The Truth About Mothers' Day

truthU I have an amazing mother. I’m so grateful that God sorted that out. But Mother’s Day was always a bit weird in our house because both of my parents are orphans of one kind or another. Both of them felt the sting of abandonment and rejection. And I guess, my sister and I, by proxy felt the absence of something too. We intuitively understood that our parents didn’t have mothers, so to speak. So, we knew our mother was good but we also knew that not all mothers were. We knew that our mother was with us and for us and able to nurture us but we also knew that not all mothers did.


This is important to say out loud on Mother’s day. Because, in the celebration of the Hallmark triumph that it is, we can forget about the pain that runs right through the center of it. That kind of pain is most likely why my Dad always preached on Isaiah 49:15 on Mother’s day. ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?’ The question echoes around and feels like a rhetorical one as all of us long to answer it with a resounding ‘no, never’. But we can’t. Not if we are being honest.


See Mothers are a lot of things but one thing they are without a doubt is human. Shocking, I know. But it’s true. Mothers are human beings who get it right and wrong all the time. Mothers are capable of great evil and pain. Others are selfless and sacrificial in their love for their kids and the world.  Mothers are subject to making poor decisions, facing addictions and betrayals, abuse and fear can dictate their actions or lack of them. They are real people with real problems. Some of them use all their energy just to get out of bed to face another day. Others are Pinterest champions who keep perfect houses and cook like gourmet chefs. Still more, work hard every day to pay the bills and somehow have enough energy to play with their kids. Some are single, some are married, some are biological and some are God-given. And some just didn’t do any real mothering at all. I’ve known way too many people who were sold, exploited, beaten or simply abandoned by their mothers than I’d care to admit. Ever.


But admit it I will because I serve a God who tells the truth. And that truth has power. See, God doesn’t leave it to us to answer the question he raises in Isaiah 49. The questions hangs around for a while as we do a rolodex review of the various mothers we know. But by some amazing grace served up just like the perfect mother would - God tells the truth. “Even though she may forget, I will never forget you.’ says the Lord.


And there it is. As a mother myself I need to remind myself that God is the ultimate Mother. God does what I cannot do. God has my children in His hands forever. God will never forget. Not ever. God will never give up. God will never let us down. And as much as I want to be the very best mother I can, I will never be that good.


So, I take a deep breath on this mothers’ day to thank God for all the people I know who are doing their best to represent God’s intention of love through motherhood, including my own. I also breath out a sigh of truthful relief that I do not and will not ever live up to some ideal that doesn’t exist. I admit my human condition. And I remind myself that God is the perfect mother who loves my children more deeply and perfectly than I ever could.

I’m not sure how your Mother’s Day leaves you feeling. But I hope you can take the time to breath in and out some truth that might help set you free. Happy real Mothers’ Day.