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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Rejoicing and Weeping

Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  This is my favorite verse on Mother’s Day.  Being childless is a great sorrow in my life, and yet there are aspects of it for which I am grateful.  One of the ways I am grateful for this pain in my life is that it has opened my eyes in new ways to see the outcaste and the marginalized.  There are a lot of people in this world who do not feel like they fit in.  There are a lot of people in this life who aren’t easy to be around.  There are a lot of people in this life who are lonely.  Recently, I was talking to an older gentleman who is friendly, joyful, and quick to help out wherever he is needed in his community.  We were making small talk and Mother’s Day came up.  He shared with me his experience of Mother’s and Father’s Day.  This outgoing person was telling me how he usually makes a point to stay home on these two days, as being out and about just highlights his own loneliness as a man who has been single his whole life.  Another friend of mine has recently lost her mother suddenly to cancer.  Another friend of mine has a strained and painful relationship with her mother.  Another friend has lost a child.  Another friend is amazing with children and has longed for children and marriage and has not found either.  The other day on the radio, I heard a caller discuss tearfully how painful it is to pick out a Mother’s Day card for her emotionally absent mother—all of the cards just gushed about how great moms were and this caller could not stomach the falsity of giving her mom such a card.  Many of my friends have struggled with infertility and Mother’s Day is unbearable to them. 
For me, I have struggled with childlessness.  I am 36 and I don’t fit into my peer group.  I don’t know what my future is like—whether I will ever experience the joys and gifts of motherhood or grand-motherhood or whether I will be without a family in this sense.  Mother’s Day is not easy for me.  I cannot tell you how many awkward moments I have had when strangers have wished me a Happy Mother’s Day.  I remember once walking into a church where every woman was handed a flower for Mother’s Day.  When I walked in the door I awkwardly told the well-meaning greeter that I wasn’t a mom, and he took the flower back, not knowing what to say or do. 

I love that Jesus noticed the people that other people missed.  I love that Jesus sought out the outcaste and the marginalized and the unpopular—like tax collectors and prostitutes.  I love that the Bible even calls Jesus a “Man of Sorrows”.
Anyway, the point of this post is to say, if you are one who finds Mother’s Day joyful that is great of course, but maybe look around and notice those who do not—recognize their weeping and weep with them.  Recognize that sometimes, they are going to need space, time, grace and accommodation to heal.  Remember them when they feel forgotten, rejected, and lonely.  If you are one who finds Mother’s Day painful, that is okay too, but when you are able, seek the gift of being able to look around and rejoice with those who are rejoicing.  Being a mother is no doubt a difficult thing too and is full of sacrifice.  These Moms should be encouraged, helped, and celebrated.  Children are indeed a blessing to parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and friends.  Find the joy in other people’s joy.

If you think about it, it is hard to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, when you are completely broken.  It is hard to weep with those who weep when everything is going right in your life.  What makes this almost impossible task possible is love—love that looks outside of ourselves, love that looks around, love that puts ourselves in another person’s shoes, love that is there for the “unlovely”, love that makes us vulnerable and honest, and love that makes another person’s interests their own.
I have found this love in Christ.  He has loved me like this--amazing love.  He has loved me in my brokenness. He has loved me in my anger. He has loved me in my rebellion. He has loved me when I question His goodness and wisdom. He has loved me unconditionally. He has loved me sacrifically. He has loved me by providing for my needs. He has loved me by allowing me to walk through the fires of life in order to see new and beautiful things and to grow in many ways. He has loved me by never leaving me alone. He has loved me by bridging the gap in painful or absent relationships. He has loved me by putting love in my heart for people I would never love on my own and in circumstances where I would rather retreat instead of engage.  This love transforms. I pray that He will continue to put His love in my heart--that He would help me to love more like Him, more sincerely, more purely, more sacrificially, and more passionately.  I pray that He would help me love in all the difficult and impossible situations in my life and that He would help me love the difficult and impossible people in my life (recognizing that I am a "difficult and impossible" person too! :))
No matter where we are at, may this love help us love our those around us in their weeping and rejoicing!
1 Cor12: 12 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”