I think we've got it all wrong.
What about the mothers of angel babies? What about the mothers who definitely DON'T have it all together? What about the dads, daughters, and grandmothers who are left to raise the family when mom is gone? What about mothers who are left to raise the kids alone? What about those who long to be mothers and never will? What about moms whose children are so far from where they dreamed they'd be that they could hardly stand up with all those “perfect mothers”? I could go on and on...
Guess what? Those “perfect mothers” you see when you stand and look around on Sunday morning? Not perfect. And how about you check out those women who are still sitting down. The ones who have lost little ones, choking back tears in the back. The ones who take care of your children in Sunday school with the love they would pour out on their own children, who rock your little ones to sleep in the nursery. So many women with so much pain and longing and exhaustion and disappointment.
Now, I happen to think my mother is an amazing woman who has done an amazing job of raising her kids to the best of her ability. I think my mother in law raised an amazing man. I should know. But do you know why I really believe this? Let me point you to a historical character who best illustrates the key to motherhood.
No, I'm not talking about Susanna Wesley, who had a whole bunch of kids and probably loved Jesus and that's about all we know of her. No, I'm not talking about a mother at all. I'm talking about a man who was the scum of the earth, who lost his own mother as a boy and turned to slave trading rather than God. Yep, I'm talking about John Newton, the man who is famous for being a wretch. Why? Because of what he wrote. “Amazing grace,” he said. “Through many dangers, toils and snares”-- sound like motherhood? My moms are incredible because of the grace of God, any way you look at it. Their greatest gift to us is the picture they painted of grace. That they love us no matter what we do, that they are loved no matter what they do.
I can move on because of grace. God loves me. I've had to wander to figure that out-- maybe not to the extent that John Newton did... but God loves me no matter what I do. God cares for me no matter what. I don't understand it. I don't know why motherhood and life are surrounded by such pain. But grace. Grace. A man I don't care for much (to put it lightly) described grace as “The desire and power to do what is right”... *EVIL ALERT* Grace is knowing that even if we do absolutely nothing right, that God loves us and is for us. Grace has brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.
That's what I hope you hang on to this Mother's Day. Ignore the moralistic hymns about “the Christian home” and the sermons based on Solomon's description of one woman. See through the facade of perfect motherhood that society worships today. Hold on with all your might to the grace of God, and give a mother in pain a big hug today. Tell her she matters. Tell her that her little one in heaven matters. Tell him he's doing a great job as a father-mother. Thank her for raising her kids in grace. Bring someone a meal, or a latte. Be real. And live in grace.