Letting Go on Mother’s Day

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Do you have big plans for Mother’s Day weekend?

She looked hopeful for me. I remember being at her stage. A tiny baby, a toddler, full days and often sleepless nights. The way a holiday, like Mother’s Day, seemed so important in validating the hard work and making me feel appreciated.

Not really, I told her. We will probably grill out with my in law’s…..

I could see she wanted more for me, perhaps assuming my low key plans would feel disappointing. So she smiled and added encouragingly, “Well that’s good. You won’t have to cook!” 

I wish in that moment I could have given her the beautiful truths the Lord has given me in 20 years of mothering, but our conversation was brief and our paths parted. I spent so many of my younger years in colossal let down (sometimes melt down) on Mother’s Day. Expectations of feeling honored, valued or appreciated discarded as the day rolled on and my job as mom took a short breather for a crowded lunch at Red Lobster after church, only to resume by mid-afternoon. Much to my dismay.

The Hallmark build up never quite lived up to the picture in my heart. The children didn’t seem overly interested in making me feel special all day long. The husband hadn’t prepared far enough ahead for me to really feel important. The work of motherhood never stopped long enough to get the relaxation  commercials insinuated should be mine on this day.

If you relate to my experience can I invite you to try something new? Stop. Take a deep breath in. Notice all the thoughts about yourself. Then exhale. And let them go. Because here’s the thing….

Motherhood is about glorifying God, not Mothers. Being a mom is wonderful and hard and fulfilling and beautiful. But ultimately it’s not about me. As I nurture and protect and teach and love my children I am painting a picture of the God who does all those things more perfectly and sacrificially than I ever will.

Motherhood is meant to expose my need for God, not my family’s lack of gratitude. The fact is, often our children do not appreciate all we do. Our husband’s will never quite know how it feels to be in our shoes. Being a mom is crazy hard at times, and I often feel weak and utterly dependent on God to help me. That’s why we need a Savior who sees us, loves us, knows and provides for us. As He exposes our need, He meets our need and our faith is built.

Motherhood will never call more from us than Christ has already done for us. We can only go so far in sacrifice without our sin or weakness being exposed. But Christ perfectly lived out self sacrifice for his children and never played a metaphorical “martyr card” but in fact, actually died for us. I will never succeed in fully getting rid of being self absorbed and motherhood exposes that fact. But Jesus lived perfectly others absorbed, as Hebrews 12:2-3 explains. Even when facing the cross, His focus was on us and that brought Him joy as he suffered.

So this Mother’s Day I pray we focus not on our family or ourselves, but on Christ. I pray because we were His joy, it can be our joy to serve and love our children and let go of expectations. And that as we expect less from those around us, we can receive with more gratitude and joy what is offered to us.

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