It’s quiet in the house this afternoon, and I am thankful. A part of this day feels like it’s for celebrating, and a larger part feels like it belongs to reverence. I’m never quite sure how to express that part best, but it’s weighty on my heart.
On a day when so many of us make a concerted effort to honor our mothers, we can’t help but reflect on the good parts and the hard parts that come alongside. As with most celebrations, there’s a bittersweetness that lingers with today as we recognize heartache, loss, mourning and longing in so many hearts around us–and perhaps in our own. I doubt that for any son or daughter, Mother’s Day is 100% about joy and completely void of sorrow or longing. I think of friends who have lost mothers and grandmothers in this past year, and of others who have lost children or longed for children…who are still waiting or working through deep, deep pain. There is no way to celebrate something so beautiful as motherhood without bringing up the hard parts of motherhood as well, which is why I sit here in the quiet, trying to flesh out what God would have for all of us on a day bearing such striking duality.
Mother’s Day is tricky, because it brings to light something so close to the human heart. God created us to desire the loving presence of a father and mother. He built us to long after Him, and while we most naturally think of God as a Father, He intends to fulfill the role of a mother in His love for us, too:
“For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.
When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants…'” Isaiah 66.12-14
Gods promises are not limited to some of us, but rather extended to all of us. I have known some of the most beautiful mothering hearts, honoring their call to motherhood in ways they never expected or hoped for before God. And I know that God sees them and honors their steadfast commitment to His calling on their hearts, whether they are mothering biological children or adopted children, praying for someday children, or extending themselves as mothers to children not their own. Nothing that our God has done or called us to is ever casual or wasted.
When we experienced miscarriage (three years ago this past week), I had already given birth to Henry. While I mourned the loss of a baby we’d never know this side of Heaven, Mother’s Day came heavy that year. At the same time, I was afraid to allow myself room to grieve and feel pain, because I also felt guilty…How could I be sad when I had already had a child and other mothers did not? How could I justify feeling lonely or forgotten when I had a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness right in front of me? It took me a long while to understand that God saw my pain equally and grieved that pain with me, as the Comforter of all hurts and heartache:
“…Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” Isaiah 66.8-11
I am once again reminded that God is not mean, and He is not poor. He does not allow pain without a purpose for that pain. He does not carry us all the way through labor just to deny us delivery. Instead, He actually promises delivery for those of us who trust Him with our lives. With our hurts. With our infertility, our miscarriages, our tragedies, our deep, deep longings.
This Mother’s Day, I am convinced that the day leaves room for both celebration and mourning on purpose. God didn’t declare the holiday, but, as with all things, He has carved intention within it. Motherhood is beautiful. It should be celebrated, because it was designed in God’s image and is one of the most tangible ways we can reflect and experience God in our earthly lives. It is strong and delicate, and it will stretch those with motherly hearts just as far as we can possibly go. Today, I am thankful for all of the hearts of mothers that I have known, and I think especially of those who wait for God to define just how their motherly hearts will be used for His purposes. As I do with my own heart, I am trusting that God has designed yours with a deep purpose, and that He will continue to bring delivery as we experience the labor pains of His call to motherhood in our lives.
Happy Mother’s Day to every mama heart. I am so thankful for and humbled by each of you!