It seems as Mother’s Day approaches a great emotional surge awakens the desire for celebrations to cease and acknowledgments to be done away with. Pastors are being encouraged to rethink having mothers stand to be recognized; some even suggesting churches stop handing out small gifts to mothers completely. Recently, I read a comment on a Mother’s Day post, expressing a desire for the day to be done away with altogether. A woman accused another of being insensitive after she expressed her opinion that honoring mom’s should continue. And the “insensitive” one was writing from a heart wounded by abortion and infertility. Ouch.
Ladies, I can’t take it anymore. This hurts my heart for so many reasons. And if it hurts mine, I can’t imagine how it must hurt our heavenly Father’s heart. Now, before you react and call me insensitive, let me finish please.
I understand the pain, for some, is from the longing to become a mom and infertility has robbed you from the experience. I don’t know the struggle personally, but I have walked beside some who do. I’ve wept and prayed long and hard for those I’ve known yearning to experience the miracle of creating a child within their womb – but wombs remain empty. And within these relationships, I’ve known women who allowed bitterness to replace what the womb couldn’t hold, and I’ve known others who—although crushed beneath the weight of desire—fought like crazy to remain free of that trap. They’ve congratulated and embraced others with pregnancy news even while longing to be the next one to share it.
Mother’s Day is also hard for those who have had their moms leave this earth and the day brings one more reminder of how much they miss her. We miss Pat's mom each Mother's Day and this year will be the first Mother's Day my niece and nephew spend without my sister. Loss is hard.
Broken relationships also make the day more than difficult and there are plenty who struggle with Mother’s Day due to the memories of an abusive mom. The day can easily cause the pain to intensify. Not growing up with an abusive mother doesn’t make it difficult to hurt for those who did. I’ve only heard portions of my friend Brynn’s story, but it hurts to listen as she shares bits and pieces of her past with me. Brynn suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her mother. I asked her to share her perspective on Mother’s Day…
Mother’s Day can be tough when you have a difficult mother. There are those who cannot have a relationship with their mom because of abuse. There was so much abuse in my home because of my mother, I didn’t know how to deal with it and kept it to myself.
Amazingly, I learned about God through an after-school program and accepted Christ when I was twelve years old. That’s how I survived my teen years. I cried as I read and marked up my Bible, and God was the only one I could talk to about my sadness. My mother continued to manipulate and control me after I became an adult. I went to Bible College with the hope of becoming a missionary. But I couldn’t return after my third year because I became suicidal and had difficulty concentrating. Instead, I married, started a family, and worked a full-time job. But, ten years later I became suicidal again and then again ten years after that.
When I turned fifty I no longer continued the trend of becoming suicidal; I finally got help from a licensed professional counselor and it took many years to work through my trauma. Through counseling, I learned that my relationship with my mother was detrimental to my well-being. My counselor taught me to care for myself – something I had never learned. It wasn’t easy, but I made the decision to remove myself from my mother’s control.
When I started to get better, I let her back in. But when I saw that my health was being hurt again, I had to remove her from my life again. My mother continues to try to guilt me into letting her back into my life. She stalks my siblings and me on the Internet and manipulates others into trying to reach us. She pays out tens of thousands of dollars to try to accomplish her desires, but because I’m a healed counselee, it no longer affects me like it did.
I spent many years protecting my mother. Her ability to use me strengthened her. She gets weak when she doesn’t have someone to control, so she finds people to buy who don’t realize the price they must pay for agreeing to be bought. When I share my story, people often assume I need to forgive my mother. But what people often misunderstand is that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Reconciliation requires action by both the offender and the abused. Since my mother has not made steps toward reconciliation, there’s nothing I can do to mend the relationship. I no longer feel guilty even when she throws barbs at me –which happens at least a couple times a year. She is responsible for her actions and I’m responsible for mine.
So I choose to pray for her well-being and her soul. Now, on Mother’s Day, I enjoy the legacy I was able to begin with my own children – by the grace of God. I love my children and they love me. It doesn’t get better than that!” – Brynn
Which do you relate to? Are you aching because of infertility? Grieving because of loss? Haunted by the pain of abuse? Whatever upsets you on this day, let me say, I'm sorry the day is hard for you. Truly, I am. But here's what I need to ask, does not acknowledging the day for some prevent the pain for others? When we turn our focus inward and only see what was lost—or what we desire but don't have—bitterness consumes hearts quickly. Bitter hearts promptly become jealous ones and when that happens it becomes impossible for anyone to stand before us without envy (Proverbs 27:4).
This is when we begin to believe if it's too painful for me - no one should enjoy it. King Solomon once found himself in the middle of a dispute between two women; each claiming to be the mother of one infant after death claimed the life of another. When his solution was to cut the baby in half, the birth mother begged him to give the baby to the other woman. But the other woman said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; cut him” (1 Kings 3:26). Have we become so jaded by loss and disappointment that we feel this way about Mother’s Day? If I can’t celebrate the day – I don’t want anyone to. We’ve forgotten how to “rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief] (Romans 1215, AMP). Instead, we’ve become a body of Believers who are unable to celebrate with others when our own life is hard or disappointing.
If your womb is empty, could there be the hope of motherhood through adoption, foster parenting or mentoring? Yes, I understand it's not the same as giving birth but there are many children in need of a mom, right? I’m asking the Lord to fill your heart with desire for His will – whatever that looks like.
If you have only the memory of a great mom – remember her this Mother’s Day. Shed tears for how you miss her but don’t begrudge the day every year because she can’t be with you. Honor her memory. Has someone stepped in as a mother figure when your birth mother was no longer there? Give thanks for her. Maybe you could find a mom who will spend the day alone and adopt her for the day. Celebrate someone's mom on this day – if not your own.
If you’re one haunted by abuse at the hands of your mother, I am asking the Lord right now to heal you from those wounds. I hope you can take the steps Brynn took to find healing. She is one of the most joyous ladies I know. Was a friend’s mother there for you during your hard years? Can you honor her? What about honoring our Spiritual mothers? Is there someone you can honor for pouring into your life spiritually?
One of God's top ten is to "Honor your mother and father" (Exodus 20:12) and when we are able to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, even when it hurts, we are also honoring God (Psalm 50:23).
If your heart aches when Mother's Day draws near – I am asking the Lord to soothe the pain. Maybe you're a mom walking beside someone who desires to be one – love on her this Mother's Day. Hug her tight. And if the Pastor asks mothers to stand in church please clap and honor them without resenting him for doing so. This is a true sacrifice of praise.
Honor Him as you honor a mother.