I’ve said it many times before, that expectations may be listed right up there with money as the “root of all evil”. Expectations, like those we have on “special days” set aside to honor us…birthdays, Mother’s Day…or holidays that really weren’t ever meant to honor us, but we’ve somehow claimed with our expectations…like Christmas and Easter…set us up for disappointment, regret, and feelings of unworthiness and lackluster. No good comes from it. Expectations can rob the joy from any woman, on any day, but there is an extra measure of struggle for bereaved mothers and for those battling infertility. An added sting to a wound already so deep and oozing with hurt.
Surely, I think mothers should be honored, and motherhood is a sacred gift. I’m grateful that I can be called mother by the boys I have with me on this earth, and grateful that I am called the mother of Faith, Grace, and Thomas in heaven. The interesting thing about Mother’s Day, is that while we are busy holding up our standard for what it means to be a mother, and to be adequately honored on our day, while comparing ourselves to one another and feeling all levels of discouragement and brokenness, the actual birth of Mother’s Day was a selfless one from an unmarried woman named Anna Jarvis, never able to bear her own children, and had just recently lost her mother (who herself was a bereaved parent). And, yet, she chose to honor those who are called Mother.
Inspirational. To the point where it almost makes me feel less rebellious of the day. Since my mother died, I’ve not been the biggest fan of celebrating. My heart swells with aching to be honest. Aching for what isn’t. But, Anna’s example, pierces my weary, battered heart with conviction. I know the desperate ache that drives a mother who lost her baby to feel agony, like salt in the wound when considering Mother’s Day, or when watching another woman enjoy what she is so longing for and unable to have. But, Anna, in her ache and in her need, honored the women who had what she longed for so desperately. I wonder if we could love one another with that kind of sacrificial love, as women. Our Lord certainly knows, we could use a bit of that. My heart, while often warmed by the beauty of many women in my life, has also felt the chilly sting of the measuring stick held up by some, the envy, comparing, criticizing, sizing up, tearing down, that women can do. Oh, the ugly of that. Most recently, the sting has cut me to the core.
What if we loved and honored others like Anna, and even more so, like Jesus? Laying down our lives…our needs, wants, desires, to honor and love someone else. What if we did that?
And, if you’re still feeling rebellious about Mother’s Day…because I’ll admit I am, perhaps instead of allowing a day to steal every ounce of our fierceness, our beauty, our joy, we could choose instead to soak it in and embrace the day. It doesn’t even have to be about being a mother.
1. If you feel like running away, do it. Maybe plan a day trip with your husband and kids…or just your kids if you’re a single mama, or just your husband, if it’s just the two of you…or a friend if you are a single lady missing your mother or your baby. See a movie, have a picnic, eat at your favorite restaurant, go to the zoo. Get the Pete out…of anywhere that makes you feel like wallowing.
2. If you want to take a big long nap and say forget it. Go ahead.
3. Take some time to relax. Soak in a bath (with lavender essential oils if you want to really treat yourself!) Start reading that book you’ve been meaning to dig into. Sit on the back patio and sip lemonade.
4. Read a promise from scripture, one that reminds you that you are a dearly loved treasure. Just as you are. I like this one:
“I passed by you again and saw you were old enough to love and to be loved, so I offered Myself to you in marriage. I wrapped my garment over you to cover your nakedness. Then I gave you My divine promise to always be your Beloved, and I entered the sacred covenant of marriage with you. I wed you, and you became Mine. I bathed you with pure water and washed away the old blood from your skin, and then I anointed you with fragrant oils. I dressed you in an embroidered gown and put the finest leather sandals on your feet. I gave you the most luxurious linens and exquisite garments. I decorated you with the most expensive jewelry: bracelets for your wrists and a necklace for your neck, a nose ring, costly earrings, and a stunning crown for your head. I adorned you with everything a woman could wish for: gold and silver, the finest clothes of linen, silk, and embroidery. You dined on elegant meals made with fine flour, honey, and olive oil. You became a beautiful woman and carried yourself as a queen! You became famous among the nations for your extraordinary beauty—beauty that flourished only because I lavished My splendor on you.”
So said the eternal Lord.
~Ezekiel 16:8-14 The Voice
5. Pray a little. And, if you’re so broken and done you can’t muster words to pray, just sit with Jesus awhile. Just as you are.
6. Watch the sunrise, or sunset, or both.
7. Reflect on the gifts you’ve been given (And, I’m not just talking about the scrawled crayon signature on your Mother’s Day card, although that’s certainly allowed to make the list)…just anything that is a blessing in your life. I know it sounds cliché, but “counting our blessings” is a powerful weapon in completely changing our perspectives from weariness to hope. Gratefulness beats bitterness every time.
8. Eat something yummy.
9. Allow the luxury of a deep belly giggle if you can conjure one to the surface.
10. Thoroughly, unabashedly enjoy your people…your tribe. Whoever they may be.
11. Wear something pretty and put on lipstick. Or lay around in your favorite holey pair of yoga pants. Just be you.
12. Dance it out. Sing it out. Write it out. Paint it out. Play it out. Run it out. Do what you do.
13. Climb on the back of a motor cycle and feel the wind blowing your hair wild and free.
14. Reach out to someone else who is feeling down, or alone, or full of the missing. There is always a filling up in the pouring out. It’s just God’s Math.
Just know, dear mama-hearted friend, that you are covered in love and grace. This day and everyday. You never walk alone.