A Mother’s Day for All Women

Last year, I wrote a version of this post and was surprised by the reception. It apparently struck a nerve. I needed to read it again personally this year, because I fail fairly regularly as a mother. A single friend also asked me to repost it. So here’s my ode to both women who are moms and women who aren’t but want to be.

Like any holiday, Mother’s Day is sweet for some and bitter for others. For some, it’s both. I remember feeling on the outside looking in on Mother’s Day, first as a single woman and then after I miscarried our first pregnancy. Our church had an entrance near the nursery called the Family Entrance. Could I use it? Were we a family? I finally just used it regardless, almost as an act of defiance. Now as the mother of two little boys, I can deeply appreciate someone setting aside parking near an entrance that kept me from having to walk my kids across a busy intersection. But at the time, I was dealing with emotions that weren’t swayed by practical realities. I just wanted to be a mom. And that sign at the church entrance reminded me I wasn’t.

It is an age-old conundrum in humanity in general and Christianity in particular. How do you honor someone who has something good that you want too? How do you applaud the sacrifices of one without minimizing the suffering of the other? I don’t know exactly, but I do think there is an over arching principle that is helpful. Motherhood is not the greatest good for the Christian woman.

Whether you are a mom or not, don’t get caught up in sentimentalism that sets it up as some saintly role. The greatest good is being conformed to the image of the Christ to the glory of God. Now, motherhood is certainly one of God’s primary tools in His arsenal for this purpose for women. But it is not the end itself. Being a mom doesn’t make you saintly. Believe me. Being a mom exposes all the ways you are a sinner, not a saint. Not being a mom and wanting to be one does too. We may long to get pregnant, looking at motherhood from afar. God sanctifies us through that longing. We may lose a pregnancy or a child, and mourn the loss of our motherhood. God conforms us to Christ through that as well. We may have a brood of children of various ages, and heaven knows God roots sin out of our hearts that way. It’s all about THE greatest good, being conformed to the image of Christ – reclaiming the image of God that He created us to bear through gospel grace.

Single woman watching your biological clock tick away, I encourage you to look today at your longings through the lens of the gospel. You don’t have to deny your longing or talk yourself into a happy attitude for all the good things you can do without kids. It’s ok to mourn the loss. God said children are a blessing. But after the fall, we do not all get to experience that blessing. The gospel makes up the difference. While you are disappointed in deep ways and that disappointment is real, you will one day sit with Jesus in heaven profoundly content with His work in you through this disappointment. In heaven, you will have no longing for something you missed. You will not be disappointed. May confidence in that hope sustain you.

Married woman experiencing infertility, I encourage you with similar words. People can be callous with their words, especially in the church. But believe in confidence that God in this very moment loves you with a deep love. You may feel estranged from Him, knowing that He has the power to give you that sweet infant that He has given so many around you. It seems like He is dangling a desire in front of you, teasing you with it. But understand that unfulfilled desire is a tool He uses to give you even better things – things of Himself that you cannot know in easy ways. Believe in confidence that this time of waiting is not just a holding pattern with no discernible value, but it too is a blessing, albeit in disguise, as it increases your strength to run and not grow weary and to walk and not to faint. Wait on the Lord, dear sister, in confidence.

And mom who fails her children regularly (because that’s most everyone else), preach the gospel to yourself this day. If you have any grasp on your reality, you are likely painfully aware of every failure you’ve made with your children. And maybe you are fatigued by the fears of future failure as well. It’s okay that your children expose your own sin to yourself. In fact, it’s the moms who don’t seem daily aware of their failures that most concern me. Christ has made the way for you to be at peace. If you sinned against your kids, ask their forgiveness. If you are kicking yourself for your failures, preach God’s grace to yourself. Don’t learn to live with your sin – don’t embrace it with the attitude “that’s just how I am.” But don’t deny it either. Be honest about it. You sinned. You confess. God forgives. You get up and walk forward in confidence. It’s called gospel grace, and THAT is the legacy to leave your children.

15 Responses to A Mother’s Day for All Women

  1. Donna May 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Thank you. Again.

  2. Elizabeth @ A Lady Engaged May 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I am choked up. This time of year I feel like people expect me to be over-sensitive and mournful. But I like your option better: confidence. I am not identified by being a married woman or a woman without children – I am a child of God and I rejoice in that. And nothing changes my desire to rise up and call my own mother blessed.

  3. Prasti May 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    “It’s all about THE greatest good, being conformed to the image of Christ – reclaiming the image of God that He created us to bear through gospel grace.” – yes!

    thank you for helping me keep things in perspective. it's easy for me to fall into the trap of finding my identity as a mother (or wife), when in actuality my identity is in Christ alone.

  4. Jennifer May 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Love what you write. The ability to put things to words from the deepest recesses of your heart is a gift and I am glad that you chosse to do it and, then, share it with all of us so we can benefit and learn…

    How I wish I could sit across from you with a cup of coffee and chat…we would get along fabulously!

    Blessings – Jennifer

  5. Wendy May 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    You're welcome, friend. 🙂

  6. Wendy May 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    Thank you for your comments and encouragement. 🙂

  7. Melissa May 12, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Thank you so much for this. My pastor preached last Mother's Day about how being a mother was the greatest good, and it made me feel like my childless state was less than noble. I really appreciate your perspective!

  8. Amanda May 12, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Anonymous May 13, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    And Mother's Day is also extremely hard on those women who SHOULD be “visibly” a mom, and are only in their hearts… those who lost a child (or several) through miscarriage, stillbirth – or maybe even after a while.

    Thankful for my two children here, and my *angel baby* in heaven.

  10. thegregs May 13, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    Thank you so much for these words of truth, and for reminding me to preach God's grace to myself in the midst of my sin and failure. Thank you for acknowledging the pain that this day can bring, but for not wallowing in it, instead pointing us to the greatest good of all–being remade in the image of Christ.

  11. Sarah May 13, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    Thanks for reposting this, I've often thought back to the part about there being no disappointment in heaven. That is my great hope in the midst of many disappointments now!

  12. Glenna Fowler May 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Thank you, Sharon, for once again touching my life in a very meaningful way. I'm passing this on to my daughter and some other women who are important in my life. God's blessings on you and John as you continue to serve Him in hard places. Love and miss you guys.

  13. Sarah Moore May 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I need to hear the Gospel frequently, when I find myself once again hopeless in self-condemnation or hardening in unrepentance. Somehow, that's almost always in my parenting or in my marriage. Makes sense, because that's primarily where I live my life. Frustrating, too. How I need God's grace!

    Thanks, too, for addressing single/childless women. I married relatively late among Myke peers. Those years were mostly fulfilling and happy, but church at times was the most painful, awkward place, especially on Mother's Day.

  14. Sarah Moore May 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    *my peers

  15. The Blog bites better than the Bullet. May 22, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Thanks for this- just read it again-I can totally identify- have been there as the single woman,the mother who miscarried, and the new mother who remembers it all…This article states so clearly what I believe and have learned through it all- and encourages me because I have a lot yet to learn. Motherhood sure does expose my heart. Encouraged though! Thanks.