When Mother's Day Brings Up Difficult Memories

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2016 7 May

Two friends holding their fingers high in peace signs.

Sometimes we’re clueless about what’s good for us. We may, for instance, resist saving money when we think we have too little or refrain from exercising when we feel tired. But spending every last penny or making a habit of surrendering ourselves to the couch doesn’t usually produce positive results. Similarly, we can be tempted to spin a little cocoon around ourselves whenever we become depressed, anxious, or sad. Though it’s good to examine the issues that are troubling us, we can’t allow them to suck us into a whirlpool of self-concern.

Several years ago Nancy Guthrie was approaching Mother’s Day with the distressing realization that it would be the only one she would ever celebrate with her five-month-old baby, Hope, who suffered from a rare metabolic disorder. Determined to focus on the gift of her child rather than the sorrow she felt that her baby would not live long, Nancy began thinking of all the people she knew who had lost their mothers or their children, or who had never even been able to have children. And then she did something incredible:

“I made a list and went to the store to buy Mother’s Day cards. . . . It is not easy to find a big selection of cards for women who’ve lost their mothers or mothers who’ve lost children, so I had to improvise. But I sent out a big stack of cards. . . . Early Mother’s Day morning, I called a woman in my church who had buried her mother who died of breast cancer the month before. . . . Then at church that morning, I looked over and saw a woman with four small children whose husband had recently left her. I walked over and wished her happy Mother’s Day, telling her that I thought she was an incredible mother to her children. It seemed to matter. There’s something good that happens to me when I’m able to get my eyes off of my own pain and minister out of it to other people who are hurting.”1

Taking the focus off ourselves when we are feeling down requires strength and grace. But doing so releases the power of love in us, a power that can bring peace even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

  1. Nancy Guthrie, “Healing My Heart,” Beliefnet, http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Holidays/Mothers-Day/Healing-My-Heart.aspx.