I wanted to write a blog a few years ago with the title “Why I want Mothers Day to Die Die Die” but I thought better of it and my husband agreed. It’s probably too sensitive a topic for most of us on every part of the spectrum. As with many – if not all – social issues, the complexities far outweigh most proposed solutions. And all of us are somewhere stuck, either feeling like no one understands us, or that “we are damned if we do/don’t” thing where we’d rather just keep our mouths shut and hide. Or the thousand places in between the extremes.
I wasn’t always a mother. I wasn’t a mother until I turned 40. I spent a lot of years wondering if I’d ever be a mother. I spent a lot of years wondering if I’d ever find a man that I’d want to become a mother with. The preposition quite like the question itself… dangling. (You’re welcome, Grammar Nerds.)
Here are some things I’ve learned over the years before entering the mother zone that were helpful to me, and continue to be helpful to my soul.
- You are NOT identified by demographics.
Demographics are for marketing and selling stuff. Checking off boxes on surveys, age groups, marital statuses, kids’ interests, does not make you more or less qualified for life. Some products may not interest you, but that doesn’t assign you a status or tell you who you really are.
Sometimes we hide in our demographic though. We can only describe ourselves in terms of the boxes we check off and we miss the myriad of ways to see the sameness we share with people who have the complete opposite boxes checked. Don’t hide. Don’t be a box.
- You ARE identified by your faith.
Do you trust a God who says He gives all you need for today? Knowing and trusting a God who promises to provide for you is so hard in the times of emptiness and longing. But it’s truly in these times that our faith is proven. Not the amount of faith, but its object. It’s when we come to, and stay, at the feet of Jesus with nothing in our hands but a mustard seed of faith, that we begin to know the provisions of a good and gracious God. “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” It’s easier to believe in a good God when you look around and see so many good gifts. When the gifts aren’t there or aren’t so good, it gets more challenging to believe and hope. But God’s goodness isn’t affected by your faith, but you are. Placing your hope in people or things will continue to disappoint and drag you down, but “none who wait for [God] shall be put to shame.”
- You are valuable.
Every voice is one worth listening to. Every voice. Your experiences may be different from mine, but they make you no less valuable than me, and vice versa. We each carry Imago Dei, the very essence of God Creator, and as a person you are beautiful and full of grace. Whether you see that or not creates the world you walk in. You are a pearl of great price and there is One who paid everything to make you His. Live as one who has value.
Having value is not the same as being entitled, though. We live in a world that says you’re worth it and so go ahead and be spoiled and think you deserve every happiness, regardless of what anyone else has or says. My value comes directly from the work of Jesus on the cross, and what He was willing to pay for me. My life, then, is a working out of that salvation, showing grace and giving freely to others, not taking and not hurting, as much as I am able. Our value is evidenced by our capacity to love and serve. Our value is exponentially increased when we see the value in others and honor it.
- You are not enough.
I’ve seen lists like the one I’m writing in the blogosphere. People trying to convince us that we are good as is, that wherever you are right now is great and you should love yourself, forgive yourself, and do whatever makes you happy. It’s flawed thinking, at best, and downright damning at worst. I believe that, left to my own devices, I am selfish and shameful. I make terrible choices with terrible consequences. I’ve been there, done that. I’m working even now on consequences of my own sinfulness and wrong headedness. I have chosen myself over others and I continue to daily see myself clearly and what I could be when I give in to my ego-centric tendencies. When faced with myself and all my insecurities, I realize that I can never be everything I want to be. I simply cannot. I cannot “have it all.” No one can. We keep telling ourselves that, we will end up even further on a path of ultimate destruction of community and all that is beautiful. We must get to the root of our hearts, and see them for what they are before it’s too late.
- You do get to have enough.
You don’t experience the “enough-ness” of Jesus until you have experienced the emptiness of this life. You just can’t. It’s like someone who has taken a shower for the first time – it’s glorious, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you remember it? You get a taste of it after, say, camping for a week and being dirty and sweaty and then stepping into a shower. And like an hour later feeling like a new person. But what about someone who has never even seen a shower and bathes in a dirty river? We have dirty river experiences in our lives that force us to recognize our need, our poverty, our emptiness. Whether it’s tragedy, losing a loved one, not being able to have children, not finding a spouse, or the sins of another against you, adultery, theft, slander, the experiences you have had in life, point us to the futility and pain of it all. Our dirty rivers are not enough to clean us, to clean our disasters, to clean our choices, to clean our consequences.Thanks be to God, there is One who is enough. More than enough. In Jesus, we have all that we need and want, even though we may not even be able to express or acknowledge what that is. If Jesus isn’t enough for you, then you have not yet truly seen the emptiness and darkness of your heart. I pray it will not destroy you. I pray that you will not cling to your own efforts to clean, that you will believe in the saving grace of Jesus instead.
Wherever you are on the demographics chart, whatever our culture is trying to market to you, we can all see the deep need we have for unconditional love and grace. We are reminded of our need to be appreciated and cared for on days like Mothers Day and we are equally reminded of just how bad many are at expressing gratitude and care. We need more and more grace. We need more and more wisdom to support and comfort each other. We need more and more love to cast out fears. We need more and more Jesus. Oh, I need you, every hour!