Please don’t acknowledge Mother’s Day.
By all means, let’s celebrate Mother’s Day in the secular world and lift up mothers in all their glory, as they should be. My siblings and I are taking our mother out Sunday and celebrating her. Enjoy. Honor her in whatever way she deserves but in all that is holy, please do not celebrate Mother’s Day in the church.
I remember one church that asked all the mothers to stand. Another church provided flowers for all the mothers. Another church provided plants to the youngest mother and the oldest mother in the congregation. They were applauded, celebrated, lifted up in prayer and honored for being blessed by the gifts of God. It is a glorious moment given to those who are blessed to have children and families. What a moment to share and celebrate those women in the church who have gone above and beyond in life as they are honored for being mothers. God bless them all.
If you do celebrate it, please look around the congregation. Can you see the pain in the eyes of the quiet soul sitting in the back of the sanctuary? She lost her daughter six months ago to cancer and misses her little girl’s Mother’s Day wake up call. What about the young man sitting to your left? He is sitting alone and hiding his tears. His wife wanted to be at home alone. She couldn’t handle the shame that she would feel sitting in church. They were expecting their first child until three months ago, when she delivered a stillborn girl. All that is left is the receiving blanket they held her in, the ultrasounds photos hanging in her nursery, and the footprints and handprints that were delicately placed in the memory box by the nurse and chaplain. To this day, her mother feels guilty and she did nothing wrong, except try to be the best mother and wife she always wanted to be.
Then again, things will look up next month. It should be better for the husband; because the church will forget to honor fathers in the same way they honor mothers. It will be just another Sunday that he is not a dad.
Can you hear that? Can you hear his heart hardening as the memories of abuse flash through his mind? The pain of the belt snapping against his leg, followed by the sting that will forever be ingrained in his soul. The sound of broken glass crashes through his mind, just like when his mother threw the vodka bottle across the room. All he did was ask her to stop drinking and read him a bedtime story. He is in counseling now because he almost relived it all again, in front of his little girl. Only she can soften his heart if he is willing to forgive.
The young woman doesn’t go to church on Sunday because it is the one place where she felt she could have been accepted and honored for being who God made her to be. On this day though, the church reminds her that since she is not a mother, she is not worthy enough to stand and receive a flower. She already feels worthless because she doesn’t have a husband, children, or people to call her family. The last thing she wants to feel is dehumanized by the very place where it shouldn’t happen. The church continues to honor families and marriages that were commanded in Genesis, and she sits in shame because she is unable to be fruitful and multiply.
She doesn’t want the recognition but she doesn’t need her pastor and the church to remind her that she is not worthy enough in the eyes of the church, as society has already made that clear. “You are not a mother? You are not a wife? What’s wrong with you? What have you done?”
I write this piece for the infants I’ve baptized, dedicated and blessed who never took a breath, for the children whose lives were cut too short, and their mothers who I had no answers for. I write it for all who try to live up to unrealistic societal expectations of what it means to be a “successful” mother, yet cries when she can’t hold her crying child anymore. I write it for those who are abused physically, emotionally and verbally, by the very people who will be asked to stand in celebration of their motherly title, yet have no idea what that title means. I write this piece for those who want to be accepted for just being made in God’s image and not everyone else’s expectations.
I write this for those who won’t be in church on Sunday because they don’t want to hear in the one place where it should be safe, that being who she is just isn’t enough.
A Voice for the Voiceless