Mother’s Day is always a Sunday of mixed emotions for me. While I definitely desire to honor the moms who are present in worship on Mother’s Day, I also am aware of the pain this day brings for so many people.  Some people have lost their moms and live with the ache of facing the future without them. Others have estranged relationships with their children or their mom, and this day feels like salt in that wound. Some have lived through the loss of a child, and others experience unmet longings for a family.

This Sunday will be my first Mother’s day with my own child. Last year at this time, I thought that women became mothers when they went to the hospital and gave birth or welcomed a child into their home through adoption–similar to how you go to Starbucks un-caffeinated, and come out caffeinated. But now, having a 9 month old of my own, I recognize that the act of mothering is so much more than giving birth, adopting, or living with a child. When I reflect over my life, I’ve been mothered by a whole tribe of people– some of them with children, some without.  Scripture sometimes describes God in mothering language, using imagery that is nurturing and fiercely protective (Isa. 46: 3-4, Job 38: 29, Hos. 11:3-4, Ps. 22:9).

I am grateful for my biological mother and the countless ways she has shaped my life. She taught me how to throw a really good dinner party, how to respect my husband even in the heat of conflict, and most recently: how to settle down a fussy baby. For her endless gifts to me, I thank God for my mom. I also thank God for Colleen – a single woman who invested thousands of hours in me when I was a teenager; and our entire elder board, which nurtures and fiercely protects our church family today.  These are acts of mothering, and these are a reflection of the heart of God.

This year, I honor biological and adoptive moms, as well as all those who through their nurture and love make this world a more beautiful place.