“Speaking of Mothers…” — by Pastor Pam Sutherland

This Sunday, May 14, is the day we celebrate Mother’s Day. Many churches will go all out to celebrate mothers by handing out flowers, or recognizing the oldest or youngest mother in the congregation. Some even award a “Mother of the Year” with a plaque and gifts, and a recounting of all her great attributes. Well-meaning pastors will extol the virtues of mothers by preaching about Mary, the mother of Jesus, or the Proverbs 31 woman. Often it seems as if worship of God has been hijacked by a commercialized, secular holiday. Don’t get me wrong, mothers are important. We all had one. Some of us are one.  

But what about all the women for whom Mother’s Day is a source of discomfort or even pain? Where is the compassion for the childless, the infertile, the bereaved mother, the grieving daughter? Where do those of us who do not measure up fit in?

Some years ago, Amy Young, a middle aged “non-mom” posted an Open Letter To Pastors about Mother’s Day, describing her own experience with Mother’s Day celebrations at church, asking them to recognize that not everyone in the congregation is celebrating, and to acknowledge the “wide continuum of mothering”. Following is an excerpt from her letter, the link to the original letter can be found below.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains –

we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Many people skip church on Mother’s Day because of the hurt it causes. Let’s remember to show compassion to those who may not be celebrating this holiday. Church should be a safe place of healing for all. As one empathetic commentor on Ms. Young’s Facebook post said: Let’s celebrate Jesus at church and moms over lunch.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Pam

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