These kids in Burundi have information in their files which gives a brief glimpse of where they have come from.

However, this information is not what these children are craving. I saw it watching them interact with the nuns. They want people to look into their eyes and really see them. They want a voice to speak their value out loud. Someone to tell them what they are great at and help them dream into what they could become.

For all the information that is out there – personality quizzes, scholarly articles, personal medical histories – there is no substitute for an actual person looking you in the eye and telling you why you matter. It is what everyone craves and I recognized it in the little eyes all around me.

While Google can spit out loads of resources and facts, it can never be a mom. It can never hold a hand, sing an original song or squeeze into a toddler bed to snuggle a sick kid. Google can never really answer the most asked question in the world, “What is the meaning of my life?“.

women in Burundi

women in Burundi

For the rest of my time in Africa, I thought about those children’s mothers. Many of them died from HIV or complications in childbirth. My imagination can’t comprehend how hard it must have been for them to realize that they would never have the chance to watch their babies grow up.

They would never get to tell them the story of how they were born, tell them the potential they see in them or share with them memories from their own childhood. Those mamas never got the chance to give their kids what they are longing for – identity.

I am reminded of the powerful privilege of motherhood. The ability we have to touch, speak and develop our kids is one not every woman is given. God has granted us the honor to speak identity into our kids. Who they are in Christ and who they are to us. It is a question the world is asking. Google may be smarter than us, but we have the answers.

 20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

Comments

  1. I truly love this because I am one of those women who the gift of being a mother was not given to, at least not in the actual sense of the word. I am engaged and my future husband has three school age children who are wonderful but unfortunately have gone through a lot of stress because of their mom’s mental illness. And from the minute I met them I realized that they are looking for guidance from a mom’s point of view and as you say someone to speak their values. So as a future mom (because they will be living with us full time) I consider my main focus with them to instill that sense of worth and speak identity into them.

    • Maria, these kids are so fortunate to get you as a mom. Sounds like you have so much vision for the three of them. AND, congrats on your upcoming wedding!

  2. This article spoke to me in so many ways and on so many different levels. You see I am adopted, rejected by two mothers (adoptive & biological), a new mother to my first son and third child, and fighting to regain custody of my first daughter from my adoptive mother. WHEW! lol That was a mouth full. I normally don’t read my emails, I have these emails for HelloMornings dating back to 2012 that I am still “planning” to read; however, the other night I prayed a simple prayer to be able to better manage my life and things have been running a bit more smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, I actually stopped and read this blog entry and I am so happy I did and I feel GOD is the reason I finally just STOPPED and began reading through my emails.

    This article uplifted my spirit, and gave me new life and purpose. It also clarified my role as a mother even more, and it showed yet in another way just how incredible and awesome God is. The feelings you describe regarding looking for identity…well that struck home so hard. I too sought out my biological family, things did not go AT ALL how I expected and desired and I am still unsure as to the subject of my father, BUT, I did gain clarity by going through this journey and some knowledge. I have felt so alone in my feelings, regarding all my feelings about being adopted until I read this article.

    I gained so much insight and peace from this article. Thank you for writing this.

    • Shavonne, I wish we could get coffee because I would love to hear more of your story. Sounds like you have been through so much and clearly God has some pretty big plans for you.

      I can’t imagine what all you have been through nor what you are going through with your custody battle for your daughter. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

      I’m really glad the post was so helpful for you.

  3. Danny Mulkey says:

    Fantastic, Liz. What a huge deal. Thanks for putting something so profound into such digestable language.

  4. This is sooo good! Thanks Liz!

    We were at the library today, and my girl forgot to bring her card, so she used mine. She was asking if it was okay since she wasn’t me. She asked how the machine knows who’s using the card. I told her it doesn’t because it’s a machine. I think kids nowadays are so attached to machines and gadgets (just like their parents, right?) that they (and we) forget that the gadgets themselves form no actual relationships with us. Yes, there is good to all of those things and it does connect people in one sense, but relationships and love go deeper. And even if Google has an answer, it’s not always the right one.

    You’re right! “Google may be smarter than us, but we have the answers.” :)

    • Wow, that story drives the point home Joyce! And yes, I find myself in group of people who forget that my gadgets aren’t actually people.

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