Another Mothers Day. On this day, what comes to mind is Karla’s frequent challenge in our relationship — that we must continually seek “the real”. Such is true for the day we set aside to consider mothers.
Between the annual observance in 2013 and this one, many have given birth to a boy or girl, twins, or perhaps triplets. And even in these amazing experiences, this Mothers Day will try the hearts of women who have miscarried once or even seen the unimaginable frustration of several miscarriages. Indeed, within the span since last Mothers Day, countless mothers have received the awful words that a child has succumb to a rare disease, accident, or act of violence.
Even as the new mother receives her first call, who will check-in on the mother or expectant mother whose day will be filled with grief?.
Mothers Day 2014 will find some reuniting, even as others have said goodbye to a loved one transitioning from mortality to immortality. This day will cause some to reflect on the wealth of virtues found in a mother, while others must confront the gripping realities of a mother troubled by alcohol, drugs, or a stream of unhealthy relationships.
In church settings throughout our nation, clergy will heap praises upon mothers, conferring onto them a kind of faultless deity that ironically robs them of a most basic right of being imperfect people. All while avoiding sensitive issues that challenge women to be better wives so as to contribute to positive environments for children.To remember, despite the push to destroy the ideas and ideals of family, that God ordained family to promote the necessary roles of fathers and mothers. And to resist negative imagery of womanhood common to popular music, television shows, and movies of our times. And to be surrogate mothers or mentors as young people who have lost their way.
Beyond the phone calls, flowers, and gifts, our Mothers Day experiences can be rooted in the commercial catchings that attract our dollars or the day can be filled with quiet pursuits that draw us into a closer relationship with mothers, grandmothers, surrogate mothers, and the God who gave us these individuals. My prayer is that more will choose the latter path; one that is intrinsic and sustaining. The path that more tightly knits us with special people in our lives.
Reflecting back on many Mothers Day observances of the past, I recall the traditions. Even as a child at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Cincinnati, OH, Mothers Day meant everyone wearing a rose — either red or white, depending on whether mother was still with us or gone on to be with the Lord. The many dinners at crowded restaurants. The cards that mom read and later added to a collection that she would occasionally retrieve to celebrate the years gone by. And the gifts. How happy I was to purchase a top-of-the-line microwave oven in 1984. Sounds prehistoric at this point, but the memory remains fresh in my minds’s eye.
Surely, many readers have memories of the same.
And yet, for so some, Mothers Day is connected to layers of deep-seated emotional hurts. A mother who sells her body to pay for illegal drugs. A mother who ended the life of an unborn child or another family member. A mother who rarely, if ever, exhibited love and affection. A dear friend of mine has a beautiful mother, who in the tragic circumstances that befall people, took his father’s life. A relative whom I love like a brother has, as the last image of his mother, the experience of watching a terrible automobile accident that claimed his entire nuclear family, leaving his mother decapitated. With these terrible realities, how can Mothers Day be little more than 24 hours of misery? Can Mothers Day be redemptive when it conjures up secret hurts and disappointments?
The inevitable duality of happiness and sorrow that St. Augustine pondered in City of God finds us on Mothers Day 2014. We often pose these questions, followed by empty prescriptions that only under-appreciate the tensions that Mothers Day brings many who walk among us. As such, we offer no such scripted responses, but a hope in Jesus Christ to turn the tears of tremendous suffering into healing and comfort.
This Mothers Day finds me in a very different place than 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. With a mother who is fighting the debilitating illness of Alzheimer’s Disease, my prayers go out to others who find themselves in similar circumstances. Today’s blessings are much more simple. In past years, one hoped that a dress would fit mother just right or that she would love the scent of a perfume. Now, I’m thankful when mother looks up from her bed and recognizes me. Mom’s ability to utter the name of a person to whom she gave life will be more precious than any gift in past times. Questions about a “right gift” are now replaced with, “Will mom eat a decent amount of her food today?”
Leading up to this Mothers Day, I have been preparing to transition mom from the nursing center to home. Placing her there tore my spirit, coming after God allowed a number of incidents to convince me that she needed a skilled nursing environment. We are looking forward to the opportunity to bring her back to familiar surroundings.
While working on her bedroom, I remembered sitting at the bedside of my cousin Ron in what would be my last visit before his passing. Then the enemy’s (i.e., devil’s) attack: “Well, you are now preparing the room where your mother will one day die.” It was an attack to instill fear and sour the my joy of returning mom home. But it was in that moment that the Lord sent a confirming word, “You are preparing this place that your mother might live! You cannot know how long your mother will be with you, but you can provide her the joys of a comfortable setting until I call her to her ultimate home.“
In this spiritual warfare of replacing hopelessness with hopefulness, the Lord underscored the essence of Mothers Day. Not simply Hallmark Cards or McCormick & Schmick dinners, but more so a reminder that life on this side of mortality, “… is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. ” [James 4:14]
But that in that vapor, we are given this day to number the moments with mother. To strengthen bonds and demonstrably extend the love of God. To express our admiration and, if applicable, express our forgiveness. It is a day for children who have gone astray to apologize for causing unnecessary heartache and to commit to better days ahead. Mothers Day is a time to recall that no career, no college degree, no beautiful house, or no luxury car comes remotely close to the gift we share in a woman’s excruciating trauma that pushes us through the womb between blood and fluids. Indeed, Mothers Day is our time to cry out to the God, even if angry, “Why did you take my mother away from me?” And likewise, it is a day to sit quietly at the feet of the Lord to hear his answer.
Mother Day creates in us a range of emotions. Such are necessary responses in lives filled with experiences that triumphs, tragedies, fulfillment and disappointments. Wherever life finds you this year, find a place to thank God for establishing motherhood in his grand design to further mankind.
Be blessed. Enjoy your day.
And in closing, I encourage you to visit the “Honor Moms” page and to post a tribute to special people in your life who labor as mothers, grandmothers, and surrogate mothers. Just click here.
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