I am blessed. I’m married to a wonderful mother. I was raised by a fantastic mother. And, as if that wasn’t enough, God even blessed me with a super mother in-law! Each May, I look forward to telling those ladies how much I love them and I truly hope they know just how much they mean to me.
However, that simply isn’t the case for everyone. Mother’s Day can be a dreaded reminder of pain that is all too real. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer on mom’s special day. (Cue the sad trombone.) No. I want to remind us all to pay special attention to the people in our church family and neighborhoods for whom Mother’s Day is anything but happy.
This Sunday, while proud moms and grandmas worship with their children and grandchildren, enjoy gifts and cards, and soak up all the attention they so rightly deserve, we’ll worship beside others for whom the day is quite difficult:
· The middle-aged woman whose arms remain empty because of a struggle with infertility.
· The grieving couple experiencing their first Mother’s Day since the loss of a mother or child.
· The young single woman who believes she may never be married and start a family.
· The man who can only dream of reconciliation with an aging, abusive, aloof, or absent mother.
· The exhausted single mom with nagging guilt from the sense she can’t meet her kids’ needs alone.
· The young mother in anguish because her ill newborn is spending her first Mother’s Day hospitalized.
If you’re like me, your Mother’s Day is going to be a wonderful, warm celebration. Enjoy the day. Be sure mom knows you love her! But, throughout the day—especially at church—keep your eyes open and be sensitive to what others are experiencing.
Here are a few things you can do.
Celebrate Mother’s Day. But, be sensitive. Solomon said it this way: “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20). Take care not to thoughtlessly sing your songs to heavy hearts. Muster all the emotional intelligence you can and be careful.
Remaining sensitive might earn opportunities for meaningful interactions in which you can be the hands and feet of Christ.
WATCH AND LISTEN
It’s amazing what you see when your eyes are open and what you hear when you truly listen. This Sunday, take a few extra minutes to scan the environment for anyone who looks isolated, burdened, or alone. Go out of your way to introduce yourself. Ask how they are doing and then listen closely for cues for what is really going on in their heart.
An interaction in which you can convey a warm smile, lend a listening ear, or offer a kind hug or handshake could be what God wants to use to convey His warmth, compassion, and kindness to someone whose heart is heavy. Allow God to use you.
Finally, could God be nudging you to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ for whom you know this Mother’s Day will be difficult? Might He be prompting you to go the extra mile by showing hospitality, welcoming them into your home and your celebration? Consider inviting this person to join you for lunch or to come to your house for dessert. Purchase a bouquet of carnations and make a delivery. Buy some chocolate candy and a card and knock on their front door. Take a step and watch God work.
I believe your celebration of Mother’s Day will be even more meaningful if you think not only about what you intend to enjoy yourself but if you consider how to be the hands and feet of Christ to someone else.
A WORD FOR THE HURTING
Finally, if you can identify as one of the people I described above—someone for whom Mother’s Day isn’t happy—here’s a word from the Lord:
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)
If your heart is weighed down by the grief of a broken relationship, take heart. God is near. Reach out to Him and He will carry you through. Don’t seclude yourself. Remain open to the love, concern, and care of your family and your brothers and sisters in Christ. If possible, prayerfully consider reaching out across the physical or emotional miles to your estranged mother or child. God is in the business of reconciliation and you never know what He might be planning. Or, if you happen to be in a difficult situation you simply cannot change, cling to God. He will be enough—more than enough—to see you through.
Even if Mother’s Day isn’t a happy day for you, it’s my prayer that God will shine on you, showing you His mercy and grace in a special way.