Imagine it’s Sunday at 7pm and you’re seeing everyone’s posts about what they got for Mothers’ Day… you’re starting to wonder if your husband forgot. Perhaps it’s your first Mothers’ day and your Mother- In-Law invited everyone over for Sunday lunch so you spent the day at your in-laws’ when you really wanted it to be all about you. Maybe you made hints a dozen times about something you were really hoping for, and you hate the gift your husband picked out… or your kids made it their personal mission to make you crazy on a day they’re supposed to be perfect.
Can you relate to any of those scenarios? Do any of them speak to your fears? I will say I have seen all of them ranted out on various Facebook mom groups. If you’re not on guard against it, self-focus can leave you ending a day that was supposed to be filled with love and celebration with a heart brimming with frustration and bitterness. But that’s not the only consequence of a self-focused Mothers’ day. Hopefully the following list will lead to self-awareness, repentance, and the opportunity to bless other women and glorify God. And don’t worry… I’m preaching to myself along with you.
1. Feeling Bitterness and Disappointment Instead of Gratitude and Joy
Your children, your husband, and your mother-in-law can only “ruin” your Mothers’ Day if you allow them to. Ultimately you alone are responsible for the attitude of your heart. Listen sister, God is sovereign over how your Mothers’ Day plays out… and like everything else, he will use it for your good and his glory. A holiday doesn’t excuse your contempt for your mother-in-law, your bitterness towards your husband, or your exasperation with your children. His commandments still apply… and there is still life within them:
Faithfulness to acknowledge God as the giver of your children and the privilege of being their mama grows gratitude even if your husband forgets Mothers’ Day. The decision to honor your husband’s mother protects your heart from hatred and contempt and grows appreciation and selflessness. The humility to receive a gift you’re given, even if it isn’t what you were hoping for, fosters love between you and the giver of that gift instead of a fight or an evening filled with passive aggressive distance.
And just like every other day, God will use whatever you encounter to reveal your need for him, and the grace available through his son is still sufficient for all of your shortcomings.
2. Missing Ministry Opportunities with Hurting Mothers
Mothers’ Day is meant to be a day of celebration, but for many, it’s a dreaded holiday. Consider the moms who have lost children or miscarried, children (young or grown) who have lost their mothers, widows or wives of deployed servicemen who don’t have husbands to take their kids shopping for gifts/flowers/ cards, mothers with prodigal children who will not honor them. If you’re filled with anxiety about being acknowledged or celebrated in the way you want to be, there’s no energy left to faithfully care for the widow, orphan, or deserted mother. Isn’t this exactly the work to which we are called as believing women? What if this Mothers’ Day you were so consumed with thoughts of these women that you could experience the beautiful rest of forgetting yourself? It would be a blessing for you and those hurting mamas.
3. Failing to Acknowledge and Love Women Longing for Children
Another demographic that Mothers’ Day may be particularly difficult for are the women who are longing to be mothers. They may be waiting on an adoption list… They may be trying to conceive or undergoing infertility treatments… They may be single and longing for a husband so they can start a family. But for whatever reason they’re either weary from waiting or giving up hope. For these women, Mothers’ Day screams “Your arms are empty!” Acknowledging their pain doesn’t make it worse, I promise. Everyone longs to be seen… and you can’t see others when your eyes are on yourself. Be the hands and feet of Jesus to those women this weekend.
***Practically, you can use the simple expression (especially in a card, note, or not a text) “I’m believing in faith that one day you’ll be a mother and praying for your heart as you wait today.” or “I don’t know how you’re experiencing today, but I wanted to you to know that I am longing with you for you to experience motherhood one day.” A small gift to accompany your sentiment shows your intentionality.
4. Neglecting to Honor the Mothers Who Have Impacted Your Life
Another group you may fail to see if your eyes are only focused only on yourself: Your “spiritual” Mothers. These are the women who have blessed you and loved on you, taught you and shepherded you. They may have children of their own, and they may not. But their faithfulness should be celebrated along with all the other types of “mothers” on this day. Reach out and let them know how they’ve helped shape and mold you and how grateful you are. Honor them.
5. Upstaging God’s Glory in Pride and Arrogance
It’s not wrong to be celebrated and receive acknowledgement for a job well done. The apostle Paul celebrates people all throughout his letters… but the cry of the heart of a self-focused mom on Mothers’ day is “I deserve praise, honor, glory.” It longs to be worshiped. But to God alone belongs all glory and honor forever. It is he who made you. It is he who gave you your little ones, whether he grew them in your womb or the womb of their brave birth mother. Mothers’ Day is a day that should be spent praising him for his kindness and benevolence.
Sweet mama, the work that you're doing is hard and full of long days but it is so valuable. Your God sees and knows all that you are doing. He loves you and rejoices over you with singing. It is his grace that sustains you through all the tantrums, the fevers, and all the wiping of counters, noses, and bottoms. This week, I pray that you and I would be protected not only by the knowledge that he sees all that we are doing, but also by the knowledge of all that God has done for us in Christ Jesus.
Join me in praying that he would reveal our selfishness to us and help us to long for his glory over our own. Pray that he would make us aware of other specific women we can love for his sake when our hearts are so prone to self-concern. Pray that he would humble us and open our eyes to the ways that he has blessed us beyond anything we deserve. Pray that he would make us like Jesus through Mothers' Day.