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Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and it’s got me thinking a collection of random thoughts – which is really no different from normal. Here’s a sampling:
This Sunday I sang a song in church that I wrote for Jess after our first child was born on Mother’s Day in 2010. (You can download it for free on our home page if you’re interested in taking a listen.) It’s an emotional song, but the first time I played it for her three years ago I managed to be my typically stoic self and make it through without crying.
However, yesterday as I sang the song during our first service I was holding back tears. I realized that over the last three years the gratitude that I have for her as a mom has increased tremendously. My heart was so full yesterday of love for her and our two boys. In those first few weeks after our son was born I had only a taste of that love, but over these three years my heart just seems to grow and grow with love for my family and a deep appreciation for the mother of my kids.
I think this is part of the way that God hard-wired the human heart: the more we love, the more our capacity to love increases. In our song “Empty” from the album Dave & Jess Ray, I said it this way, “Love is still the currency of heaven // And you get more when you give it all away.” On this Mother’s Day, I’m grateful to be living proof of the truth of those words!
Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice, Mourn With Those Who Mourn
On every Mother’s Day there are some who rejoice and some who mourn. Mothers and grandmothers of all shapes and sizes rejoice. But those who have lost moms or children, or who have suffered miscarriages and infertility mourn even as the rest of us celebrate. Because of this I have seen to varying degrees over the past few years an appeal to the church to “cool it” with the celebration of moms on Mother’s Day out of sensitivity to those who mourn.
I think this is a misguided request motivated by a genuine sense of empathy and mercy, and I hope that this is a compassionate response: we don’t gain anything by not celebrating moms. No woman feeling the pain of infertility feels better about herself. No mother who has lost a child in death has the missing piece in her heart made whole again. But we do lose something. We lose an opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation for a group of people who give selflessly and sacrificially for the sake of our families. Mother’s Day is not about ascribing worth to women; Christ has already done that more perfectly that we ever could through his death on the cross. Mother’s Day is about encouraging them and intentionally expressing our gratitude.
I think the biblical principle here is expressed in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” The instruction is double-sided. We should not be so caught up in our own “rejoicing” that we fail to extend a hand of compassion, empathy, and genuine love to those who are mourning. Nor should we be so consumed by mourning that we cannot bring ourselves to rejoice at the blessings God has given to others. Both are forms of self-centeredness.
Instead we are called to both rejoice and mourn, and I hope that as churches we are able to communicate this clearly. This Mother’s Day we celebrate the moms in our lives who have given so much to us and our children. And we mourn with those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death, miscarriage and infertility. And we proclaim the truth of the Gospel to all women, that your precious value is found not in your children (or your spouse, or your job, or your home…) but in the surpassing love displayed by Christ’s death for you on the cross.
Five More Minutes
Listening to the radio this morning I heard on a sports talk station (of all places!) these words:
“My mom is no longer with us,” said the host, “And I’d give everything I have just to spend five more minutes with her.”
What a powerful reminder that the measure of our lives is not the stuff we acquire but the relationships we invest in. In the end, none of the stuff can buy us any more time. This Mother’s Day I’m reminded and convicted that our minutes are numbered. Let’s spend them investing in the people who matter most!
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