At the risk of being labeled as an Anti-Mother’s Day Crusader, I decided to speak up in my last post and shed light on something that I believe is a blind spot. But today I want to set the record straight.
Comments to that post flooded in. They came via the blog itself, on three Facebook pages I administrate, my email, and the most raw and tender ones came for my eyes only via my website.
I hit a nerve. I’ve heard the same refrain repeated for years now. Many women simply will not step foot in a church on Mother’s Day because it hurts too much. I thought pastors and deacons and mothers should be aware of that.
The responders all shared their stories of loss with me. Every one who sympathized had either experienced a hurtful Mother’s Day service themselves or were closely related to someone who did.
Others argued about their right to celebrate Mother’s Day. Some callously said hurting women need to “buck up and get over it.” It may surprise you that the ones who responded this way were all mothers. Maybe I put them on the defensive; that wasn’t my intent. Yes, I get it. We all get it. It’s difficult to be a mother and it’s a tremendously significant and often-unappreciated role.
When I was on staff with Campus Crusade, Dr. Bright used to frequently tell us, “Dead people don’t have rights.” As we die to self and put each other’s needs above our own, we can stop demanding the treatment we want and extend that grace and mercy to others instead.
One friend summed it up well: “Loss hurts. God cares. So should we.”
That really was my whole point. Shouldn’t we care like Jesus does? God’s Word tells us he’s near to the brokenhearted. Shouldn’t church be a place where people feel loved and welcomed? And what place really does Mother’s Day have there? It’s just a manufactured holiday that supports the flower and card industries. I would think acts of kindness, gifts and phone calls from your children would mean more on a day when they don’t feel compelled, even hounded, to do so. (As one person commented, “Father’s Day is marginalized but God help us if we ever forget Mother’s Day.”)
Yes, let’s validate the role of motherhood but can’t we please take it down a few notches in church? That’s all I wanted to say.
Imagine what it would be like if pastors asked everyone who had a healthy marriage to stand up in church on Valentine’s Day. Wouldn’t that make the ones who are divorced, widowed, never-married, or struggling with an unloving marriage feel bad? In not doing that, it doesn’t mean that we stop promoting good, healthy marriages. It just means we’re trying to empathize.
As someone who spent my childbearing years as a single missionary, waiting on God for the right husband and not wanting to settle, when He did bring Steve and I together, it was too late for the children part. I haven’t struggled with the level of pain that many of my sisters have, although not having children arrives hand-in-hand with loss to all women.
I sure have felt awkward every Mother’s Day when I’d be one of the few women left sitting. And sickened by the too-sugary accolades for mothers who can do no wrong, especially compared with the following month’s exhortations for dads to step up. Believe me, I’ve had more than my share of injustices and being treated like a second-class citizen (and I’ve experienced the joy and peace only the Lord gives when we take those hurts to Him).
But I’ve never had the sharp, unbearable pain some have. That’s why I volunteered myself to stand up for them and bring this controversial topic out into the light to be examined. Let’s change what needs changing in order to comfort those who weep while celebrating with those who rejoice. If I’ve given pause to anyone who plans church services for next Mother’s Day, then it was worth it to speak up.