Mother's day is just around the corner and for many the day is full of joy and celebration. Still, there are those who might have a few mixed emotions on this holiday. The idyllic imagery of motherhood often doesn't match up with the reality of life -- the reality that the relationships involved with motherhood are often far more complicated than we would wish.
The sting of emptiness. Mother's day can be hard for those without children, those who have birthed children but the children have since been adopted, those who have buried their children and those who have experienced abortion. The emptiness can sting our hearts as we watch happy families celebrating their beloved mommies, and we feel painfully left out. We can journey into the dark hallway of "why me?"
While it may sound simplistic, God fills empty places. I have personally watched Him reach through holes in my life to touch others with hope and healing. And I have seen Him put broken pieces back together in ways that simply took my breath away. He sees your hurt and He cares. (1 Peter 5:7, Psalms 145:16, Isaiah 54:1)
Mistakes Made. Then there are those who are mothers, but perhaps have not been able to embrace the task with excellence. Sometimes life's circumstances and baggage pull women's hearts in ways that make them unable to give love, attention or care to their little ones.
God's mercies are new every morning! Ask God and your family for forgiveness. Then walk in the Lord's grace. Don't be afraid to ask for help in your high calling as a mom. Find someone who can mentor and encourage you as you seek to remedy your past mistakes. (Lamentations 3:22-23, James 5:16, Titus 2:3-5)
The sorrow over estranged or rebellious children. Many parents struggle under the heaviness of heart that accompanies children who have gone astray. I have watched women who have been successful in every other area of life become utterly paralyzed with grief because of a grown child's drug addiction, abandonment of their family or other hurtful choices. A mom recently told me that after her son had an affair and consequently divorced his wife, she felt as if he had been unfaithful to her as well and the entire family, not just his wife.
Many grandparents are raising their grandkids because their own children have been unable to do so. My husband and I are deeply grateful for the ways our grandparents stepped in to fill in the gap for our parents. And while there is great good that come from such a situation, it isn't without grief for those grandparents who long to see their own children making healthy choices.
In these situations, remember: God is sovereign. He turns the hearts of kings, so keep praying! Know that the Lord understands your sorrow because He has watched with grief as His children rebelled against Him. Nothing is too hard for Him, so hang onto hope that your children will one day walk with their Lord. After all, if you aren't praying and believing for them, who is? (Proverbs 21:1, Isaiah 1:2, Jeremiah 32:27)
The sadness over a mother who wasn't a mom. I heard a comedian making light of this topic. He was joking about how as a good son you are supposed to get your mom a card for Mother's Day, but if she really wasn't much of a mom, how do you find a card that doesn't rub it in or just straight out lie? While the routine was funny, the reality of it isn't. I know kids who have been left on street corners by their mom, or dumped with strangers. The pain from abandonment, rejection, and abuse can affect you long into adulthood.
God is big enough for the hurt and disappointment, and His love can heal any mistakes our parents might have made. These verses have meant a great deal to my heart over the years: Psalms 27:10, Isaiah 49:15-16, Jeremiah 31:3, 2 Corinthians 6:18.
The grief over a mom who has passed away. Mother's Day is hard for those who are missing their moms. No one can replace her, and Mother's Day is a keen reminder of her absence.
Jesus' response to the grief over the death of a loved one was to cry (John 11:35). He has compassion on our sorrow! Death wasn't part of His original design. He doesn't like it anymore than you do! He has, however, not left us without hope! We have hope for life in heaven with Him and our family of believers.
Give your grief over to the Lord (Psalms 147:3, Psalms 116:15, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Also, if you are missing your mom, there just might be a mother out there who is grieving over a child. Pray for the Lord to use you in the midst of your pain -- you might be surprised at what He does!
At the end of the day, we have to trust that our loving and sovereign Lord has something for our good and His glory planned for us. We don't get to pick our moms, and we don't get to pick our kids. None of us are perfect, so we are guaranteed to bump into each other a bit. We can choose to be disappointed and bitter with life's lot, or we can hang on to hope that God is up to something good. We can fall on our knees and ask God to do a new work in us so that we might be godly moms and women from this day forward.
Regardless of our mistakes or the mistakes our moms made, God's grace is big enough to cover it all -- and that is definitely worth celebrating!
April Motl and her husband, Eric, minister at their church in Southern California where he is a pastor on staff. April is the founder of In His Eyes Ministries; a teaching ministry devoted to helping women see their life from God's perspective. For more information about the ministry visit www.InHisEyesMinistries.com.