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Beyond the Surface of Mothering and Womanhood

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Biblical Womanhood series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful. I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day. A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie. Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

 

I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed.

 

So in an effort to acknowledge the wide continuum of womanhood and mothering, I’d like to offer this prayer and blessing.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you.

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you.

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you.

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you.

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you.

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you.

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day.

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths.

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you.

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you.

Forgive us when we assume that what we see on the surface is all there is to your story.

 

Forgive us when we assume that what we see on the surface is all there is to your story. We know in our midst there are women and mothers who:

Like Eve, have children with serious rivalry.

Like Hagar, have been discarded for a new family and are mothering alone.

Like Naomi, have tasted the bitterness of a child’s death.

Like the mother of Leah and Rachel, knows what it’s like to have one child favored over another by society.

Like Hannah, have been separated from your child at a young age.

Like Mary, have a complicated pregnancy story or

Like Tamar, have tried multiple ways to become a mother or

Like Rachel, have counted the months and years while other women in your family and circle of friends become pregnant.

Who like Rebekah, are drawn to one of your children more than the others.

Like David’s mother, is raising children after God’s heart and though you rejoice in watching them, don’t want to rub it in friends’ faces.

Like Ham’s mother have children whose substance abuse can cause problems.

Like Bathsheba, have sick children who may die.

Like Joseph and Benjamin, experienced the death of their mother.

Like Mary, have children with public legal situations and all you can do is watch.

You are engraved on the palms of God, both the seen and unseen, held together by Him.

 

Like the Shunammite woman when told by Elisha she would become pregnant, replied, “No, please do not mislead your servant!” Like her, not wanting to open doors to hope, only to have them slammed in your face.

Like Hannah, have known the provoking of a family member.

Like many, watched their mothers age and waste before their eyes.

Like Moses’ mother, reluctantly gave up her child because it wasn’t safe for you to bring her child up herself. Or

Who like Pharaoh’s daughter, were called to love and nurture children that weren’t yours by birth.

Like Timothy’s mother and grandmother, are steadily and without much fanfare or recognition teaching your children about the truths of God, sowing seeds for eternity.

Like the unnamed women who never quite fit into the norms of society, either never marrying or having children, yet wanting to.

You are in our midst.

We are called to be a people who rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Today our stage

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is big enough to do both.

 

We are called to be a people who rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Today our stage is big enough to do both.

 

For the seen and known joys of motherhood, we rejoice and smile and celebrate with you. For the seen and known suffering in motherhood, we ache with you.

For the private unseen and unknown joys of motherhood, like Mary, may you treasure them in your hearts. And for the private unseen and unknown sorrows and suffering of motherhood, may you know you don’t always have to be happy in our midst.

You are engraved on the palms of God, both the seen and unseen, held together by Him.

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering and womanhood are not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Let’s always be mindful.

Warmly and in your corner,

Amy

 

 

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Editor’s Note: This article is a compilation from two of Amy’s posts on her site, The Messy Middle, and has been published with permission. You can find both articles here and here.

Image Credit: Robert Benji, Creative Commons


Amy Young

About

Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she's having fun!).


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