Mother's Day, like Father's Day, Valentine's Day and birth announcements, always causes me to take a sharp intake of breath. These occasions have the unique ability to simultaneously bring joy and pain to so many.
When I had my son, I gave up work to look after him and when he was little, I would meet each week with a friend. I knew my friend and her husband were struggling to conceive and that it was a tough season for them, and every time we met, I was desperately aware of my baby lying in the middle of the floor each week. In my ‘ideal’ world I would have preferred it if my husband or someone else was looking after him so that we could have met up without the elephant in the room.
However, as the days, weeks, months went past and my baby grew, so did their relationship. When she arrived at the door, he would throw his arms up to demand a cuddle or carry over a book for her to read. One day she came into my living room and said, "every time I see Finn, I am a healed a little bit more through the joy God has given him."
I know this won’t be the same experience for everyone. I know that some people wouldn't have been able to cope with spending time with a baby every week. But what it taught me is that God doesn’t look for perfection in us, he looks for love, and in that love, to just be us. Us with the pain, the tears, the joy, the laughter, the ugly, the beautiful and all the rest in between. In his wisdom and mercy, God used an opportunity to bring healing because he knows my friend intimately. He knew what she could and couldn't manage and for her, spending time with Finn was what she needed. He also knew me intimately enough to know that I needed some healing too. That in my desperation to try and be empathetic with those I love who are struggling to conceive, I had become apologetic for my son’s presence.
Being just 'us', in the current season of our lives, isn't about ignoring other people's pain, or even our own. It's about trusting that our Father God loves us, and those that we love, more than we ever could. We can't control or fix every terrible thing that happens or take on the guilt that can sometimes be associated with it. But we can love generously, and we can dig deep to understand more about what generous love looks like.
In our earthly understanding, it may be messaging a friend that has lost a loved one, sending flowers to someone going through IVF, sponsoring someone running for charity in memory of a beloved child or donating monthly to an organisation supporting orphaned or bereaved children. It may be praying and weeping with a friend over sad news, texting a spiritual mother to let them know you love them, praying faithfully for your Godchildren or offering to babysit for a fellow Mum so she can have a rest. In the heavenly creation of generous love, it’s showing up to God just as we are. Giving ourselves with all the broken bits and all the fixed bits too. And seeing what God does with it.
So whatever feelings Mother’s Day brings up for you, I want to encourage you to be you, whatever that might look like right now. To practice being vulnerable and real and honest, giving space for God to work in that. To ask God how you can use your earthly resources to love generously today. Above all, I pray that you may know a little of God’s generous love for you.
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5