The cards in the Target Store emblazoned with bouquets bear words of warmth and fond memories: “Mom, what would I have done without you? You are my best friend and always have been there for me.”
Conversations this week reveal so many layers of motherhood. There is the mother who just had to bury her infant. A mutual friend who walked the hard, unthinkable roads alongside her through the process of praying, holding, caring and weeping until no more tears come confides her own pain to me. “Why” sometimes seems too big a question to be contained in three small letters. Another friend and I sit over God’s Word together and we consider His promises and goodness. These are tangible to me in ways they never were before. Yet, we think of women, with yearnings to bear children – prayers seeming to remain unanswered and hearts craving to keep the faith while deepest desires hear empty echoes. This is not the stuff you find in the Hallmark aisle of the local drugstore.
But, loss is part of Mother’s Day. It is the most poignant piece for these women.
Other women, still in the process of healing from their painful childhoods only wish they could say, “Mom, you are the best!” but instead they are estranged, embittered or just reeling from wounds so old they reverberate in deep places of the soul. The words “Mother’s Day” only serve as a painful reminder of what never was and never will be. These greeting card platitudes are a match thrown onto dry kindling of grief, ready to flare up when all the world seems to walk by holding bouquets, going out to brunch to honor their moms. For you, the one longing for real mothering, the pink and lavender of Mother’s Day is a thumb in the face of your loneliest ache.
And there are mothers with regrets. We bore our own children and we loved them more than we imagined was possible, but we have made some choices we regret. We have raised our voices at our children or worse. We have allowed our own brokenness to seep out onto these dear ones more often than we ever wanted to do. We have expected too much of them and we have put the weight of the world on their little shoulders when all the while we witness ourselves falling short of being the mother we wished we could be. We are tempted to remain silent about these struggles – surely we are alone in our failings. We long for change, but don’t believe it ever will come in our homes and hearts.
Many will blog about the sunshine and roses on a day like this, but I want to stop for you – the woman with longings and pain – and give you a piece of my heart and time. As I sat to write today I thought of the different topics which could be good for Mother’s Day: “Finding Time for You,” or “Blessings for A Mother’s Day,” or “How Motherhood Changed Me.” Those would all be possible options and I could write on each with plenty to say, but there will be an abundance of posts like that. Someone has to write for you, the mom who is hurting over this weekend of otherwise lovely thoughts and wishes.
Once, my dear prayer partner said to me, “We get mothered in many places in our lives. It is God’s way of making up for what our own mothers couldn’t give us.” She went on to tell me how many ways God has provided mothering to her through various friends and others as she has walked into adulthood. It got me thinking about how God responds to the sinful residue which infects our world and robs us of His original design for motherhood – robs us of our children, robs us of a loving mother or robs us of the capacity to live out the fruit of the Spirit in our own home.
He gives Himself.
We may be tempted to say that just isn’t enough and if you are tempted to say that, I know what you mean. I’ve been there. It isn’t sacrilegious. We long for what we lost or didn’t receive and God knows. I’ve needed “more” than it seemed He was giving in times of bitter despair and hurt. Still, like the Loving Father He is, He allows us to rant, to rend our clothing in grief and to cry out to Him. He remains. He doesn’t condemn and He doesn’t reject. He meets us in the broken places and He is the Balm of Gilead, the God of All Comfort, the Lover of our soul, The Great Physician. He has a plan for healing and comfort. If you are grieving, He is in this with you. Sin and its effects grieve Him too. He feels our sadness with us – He is the Great High Priest who sympathizes.
If you are broken and long for mother-love, He has women in mind who will give you bits and pieces of what you never had. Yes, you may never experience the filling of your own biological mother giving you what you need, but that doesn’t mean there is no way for that need to be filled at least in part. He, Himself, will fill much of that space as you grow into trusting Him and allowing Him near. He has a specific, personalized flavor of redemption and restoration planned just for you, His beloved daughter.
And if you have failed your own children because your own pain and fears have become a stumbling block to all you dream you can be, He is here for you. He will walk along the healing road and bring others to you who will light the way and literally hold your hand while you risk what it takes to move forward. You can grow as a mother. You can look back and come along. You can be more than you are because He isn’t waiting for your transformation to love you. He plans to transform you with His love.
I do wish my own mother a Happy Mother’s Day. She did what she could with what she had and I forgive her and love her right where she is today. The boys and I made her cards and mailed them to her this week. I no longer need her to fill the spaces which were bequeathed to her care in my childhood. God has taken up the job of filling and He has given me mothers in the faith – friends and mentors who have loved me with mother love. I sit in quiet awe of His provision as their faces come to mind.
I am thankful to be becoming the mother I longed to be: a better and more patient lover of my children – a woman who knows how to put down the IPod and play Legos – a woman who stops typing just to listen long and hard to whatever is on their hearts – a woman who laughs at silly jokes, paints sidewalks and runs foot races with the best of boys. That’s been my vision, and He’s making it real. He’s binding up wounds and bringing beauty from ashes because that is what He does day after day in life after life. He takes our broken offerings and shines His light through the cracks.