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Sunday, May 8, 2016

On Mother's Day

There is a wide range of emotions that go along with today. I know you feel it. I feel it too.
Maybe you know the ache of longing and waiting for a child that has not yet come. Maybe you feel the gut punch of the grief of pregnancy, infant, or child loss. Maybe your heart feels heavy longing for a mother that has passed. Maybe you grieve a relationship that is broken, or critical, or cold and distant. Maybe the task of motherhood has just made your heart weary and tired and… defeated.
There are also reasons you are celebrating today, aren’t there? The promise of a little one growing inside of you. A sweet warm little one in your arms. Chubby dimpled hands that pat your bum (because how else is your toddler going to get your attention?!). Seeing your sisters CRUSH IT as moms. Sharing moments of understanding, respect, and gratitude with your mom, or your ‘like a mom’. Celebrating amazing women who poured into your life and pour into your children’s life.
It’s all so complicated though, isn’t it? How do we even process it all? How do we approach this day, at all?
I’ve walked some of these roads in my journey—the lovely ones and the hard ones. Some of them so recently, I found myself approaching today with mixed emotions and… dread. I mean, love and joy and all that, but also DREAD. Because this day of celebrating mothers and women has so many things tied into it, doesn’t it?
Over the past year I have experienced some significant losses. How difficult it is to celebrate the children in your arms when you long for the ones in heaven! How humbling it is accepting the shower of love and ‘best mom ever’ cards from my sweet boys when I know what an imperfect, fumbling mom I truly am. How heavy my heart feels when I want more for strained and difficult relationships. How grieved I feel to want to revel in the good and lovely and joyous things today… but tears flow from hurt and loss and longing and weariness instead.
It’s so very, very complicated. It’s a paradox; that joy and grief can and exist simultaneously.  And they do so often in this beautiful and complicated task of motherhood.
I was thinking about this in the wee hours this morning dreading the fast approaching Mother’s Day… and I suddenly had a picture of a gentle shepherd. And I thought of the verse in Isaiah (40:11) where Christ is described as a shepherd.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
I love that the mother is specifically mentioned here. And that she is treated with care and gentleness. Gentleness seems like such a novelty to me—it doesn’t seem like a quality that is valued in our culture, does it? But it is so striking and so appealing to me in this context, on this day. On Mother’s Day that is so many things I am only feeling dread over how I will get through it, this Shepherd is offering gentleness.
He gently leads us through weariness and longing to grace and peace.  He gently leads us through grief and loss to joy and fulfilment. He gently leads mothers through the days we just close our eyes and try to get through, to the days where we live in the confidence and radiance of his love. He gently leads us from hurt and loneliness into his arms, into perfect relationship with Him. Our Father who created us with the capacity to experience all of these emotions that make Mother’s Day—and every day—so complicated, understands each of them (yes even the ugly ones) and cares for them—cares for US with gentleness and love.
I urge you today, dear friends, lean into that. How do we approach this day that is multi-faceted with complex emotions and experiences good and bad? We give ourselves over to the Gentle Shepherd and let him lead us through it. On Mother’s Day I wish you joy and love and blessings and sparkly things and chubby dimpled hands patting your bum and laughter and rest for your weary souls and hope. And I pray you experience the love, care, and gentle leading of your Heavenly Father to navigate all emotions and all parts of the day. <3 br="">

(Also here's a song that is filling my heart with truth today.)