“Would all of the mothers please stand?”
All the mothers stand.
Everyone applauds, looking around and smiling.
A song plays while the elders hand deliver roses to each mother.
I sit by myself (my husband is in the sound booth). I feel publicly humiliated. I am trying not to register any emotion, but I feel deep spasms of sobs coming on. At last the song ends and there is a prayer–I can run to the bathroom and cry. But even then, there’s no escape; my friend is in there nursing her infant, and she smiles up at me. I lock myself in a stall barely in time before tears come.
That was the last time I ever went to church on Mother’s Day.
Since then, I’ve reflected frequently on the experience, especially on the one Sunday a year when I stay home from church. Am I being selfish? Unreasonable? Controlled by my emotions? What can I change about my own attitude and behavior that would bring more glory to God? By God’s grace, I’ve recognized a lot of deep-seated bitterness in my heart, repented of it, and I am now in much more peaceful, joyful, and contented place. Rather than responding in anger to people’s thoughtless comments, I now think, “How can I educate them? How can I help them understand so that they don’t hurt someone who is in a more vulnerable place than I am?”
But I still don’t go to church on Mother’s Day. It’s partially a desire to keep myself in a mentally healthy place. If I’m being honest, it’s also a mild protest. Children ought to honor their mothers on every day of the year, not just one day. Families can honor their mothers at home (I LOVE Skyping with my mom and wishing her a happy Mother’s Day). So why does the church feel the need to set aside a special time in the worship service to honor mothers? What about the contributions of women who are single or who are childless? I’ve mentored, coached, disciplined, and prayed for hundreds of students over the years. Do those contributions matter in the church’s economy? I know where I belong in my career and in the secular academic world. Is there a place for me in the church?
“Would all the mothers please stand?” the smiling elder asks.
Where do I stand on Mother’s Day?
This is a post I wrote in 2013. Last year, for a number of reasons, I decided to go back to church on Mother’s Day, and I plan to go back again this year. Here’s a recent post that shows what God is teaching me about this subject two years later.