I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and will tear open the covering of their heart; there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild animal would mangle them.
Or what woman having 10 silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Mother's Day is Complicated. One of the universal truths of growing up is discovering your experiences of growing up are not the same as everyone else's. The majority of issues in couples, families, and friendships stem from a difference of expectations based on families of origin. For instance, I grew up believing everyone had a really amazing mother who worked full-time but also made time to give their kids every opportunity, help with school work, have a foot in both the Boy and Girl Scout troop, and still have time for church and service. I assumed everyone's mother shared leadership of the household with dad and loved them unconditionally. And that every mom was an amazing cook who filled her table with every stray kid and adult she could find.
However, I also learned at a young age that my stray friends didn't lead the same life I did. Some of them had parents suffering from addiction. Some came from split households and homes where they were ignored at best, or even hurt. Our home was their sanctuary. And it wasn't long after that when I figured out not everyone had a mom like mine. Some had no mom and even members of my extended family had moms that were absent, neglectful, or abusive. Some of my friends wanted nothing more than to be a mom and could not, while others had no desire to be a mom. Some had lost their mothers. Mother's Day is very hard for many people.
It has become popular in some circles to ignore Mother's Day because of these complications. It is, after all, not a church or Christian holiday. However, I don't know any therapists or pastors who advocate avoiding topics that are difficult or painful. Especially in the faith community. We face and embrace topics as scary as death and loss and change, money and sex, power and sin on a weekly basis. And we should. My prayer is that we be mindful this Sunday. The woman in your pew may be struggling to be a mother or lost a child. She may not be speaking to her mother or doesn't want to be one. The man in your pew may have recently lost his mother or not know who she is. As we celebrate with meals and gifts and flowers, may we be mindful in our celebrations, our prayers, our words, and offer the same grace we offer at the holidays as we recognize that they bring joy, as well as sorrow for many. And remember that the God who holds us close as a mother and father will be with us in our joy and our grief, and offer deep compassion we can share.