We faced a long unexpected season of infertility and several miscarriages before our first child was born 3 ½ years ago. During this time one of my friends often repeated, “but you are a mum already”. It was very hard to hear; year after year and especially at Mother’s Day, my heart was still hurting and my arms were still empty, still waiting. I had to stop myself from saying, ‘No, I’m not. Look, no baby yet. I’m not a mother.’ Instead, I would simply nod, hold back my tears and dismiss her words.
Eventually I realised what she was trying to tell me; that I didn’t need to wait for children to arrive to qualify me as ‘a mother’. I already carried in me, since the day I was created, before I had children, before I was married, the capacity to reflect the maternal heart of God. I could be an ambassador of the mother heart of God to the world around me, with or without children.
“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”
— Genesis 1:26
Motherhood is a stance of heart, an attitude. It’s a capacity that ALL women carry. All women are made in the image of God and we all carry aspects of His maternal heart towards His creation. It’s not a role reserved solely for women who have given birth to children, care for children or who have adopted children into their families. It is a role for all womenkind independent of whether they have children or not.
God created humankind in His own image; male and female. This means that men reflect some parts of God’s character and women reflect other parts. When women forget or deny their maternal side, society has a lopsided view of God. Motherhood matters and you are part of God’s plan to show his heart to the world in which he has placed you. Let’s have a look at two places in the Bible where God is described using maternal images.
1- Security & Tenderness
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
— Luke 13:34
We see God’s tender and protective nature towards his children, his desire to keep us safe.
Little Monkey’s One Safe Place is a story about a little monkey who goes looking for his one safe place and after adventuring through the forest and encountering a snake, a snappy crocodile and a growly bear, he runs home to his mum who gives him big cuddle. Little Monkey says he didn’t find his one safe place and his mum replies ‘your one safe place is here, in my arms’.
Our ultimate safe place is not in the comfort of possessions or a big apartment, nor in the seat of an expensive car, a big pay check or the compliments of our friends, but in the arms or under the wings of God. God’s opinion of you never changes, he thinks the world of you. He loves you unconditionally and will fight all your battles. He will never abandon you.
Let’s be honest, this season of lockdown has been uncomfortable. It has shaken life as we know it. It has changed our routines. It has affected our day-to-day liberties. Are you willing to let Him be your safe place?
As a woman, single, married, with children, grandchildren, no children, step children, you can be a safe place for your friends, family or work colleagues. Gossip stops with you; rumours stop with you; judgement doesn’t cross your lips; there is a consistency in your relationships. You can be a ‘safe consistent person’ to others just as God wants to be our safe and consistent place and to gather us tenderly under his wings.
I am trying to build that safe consistent place for our children (we have two sons now), where they can tell the truth without fear (that really means confessing to their naughty actions!), where they can ask all sorts of questions, share their feelings, their fears, be affirmed, find grace, feel loved. Even those menial household tasks of cooking, washing, and laundry are building layers of security and safety in homes. Those routines are one way of communicating care, presence and safety to the children in our homes.
Along the way, I hope that I am also becoming a ‘safe friend’, a ‘safe colleague’, a ‘safe sister’.
The ultimate goal is to show Jesus to people; the ultimate friend they’ll ever have.
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
— Isaiah 66:12-13
When you hurt yourself as a child, who did you run to; Dad? Mum? We all ran to mum, if she was there, because there is something special about a mother’s comfort. It’s special because it’s one of the attributes of God and God chose mothers to be the vehicle to show us how much he longs to comfort us. During this period of lockdown perhaps you personally have needed comforting. Let me encourage you to turn to the ultimate comforter of our souls, Jesus. He longs to hold you, comfort you and pour his loving kindness over you.
Confinement has been difficult for everybody, regardless of age. If you have children at home, perhaps in some circumstances they have needed your comfort more than your quick, frustrated response. Children have less capacity to communicate their emotions and confinement has been hard on them too. Instead of responding out of frustration to your children or grandchildren (or even spouse!), ask the Holy Spirit to help you to offer some comfort to your needy one.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
— Proverbs 15:1
Perhaps your friend or a member of your family has suffered grief of some sort lately. Your safe friendship could provide a taste of heavenly comfort to a saddened soul.
So, whether you have your arms full of children or not, whether you are married or not, whether you long to be a mother or not, or if you have grown children or even grandchildren, I invite you this Mother’s Day to firstly let God ‘mother’ you with his comfort, tenderness and security and then to extend your heart to those around you and ‘mother’ your world. Society needs mothers more than ever before. Mothers matter. Motherhood matters. You matter. And who knows, maybe someone will see God’s heart in a new way through you and come to know and experience him at a deeper level.