For many I suppose, Mother’s Day was celebrated in the usual ways; for others it was endured for unique reasons – as Tolstoy said:
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
On Sunday a woman in our church shared her own experience of mixed emotions on Mother’s Day:
Mentioning Mother’s Day in worship is just tricky. There’s no formula. So perhaps we acknowledge that most families are messy… Perhaps we simply admit that it’s a difficult day for many. Or we acknowledge that God is keenly aware of all that we hold in our hearts. On Mother’s Day, the best we can do is to keep it real.
And so, I stand here today, determined to keep it real. To admit to you that Mother’s Day, for most of my life, was a really, really hard day. It was a day when I was confronted by the fact that my relationship with my mom was very difficult – that we were almost polar opposites in what we wanted out of life – in our motivations – in our preferences – in the things that we needed – and, most importantly, in the things that we needed from each other.
I remember walking up and down the aisles of my local card shop, reading 20 – 30 – sometimes 40 Mother’s Day cards, trying to find something that would honour my mom without lying about the emotionally difficult relationship we had.
And then, years later, my husband and I wanted to start a family – and we couldn’t. And Mother’s Day became even more loaded with disappointment and heartache.
In fact, my hardest Mother’s Day occurred in 2010, when a friend – I believe they are called “friemenies” – who was fully aware of my fertility struggles called me up on Mother’s Day to tell me that I couldn’t imagine her joy – that she was so happy and that, because I wasn’t a mother, I couldn’t ever understand how she was feeling but it was the best day of her life and her husband was the best husband in the world and had bought the best family ring with all their birthstones and had made her the best breakfast in bed and she just needed to call to tell me that she was… basically better than me. And, in that 20 minute monologue, I think I said all of “Hello” and “Goodbye” as I held my hand over the receiver and wept. And I hung up and cried out to God about why He would bless such a person and seem to forget about me.
And then, in May of 2011, my son was born and I experienced two new emotions on Mother’s Day – emotions that I now experience each and every Mother’s Day and every day in between – gratitude and joy.
And so, I know from the deepest and most raw part of me that Mother’s Day can be beautiful and it can be really, really awful. But do we refuse to celebrate Mother’s Day because it’s painful to some? Or do we celebrate Mother’s Day in wilful ignorance that it can be an impossibly hard day for many?
I believe there is a better way. As I was preparing for today, God put Romans 12:15. on my heart. In it, Paul writes:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
It’s not one or the other – it’s both.
And so, today, if you are a mom and you love being a mom – or you have a wonderful mother – we, as your brothers and sisters in Christ, rejoice with you because those are beautiful gifts from God and they are worth celebrating. May the words that we speak to you today multiply your joy!
And if today, you are feeling hurt and wounded because of a messy family situation – or maybe you desperately want to be a mom, and that hasn’t happened– or maybe you have a difficult relationship with your mom or child – or maybe your mom or your child is sick and you don’t know what the future holds – or maybe you’ve lost a child and that wound is torn open with each Mother’s Day or missed birthday or Christmas – we, as your family, share your pain and your sorrow. And may the words that we speak to you today provide you with the kindness and compassion that you need.
Please pray with me.
You know all that we hold in our hearts today. You know us better than we know ourselves. You hold the future and the past – your hold our moms and our children – and we trust in You alone, because you are good and kind and faithful. In You, all things hold together.
Let us be true brothers and sisters to each other today. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, give us wisdom and kindness to communicate Your love to each other.
Let us truly rejoice with those who rejoice – and mourn with those who mourn. Make us one, Father, as You and Your Son are one.
In the precious Name of Jesus, Amen.