Spring can be so inspiring! It's a season of so much new life. The trees put on their airy spring dresses, flower bulbs burst though the cool dirt and baby animals make their way out into the world. Then, there’s Mother’s Day. Moms everywhere get phone calls, greeting cards, fancy pancakes or scribbled works of art.
If you let the sun warm your skin and think on all of that life, it can be enough to make your heart swell with joy. Unless…
Unless you’ve been longing for new life in your womb or your home and you have not received that blessing.
Unless you have felt the glow of life within, only to have it taken from you before you could even know who that child was.
Unless the places your child sat to eat, ran to play and laid down to sleep are now mournfully empty.
Unless your adult children will not call, or even text, to tell you Happy Mother’s Day.
Understanding other ladies’ hearts
I want us to pause and consider those whose cup to drink on mother’s day is much more bitter than orange juice in bed poured with sticky fingers. But don’t get me wrong sister; healthy understanding for those with hurting hearts does not require, nay has no place for guilt regarding your blessings. We can have joy and be grateful for God’s gifts to us while we hold the space for our hurting sisters.
First of all, we need to remember that we cannot change how other ladies respond to their difficulty. Having fallen into one of the categories above myself, I’ve noticed an unfortunate tendency in my comrades. Occasionally those struggling with infertility or loss of a child attack people whose joy about their blessings bubbles over in light-hearted joking. Or there are times when us moms complain about the difficulties of parenting, and it seems like salt in their wound. I’m sure you can understand how easy it would be to recoil in hurt if you were in their position.
We can, however, guard our own hearts and minds. If you are the recipient of that sort of backlash, you can remind yourself of the hurt she must be feeling. You can consider the weight of your words, honoring the Lord who gives as well as the one who has felt the sting of the “taking away”.
Practical ways to love on hurting hearts this mother’s day
Knowing this, what can we do? This Mother’s Day, maybe you know someone whose heart may be hurting. I hope you take this opportunity to reach out and offer sweet words or a kind gesture. It just might be the salve that makes the church service bearable or takes the sting out of the quietness of the day. Here are a few ideas, but maybe the Lord will guide you to something else that would be just just the right thing for the ladies in your life.
My childhood church always bought a small flower for each child to give to their mother. You could buy a small houseplant or garden start for Sunday school teachers, youth leaders or any woman who has stepped into a leadership role for you children but might not get recognized. A couple of my friends without children take extra time to truly take an interest in my children and their lives. Any of these types of “Aunties” can always be thanked for the love they shower on our children, but Mother’s day is a perfect time to recognize spiritual mothers as well as physical ones
If you know someone who is struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss, I can tell you from experience that Sunday is going to be rough for them. And the chances are, they barely know how to feel about it themselves. While some might be able to receive it okay, most ladies would prefer a card to read later or something they don’t feel pressured to process while they’re around people. If you want to give them a gift, maybe arranging for her husband to leave the car door unlocked would be best. Or maybe you could drop it off at her home later. Any way you can help her feel seen will probably make all the difference; just be sure to consider how high her emotions may already be running.
Similarly, I know so many Christian women who are single but desire deeply to have a family. These ladies may struggle with guilt, thinking they’re being discontent or wonder if they have the right to wish they were being celebrated; after all they don’t even have a husband yet. For these gals, a simple text or brief word to encourage them would be nice. Stick with something about how she is a blessing now, rather than mentioning the hypothetical “some day”.
Many mothers with adult children will still receive recognition and thanks. But if you know of someone who has estranged children or has had to bury a child, be sure to reach out to her. Maybe you could give a gift specifically recognizing that relationship or honoring her child’s life. For instance, a spiritual mother of mine lost a son when he was 18. He often wore camouflage pants and black t-shirts. A small book or even a plant wrapped with camo paper would say everything that words could and more.
Also be on the look out, you may see more than a few women with a tear in their eye this weekend. Maybe they miss their own mother or maybe the hurt is caused by a child-sized hole. A simple look, gentle hand or a hug if she’s up for it may be just the thing. It can be a busy day, you might ask the Lord to help you slow down and notice anyone who might otherwise be overlooked.
Lastly, don’t forget about single mothers! Without a father in the house, her children may not know or have the ability to do much for her. You might ask them if they have anything planned and help them get a gift or special breakfast planned. Or if you know a single mom with young kids, offer to share your Mother’s Day with her. Have her over for lunch, pack a picnic or make a reservation ahead of time to include her and her crew in your celebrations.
Let everything you do be done in love.
As you read and consider these ideas, remember that everything you do should be done in love. By that, I mean if you are exhausted and anything outside of soldiers in your cup will only cause overwhelm, then mama - just drink the coffee and enjoy your day. Please don’t see this list as a bunch more boxes to check. Prayerfully consider if there’s a way for you to edify other ladies in the body. Allow the Spirit to guide your steps. Could you prepare ahead of schedule so that you can still enjoy your Sunday?
Out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth can speak love. And while God can use a heavy heart to speak love, if you need to focus on filling your cup at his feet right now, that’s exactly what you should do. If you fall into one of these categories yourself, you are seen and your grief is felt. I pray this Sunday, as with every day, we are able to draw near to the Lord in grateful praise for his many blessings!