We spend so much of our time and energy working on our relationship with the Father…what about the mother?
So maybe we have our Heavenly Father and a father here on earth, but there’s only one person who fits the role of a mother. I cannot speak for everybody’s unique situations, but generally speaking, that human but still beyond amazing woman considered “mother” is the one who has nurtured us, taught us right from wrong, and helped mold us into the people we are today.
Being a mother sure isn’t an easy job. Anyone who downs play it has obviously never done it. That’s why I’m not about to try and pretend to know what it’s like. Instead, I’m here to celebrate all people out there God calls to be mothers, the ones raising another generation through hard work, lots of patience, and grace.
An especially important mother: Mary
There are so many mothers in the Bible that I cannot include each one, but let this focus on Mary not discount the dignity of each motherly depiction. Too often all we knew of these women was their role as a mother, to bear as many children as possible, but they were so much more than that. We can only assume their characters were as strong as their children’s.
While I’m not Catholic, and I don’t believe the mother of Jesus was entirely sinless and above human, I think my respect for her deepens in recognizing she is just like the rest of us. God laid before her a very daunting task: become pregnant as a virgin (that alone is beyond overwhelming!) and raise the Son of God. She could have tried to rebuke the divine intervention, or become immensely angry and frustrated, or become paralyzed with fear thinking of all that’s expected of her.
She did none of those things. In Luke 1:38, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” She was obedient to our gracious God. Just as the angel told her, she was not afraid. She knew God loved her and that He would not give her a challenge she wasn’t equipped to handle.
That’s a part of motherhood not often discussed: fear. Uncertainty. It’s a huge responsibility to bring new life into the world and care for it. Even if we’re expecting the new opportunity to come, we prepare with all the information and resources we can (think of all the new mother and parenting books on store shelves!), there’s bound to be something that catches us off guard.
Was Mary perfect? Nope.
Jesus may be perfect, but Mary was not likely the perfect mother. She didn’t make every single correct decision. How was she to prepare and anticipate raising the Prince of Peace? All she and any mother can do is her best. And according to God’s Will, a mother’s best is exactly what that child needs.
I know the relationship I have is mother isn’t perfect. It used to particularly strained. I remember my angsty teen years resenting her, projecting my own low self-esteem and self-worth on her. Even when she put in all her hard work, I didn’t work to meet that level, limiting true communication and understanding.
I’m so humbled and grateful to say my mother is now my best friend. Through those difficult years, I’ve matured to learn that my mother, like Mary, is not perfect. She is human. She is doing her best, exactly what is written in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I tend to not be the best when it comes to listening to advice. Plenty of times, my mother will instill her experience and wisdom in me, and I learn the hard way of going against her teaching. No, she isn’t perfect, but she is the exact teacher, nurturer, and role model I need. I could not ask for anything for. God has blessed me.
A child’s responsibility
Again, I’m not a mother, so what I know best is being the child, the recipient of motherly love. A mother’s work is certainly the harder of the two roles, but a child has his/her own responsibilities.
The most obvious and all-encompassing responsibility is to honor thy mother and father, just as the Commandment tells us. Deuteronomy 5:16 says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
Yes, we are all children of God first, but close behind it is we are children of our parents. They devote their lives to and make sacrifices for us. They provide us the tools we need to go out into the world, to support us in our unique journeys.
If your family life is not the one likely described in Scripture, if you feel abandoned and betrayed by your parents, if they have sinned against you or others, you might think that this honor doesn’t apply. I then pray you have someone, anyone, who might fill that motherly role for you, regardless if they gave birth to you or not. I pray you receive the support you need and deserve because God would not forsake you. And I pray that whoever your mother is, you give her grace for her faults.
Many children do not have mothers. While this should strengthen your own gratitude for the many gifts in your life, it should reaffirm that, whether we are mothers or not, we can all love; that is our one true religion. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Be a caretaker to others. Just because we have not bore children, or we’ve already bore children, doesn’t mean our maternal love has a limitation. The definition of “mother” is malleable.
For all families, I hope you have a lovely Mother’s Day! Spread some love. Express all your gratitude. Make the most of every precious moment you have. What are your plans for celebrating a mother in your life?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie