My first baby entered the world with a literal bang, leaving me with significant injuries following her delivery. My second baby tried to join us at 30 weeks, and I did all but hang upside down to try to keep her safe until near term, from bedrest to medication that made me feel like I had been hit by a truck to working in a wheelchair. Before the arrival of these two precious daughters, we had attempted adoption. I have filled out reams of paper, have been fingerprinted a dozen times, undergone psychological testing and invasive home studies, and have put every spare dime to bringing a child into our family for the past eight years. I selfishly long for my sacrifices to be acknowledged just a little as I know the daily grind and sacrifice required to be the kind of mother I want to be. Our preschool and my wonderful husband have made sure to lovingly comprise cards with handprints and sweet sentiments that I will treasure until my last breath. I am a mother.
My mother fought breast cancer with grace and courage and has been cancer-free for just over a year. She buried her first child, cared for her mother as she died of breast cancer, then single-handedly nursed her father with Parkinson’s disease as she raised small children. She made every day feel magical and secure for my sister, brother, and me. She taught hundreds of children how to read and nurtured several struggling students. She is phenomenal beyond compare. I love my mother.
I am so thankful for the many women in my life who have loved me and mentored me—spiritual mothers—my aunts, mother-in-law, teachers, faithful friends, my late grandmothers. I plan to honor them all on the special day set aside for mothers.
I just don’t plan to observe Mother’s Day at church and am relieved that our congregation will mark the occasion with little fanfare.
Because Sunday worship is for Jesus.
My husband is a pastor, and our pastor friends often receive comments from our fellow Christians about expectations to honor mothers/fathers/graduates/veterans/America/you name it more or better as part of the Sunday service. Many congregations choose to approach special days in different ways based on tradition and culture. Good mothers deserve respect, and there is Biblical precedent for this.
The early church met on Sundays to celebrate the Resurrection. During Lent, fasts have traditionally been broken on Sunday because of this weekly reminder of our hope and joy. We gather on Sundays to remember that Jesus is alive and active in the world, and this truth changes everything and empowers us to service. We are commanded to keep the Sabbath holy. And as we remember our risen Savior on the second Sabbath in May, let’s remember where he was found and where he would be found if he walked among us today. In Scripture and now, we find Jesus with the broken-hearted and marginalized.
Jesus would have sat next to my Aunt Edith every year as mothers stood to be recognized at my home church on Mother’s Day, as her only son lay long buried in the adjacent cemetery, and as she returned home to an empty house devoid of cards or gifts or grandchildren.
Jesus will hold close the countless women who will avoid church this Mother’s Day, too shattered by recent losses, too afraid of salt in their raw wounds. He never leaves or forsakes mothers who lost children long ago yet long for them every minute.
Jesus will wipe the tears of the one in eight women who struggle with infertility, of the untold women who remain single and childless against their wishes, of the millions who have suffered infant and child loss this year.
Jesus was with us as we grieved three failed adoptions and leads us as we navigate the uncertainty of our continued call to open our family to children in need of a home. He will be with the mothers whose babies were not born of their wombs but of their hearts, as they are made to feel less-than by accident or intention. He honors birth mothers.
Jesus would comfort His children who mourn the loss of their mothers, those who have damaged or complicated relationships with their mothers, or those who have been harmed by their mothers; likewise, he will support the mothers estranged from prodigal children.
My plea as a Christian, as a mother, as a daughter, as a pastor’s spouse, is that the church answers our call to bind up the broken-hearted and acknowledge that secular holidays may be cause for celebration but that they can also be fraught with pain and heartbreak. I plan to spend Sunday thanking God for my mother, my grandmothers, my spiritual mothers, and for my children. I will give and receive gifts with joy at home. And I will spend the day in prayer for the many who will be hurting and endeavor to not deepen their wounds.