After I came back from Richmond deflated from my only Christmas “celebration”, I volunteered to work Mother’s Day weekend. I likely would have worked anyway because I don’t like to go to church on that day.
To explain, I have written a letter to the churches.
Please do not acknowledge Mother’s Day.
By all means, celebrate Mother’s Day in the secular world and lift up mothers in all their glory, as they should be. Enjoy. Honor her in whatever way you believe she deserves but in all that is holy, please do not celebrate Mother’s Day in the church. It is painful.
I remember one church asked all the mothers to stand and be recognized. Another church provided flowers for all the mothers. My first church gave plants to the youngest mother and the oldest mother in the congregation. They were applauded, celebrated, lifted up in prayr and honored for being blessed by the gifts of God. It is a glorious moment given to those who are lucky enough to have children and families. What a moment to share and celebrate those women in the church who have truly gone above and beyond in life as they are honored for being mothers. God bless them all.
However, if you do feel the need to celebrate it, I want you to look around the congregation. Look into the eyes of the young lady sitting in the back of the sanctuary. Can you see her pain? She lost her daughter to cancer and missed hearing 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 in order to be strong in front of you. His wife wanted to be at home alone. She couldn’t handle the shame of sitting in your church on this particular day. They were expecting their first child three months ago, when she delivered a stillborn boy. All that is left is the receiving blanket they held him in, the ultrasound photos hanging in the nursery, and the footprints that were delicately placed in the memory box by the chaplain. To this day, that baby boy’s mother feels guilty, yet 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. You see, the churches that celebrate Mother’s Day will forget to honor fathers in the same way they honor mothers. For some reason, you believe that only mothers should be celebrated with such fanfare. For this hurting new father, it will be just another Sunday that he is not a dad. So I guess it’s good you won’t be recognizing him.
Can you hear that? Can you hear his heart hardening as the memories of abuse go 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 read him a bedtime story. He’s in counseling now because he almost relived that nightmare again, in front of his little girl. Only she will be able to soften his heart if he is willing to forgive.
The woman you see every Sunday won’t be there today. Before this day of celebration, the church was the one place where she felt she could have been accepted and honored for being who God made her to be. On this particular day however, you reminded her since she is not a mother, she is not worthy enough to stand and receive praise, a flower or a blessing. 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 should not happen. You, the church, continue 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 does not want the recognition but she doesn’t need the church to remind her that she is not worthy enough in your eyes, as society has already made that clear. “You are not a mother? You are not married? Why not? What’s wrong with her?”
I write this letter 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 feel ashamed when she can’t hold her crying child anymore. I write this letter 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 it for those who so desperately wanted to be mothers, yet are unable to. I write this letter for those who want to be accepted for 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 just isn’t enough.
A Voice for the Voiceless