My husband (who leads on our church’s preaching team) asked me to preach on Mothers’ Day months ago. And without hesitation I declined. He asked me again weeks later. Again I declined. I didn’t feel fit to stand in the pulpit on Mother’s Day. I didn’t even want to attend church that day. My Mother’s Day plan entailed sitting around in my bathrobe and slippers. I would not even brush my teeth. I would just eat baked ziti and chocolate truffles, and watch Wonder Woman—the movie, not the TV show. If you don’t know the difference, I’ll share an easy Wonder Woman reference guide: one had a male costume designer; the other had a female costume designer. I prefer the latter. My husband found someone to speak on Mother’s Day. Phew.
I’m not a mother. But I do have a mother. I owe my mother much. She taught me two life-altering things. 1) Skin color does not matter. It would have made no difference to her if I had married white, black, pink, or purple—impressive for a woman born before 1950. 2) The art of cooking. She is creative and gifted in the kitchen. Her food is not only tasty, but healthy—cooking like that takes talent.
They say when a woman learns that she’s pregnant a portion of her brain rewires. This is biologically adaptive so that she can attain the maternal instinct needed for her offspring to survive. The mother holding that newborn in her arms only solidifies that bond making it eternal. However, some mothers (though rare) break that biological bond.
My mother has given me the silent treatment the past four months. She has always lacked an appropriate maternal instinct towards me. I’ve got this thing psychotherapists call “mother hunger.” In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s akin to having “daddy issues.” Same concept except it’s a mommy wound instead of a daddy wound.
I have struggled the past four months trying to connect with my mother to no avail. My husband describes me as a little kid waiting at the window for her mommy to come home, except she’s not coming back.
Handprint cards and tulips aside, Mother’s Day can hurt. You may not have mother hunger, but maybe you carry some stubborn baby weight that refuses to depart per the models on magazine covers. Or maybe your kids can’t stand up and recite all the virtues of Beatrix Potter. Feeling a bit inadequate? You should. Because a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and mother. Wait, what? You heard me. At least society, and sometimes our most emotionally intelligent church members, tell us this. Interesting, because I’m certain a woman’s highest calling is to glorify God.
Fruitfulness for God’s kingdom means doing God’s work. Having no children or no spouse does not preclude a woman from doing this work. The garment of godly womanhood looks different on everyone. So let’s not stuff each other into human-made boxes, and close the lids.
I always say God has a sense of humor. And I rarely appreciate His cosmic humor because it usually means the joke is on me. A couple weeks ago my husband informed me we lost our Mother’s Day speaker, and could not find a replacement. I replied, “And? You know I’m not in the right mindset for this.” He went away, but approached me again—now his fourth attempt to get me to preach on Mother’s Day. Then it hit me, (and yes I can be this dense)—God wants me to preach on Mother’s Day. But really God? Why me? What will I say on Mother’s Day? Can’t you just leave me to my robe and slippers for that one day? Jesus was beaten, mocked, and nearly bludgeoned to death, then died on the cross, and rose from the grave. But I wanted to eat bon bons with dirty teeth.
I think Martin Luther said, “Those whom God would use mightily He wounds deeply.” Why is that my favorite quote? Not sure. Maybe I’m just dark that way. Like the kind of dark that could name a new black kitten Hester Prynne. (Don’t worry—I’m in therapy.) But maybe God planned for me to experience some pain in order to fulfill his purposes.
This notion that those who follow God should prepare for a lifetime of sunshine and lollipops is insane. Who told us that anyway? That following God means we will marry princes and have polite children. Or that our mommies will love us. Have we not read Job? Habakkuk? The New Testament epistles?
Maybe he allowed my mother wound so he can use me to help other woundees. You know how I know God loves me? That he cares? That I’m even on his radar? Because he would rather me preach on Mother’s Day than sit at home playing cranky pants.