Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Or is it?

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. And it’s a great day to celebrate your mother or your motherhood.
But, what about someone who didn’t have a great relationship with their mom? Is that you?
Or, maybe you are a mom and there’s been hurt or tragedy? Maybe your child was born with a disease or a handicap. Maybe he or she is in prison. Or, perhaps your child has died.
Or, maybe you’ve always wanted to be a mom and you’ve not been able to conceive and Mother’s Day rolls around and it just plain hurts to think about what you wish would have been.
We were talking about this on radio the other day, and the emails and blog postings affirmed that we struck a chord with many of you.
So, I was thinking about these things after radio and one specific call comes to mind where a mother’s daughter was involved in a religious group that was a little toxic, and the daughter and son-in-law decided some years ago that mom was outside their belief system and a threat to them in some way; so she was no longer welcome in their family.
It’s so sad. This mom misses out. She doesn’t have a relationship with her daughter any more. She doesn’t get to see the grandkids any more. She hurts a lot. She’s working through bitterness and resentment, and I’m sure it’s multiplied on Mother’s Day.
So I took a little time to think about what models of motherhood there were in the Bible. And I learned that if you’re challenged with being a mom or with your mom, you’re in good company. Not that it makes it right or necessarily makes you feel that much better, but I hope it’s an encouragement to you that God will use your situation, whether you’re happy or sad this Mother’s Day, and extend his grace and work through your life in ways you would never have imagined.
Consider this:
Eve had two kids. One murdered the other.
Sarah longed for a child and was very old before that came to pass.
Rebekah favored one son over the other and helped her favorite deceive his father in order to receive the blessing that was due his brother
Moses’ mother raised him for the first three months of his life then gave him up, putting him in a basket and floating him down the river.
Rachel died in childbirth
Hannah’s womb was closed for years and her rival provoked her because she had children and Hannah had none. She was later blessed to bear a son, Samuel, but for years she grieved not being a mother.
Tamar was a mother to twins, and the children’s father was her own father-in-law.
Mary saw her son do many great things and teach with passion and great wisdom, then witnessed his horrific crucifixion.
I know there are other stories and examples I could have listed, but these came to mind as I thought about a few.
And it was eye opening to me.
Don’t get me wrong. Mother’s Day is a wonderful thing. God’s word, after all, tells us to honor your father and your mother.
So it’s right in line with Scripture to have a holiday to celebrate our moms.
But we also live in a world where there’s a lot of hurt and pain and sorrow, and often it’s magnified around Mother’s Day because there’s something about your mom, or your experience being a mom, that makes things a little less than perfect.
And if that’s you, I want you to stop and consider some of the hardships of the moms who went before you . . . maybe your mom, or your grandmother have some incredible stories of trouble and sorrow. Maybe the cycle hasn’t been broken and this is your time to break it.
Maybe you’ve hurt like Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Moses’ mom, Rachel, Hannah Tamar or Mary.
What do you do with that hurt?
Have you grieved your loss? Have you accepted and surrendered your loss . . . that you’re mom wasn’t the mom you thought you should have . . . that you weren’t able to be a mom . . . that your child left, or your child died and you have no hope of ever seeing him or her again.
It’s time to do so.
Talk to someone about your hurt.
Connect with a sibling. A friend. A pastor. A spouse. A counselor. Someone you can trust.
Share your hurt and let them know you’ve decided to grieve and surrender your pain and sorrow.
It’s time to see how God will use you. To see how you can minister to others who are stuck in the midst of the hurt you’ve been stuck in.
If you live in a world that’s a little closer to what Beaver Cleaver grew up in, go celebrate with your mom and soak in the blessing you’ve been given. I am so happy for you. If you’re in this spot, would you pray with me for all those folks who are hurting a little more than usual this Mother’s Day?
Let’s pray for moms, right now:
Dear Lord, I pause this moment and pray for all the men and women who read this. Some have great moms—with great memories of growing up and being nurtured and encouraged and loved every step of the way. And we ask you for a special blessing of thanksgiving for those mothers and for those men and women who are so fortunate.
And, Lord, I also want to ask your special blessing today, and especially this Sunday, Mother’s Day, for those for whom Mother’s Day evokes painful thoughts and memories. There are many reasons why this might be the case. And we just turn to you right now for comfort. For the strength of those who are reading this who need to take a step to grieve the loss they’ve never fully grieved. We pray that they might get unstuck. They’ve been living in sorrow, in hurt, in pain for many years in some cases; and right now they realize it’s time to forgive. It’s time to let the bitterness go. It’s time to surrender the resentment. It’s time to accept that you, God, will use them right where they are. Let them see that their painful experiences give them great qualification to minister to others who are stuck in their own pain.
Help me, God, to get outside myself. Help me to remember that living this life isn’t about me. It’s about you, God. And I will take steps to get beyond feeling sorry for myself, even though I have good reason to feel sorry. But I want people to see a gracious, loving God who can take my hurt and turn it into a ministry that gives him all glory and honor.
That’s my prayer, Lord, this Mother’s Day.
And on a personal note, Lord, thank you for my mother. She’s loved me and my brothers through some incredibly tough times. She’s lived and experienced things I hope I never have to experience, and she’s come out of it a stronger, more grace-filled woman than she was before. And I thank you for that.
And, I thank you and praise you for my wife Misty, who is the most incredible Mom to her two boys and to Solomon, and any day now to Amelia Pearl, who’s ready to come from your hands into ours. We are so eager and excited for that miracle of birth to happen.
God, thank you for your grace. Thank you for motherhood and all that goes into it that we dads and sons will never quite understand, and take so for granted.
I pray this all in Jesus’ name.
Happy Mothers Day!
See you on the radio,

Stephen Arterburn

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