Today, I’m over at Arabah Joy’s blog doing the Grace & Truth link up. Join us HERE!
It seems in the last several years, celebrating Mother’s Day has become somewhat of a touchy issue. In fact, my default for Mother’s Day has become to feel somewhat guilty and try not to look too happy, because some people might find that offensive or painful.
Please don’t get me wrong. I do feel compassion for the woman sitting in a church service bleeding on the inside while all the moms stand up to get their flower or bookmark or little book. I get that that is hard and painful to see others celebrating what you don’t have and desperately want or what you have lost.
I do feel compassion for the woman who sits in the pew and has lost her mom through death or misunderstanding or mental illness. I get that that is hard and painful to see others enjoying a relationship and a connection you wish desperately you had or that you have lost.
I have friends who have walked this road, who have lost a child or couldn’t have a child or who lost their mother or no longer speak to their mother. In fact, there is a woman at my church who lost both her mother and her son this year. My heart goes out to her and I regularly pray for her and others for whom Mother’s Day is painful and difficult.
But I’m not sure how guilting or shaming women who do celebrating being a mom takes away the pain for the women for whom, for whatever reason, Mother’s Day is difficult.
Instead of drawing together and supporting each other in whatever stage we happen to be in, Mother’s Day has become just another way that women end up hurting each other. Somehow, instead of encouraging each other, we end up fighting about whose experience is most valid and worthy of support. The truth is the young mom with 3 kids under 4 years old deserves a day to be celebrated just as much as the woman who has lost a child due to miscarriage deserves empathy and compassion.
It really doesn’t have to be either/or.
Romans 12:15 addresses both of the groups that face Mother’s Day – the one with joy and the one with dread – when it says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
The word rejoice is the Greek word chairo and means to rejoice exceedingly, to be glad. This verse is specifically talking to believers. In fact, there is a whole list of ways believers are to treat each other in this chapter, but one thing we can do is to be glad for someone even if they have something that we want but don’t have. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially if your heart yearns for what that person has and is celebrating.
Recently, my Facebook feed was full of pictures for Siblings Day (not sure who came up with that one), and I’ll be honest. It was hard to look at all the pictures posted of siblings, smiling and laughing or being goofy together. It was hard because my brother is no longer here. Their happiness reminded me of my own loss in a poignant and painful way, but that didn’t mean I wanted everyone else to NOT celebrate their siblings or to stop posting pictures. That sibling relationship is special and worth celebrating. I was happy for them, even though my smile came through tears.
At the same time, the word weep is the Greek word klaio which means to mourn, to lament or to bewail. When our sister in Christ hurts, we aren’t supposed to just pat her on the back and move on. We are to enter her grief with her, to cry with her. That’s called empathy and it is something that often doesn’t come naturally to us. We tend to be selfish creatures and it’s easy to just focus on our own lives and families or to allow busyness to make us careless about other’s feelings. But this isn’t a suggestion. It is written in the form of a command in this passage of Scripture. No matter how hard or how difficult, entering into another person’s pain is a meaningful way to love that person and to lift them up.
So, as Mother’s Day approaches, I’d like to suggest a plan. How about if those who struggle with the day determine they will rejoice with those who rejoice, that they will smile for their sister in Christ even if that smile comes through tears, and that they will give themselves the gift of doing what they need to do to get through the day without guilt or defensiveness.
And how about if those who enjoy the day take the time to look around and acknowledge the pain and difficulty of this day for those who do struggle. Maybe send them a card or offer a hug or just listen. Give them the grace to bow out of services or celebrations if it is just too painful. Take a moment to encourage them to take care of their own emotional well-being.
Let’s determine that instead of judgment or taking offense or becoming defensive, we will grant each other some grace on this Mother’s Day – grace to celebrate and grace to bow out; grace to feel joyful and grace to feel sad. In other words, let’s love each other because love smooths over all those pesky human frailties.
How about you? Is Mother’s Day hard, easy or some combination of both? I’d love to hear about it!