Mother’s Day is once again upon us, and with it comes all sorts of emotions for all kinds of people. Some are celebrating their wonderful moms, while others are mourning the loss of their mother, and still others may be cringing at the memory of a mother who wasn’t there for them. Some women are relishing their own role as a mother, while others are just trying to make it through a day that reminds them only of the void that comes with never having been able to have children of their own, or worse, having lost one to miscarriages or other tragedies. My point is this day can be beautiful and wonderful, or it could bring heartache and pain, and no matter where you or I fall on that spectrum, we all have to walk through this day somehow.
Family is such an important part of our society. Our families shape us and often mold us into the adults we become. If we are blessed to have been raised in a family where love and faith were a continual thread, it is easy to forget that there are those who have not shared our same experiences. While we might have great memories upon which to reflect, there are others who are doing everything they can to not remember their own. Such is the complicated nature of family relationships, and such is the complicated nature for so many women when it comes to motherhood.
Most of you know that my husband, and I were not able to have children of our own. We looked into all the other possibilities, but none of them worked out for us. Over time, the grief of our situation shifted and morphed, as it does with any other type of grief. Not only that, but this year is the first Mother’s Day my husband and I have shared where one of our mother’s is no longer with us. My mother-in-law was an amazing woman who never met a stranger or gave up on anyone. She loved unconditionally and losing her has changed the palette of feelings that we share individually and as a family at this time of year.
This year, in spite of all of life’s challenges and the complications that can come with this day for so many women (and men), there is something different on my heart and mind. This year, I am thanking God not only for my own godly mother who raised me in deep love and faith, or the children in my life that I’ve had the opportunity to influence in one way or another, but I am also thanking God for the three children my husband and I sponsor through Compassion International. It’s been a number of years now, and although it took a while to become comfortable with our communications back and forth, we have settled into beautiful relationships with three children who live across the world from us. We have watched them grow, and have been blessed to be able to support, encourage and be connected to these kids and their families, and I am unspeakably grateful as I reflect on it today.
Mother’s Day is a day that we set aside to honor first our own mothers, and then all mothers. As Prince Harry recently said after the birth of his first child, “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension!” What women go through to bring new human beings into this world really IS beyond comprehension to those of us who have not experienced it, male or female! That being said, it takes far more to make a true “mother” than just giving birth. It involves a deep and lasting love, a sacrificial love that seeks the well-being of her children first, even when it demands more than she thinks she can give. It is about understanding the responsibility you have to raise and nurture the human beings God has entrusted to your care. It is about being there. It’s putting your phone down and listening to them. It involves so much more, but you get my point.
When you consider what it truly means to “mother” another human being, you are able to step back and see a broader group of women than you might have before. All the characteristics, traits and actions that make a woman a true mother, are the same ones that make us all mothers to the world around us. I’m not discounting mothers in any way, in fact, I am doing the exact opposite. I am elevating the aspects of mothers that we all celebrate on this day each year. We celebrate the love and care. We celebrate the sacrifices. We celebrate these amazing women who took their jobs seriously and refused to give up even when their children may have disappointed them or caused them pain. These are the things we celebrate, and as people of faith, THIS is how we are supposed to love the world!
I mentioned earlier about the children my husband and I have sponsored for a number of years. Although I did not give birth to them, nor are we raising them, I love them with all my heart and feel a great responsibility toward them. My heart desires the very best for them. I cheer their accomplishments and share in their difficulties and sorrows. I worry when I hear of events going on in their countries, cities or villages. They are embedded into my heart, and I am so grateful to have yet another area to channel that mothering gene God put in my heart. I have found Compassion International to be an incredible organization with which to partner, and I could not be more blessed to have three beautiful children to love and care for as a result of their efforts.
So on this Mother’s Day, by all means, honor your mother and the other women in your lives that are worthy of that honor. Thank God for all the women who mothered you throughout the course of your life. Honor them by doing the same for others around you. Don’t reserve your nurturing just for your children, but also for those children without mothers, and for adults who are wounded and hurting. Over and over again, Jesus tells us to love one another. He tells us that everyone is our neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). He tells us to go the extra mile when we don’t have to do so (Matt 5:41). He tells us to love our enemies (Matt 4:43-48). Jesus made it perfectly clear that we are commanded to love! He told us,“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:34-35)
Reach out to this world full of struggling people. Nurture them, love them, and never be afraid of getting your hands dirty. After all, isn’t that what mothering is all about?
Happy Mother’s Day and blessings to you all!