When Mother’s Day is Painful

baby feetMother’s Day is a day I both cherish and dread. Cherish, because of the sweet bond my three living children and I share. We giggle and play, worship and love. Yet, I also dread this holiday too. Why? Because I have two babies in heaven.

I wouldn’t wish them back for anything. (I often tell my audiences that I have five children. Two are with Jesus and the other three are stuck with me.)  But Mother’s Day is a sharp reminder of their absence in my arms. It fuels my longing for little Taylor and Morgan and resurrects memories of the heart-rending moments when I felt I couldn’t breathe from the pain of loss.

I doubt I’m alone.

Anyone who has battled infertility, anyone who has lost their own precious mother or has suffered the death of a child, anyone who has a mother in prison or is estranged from their children, or anyone who had an outright abusive relationship with their mother might feel the same.

Do you know what makes this day doubly hard? The Mother’s Day themed services in church.

Please don’t get me wrong. I adore my fun-loving mother dearly, as well as my sweet mother-in-law. They deserve all the praise and love my heart can offer. But I think many church leaders forget something in all their planning. No, make that two things. One, not everyone had a loving, kind, June Cleaver type of mom. Two, we go to church to worship Jesus, not women.

Having every song resolve around our ‘dearly departed mother’, or ‘the faith of mom’ or the irreplaceable love of a mother can feel like a slap in the face to those whose loss is fresh, or worse yet, is desperately longing for a baby to fill their arms.

I once mentioned to my own mother that someone had asked me to sing a Mother’s Day song that went along the lines of, “I remember when Momma used to read to us from the Bible, but she died and now she’s sitting with Jesus…” Mom scowled. “I’m not dead yet! Sitting with Jesus would be wonderful but don’t kick me out of here before He says I’m ready!” I want to enjoy and celebrate the time we have together now…not wallow in the sadness I’ll feel when she’s gone.

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Along those same lines, focusing every song, every word, every moment on mothers doesn’t leave much room for Jesus. He’s the reason we come, after all. (Or should be.) When my focus is on Him, my own pain doesn’t seem so deep. Motherhood is wonderful but we ought not let it push Christ from the center of our worship. I’d much rather kneel at the feet of the One who made us than be put on a pedestal from which I’ll surely fall.

So what am I saying? Just this: be sensitive. Be aware. Mother’s Day is not a wholly delightful day for some. It’s a mixed bag. And sadly, there are others who find it to be pure emotional distress. (I’ve known a number of women who choose to stay home on Mother’s Day Sunday because they cannot deal with the distress it stirs up.) The last thing I want to do is inflict more hurt on those battling through the hard things.

Be thoughtful. Be sensitive. Honor your mother. Worship Jesus. If we can do that, it will be a blessed day indeed.

shepherd staffFor those of you in the middle of a difficult Mother’s Day, you are loved by God. He sees. He knows and He’s holding you in the palm of His hand. You are not alone.

What about you? Do you struggle on Mother’s Day? Are there things you wish churches would do differently on holidays? What is the best way you’ve found to honor your Mom? 

 

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