On Mother’s Day five years ago, when Caleb was still just a dream in my heart, instead of a baby in my tummy or my arms, we took some friends out for lunch. I can’t remember now whether or not that was difficult to navigate with our families, but it was important to us, so somehow we made it work.
My friend hadn’t gone to church that morning, because earlier that year, she’d lost her first baby. And at church that morning, as we always did, we handed out flowers to moms and told them how great they were and clapped for them, and she just couldn’t handle it. I don’t blame her.
I sat with another friend recently, who shared with me, in tears, what a difficult time of year this is for her. It was a Mother’s Day when her mom went into the hospital and never came out. On that very same day five years ago when I was sitting with my friend grieving one kind of loss, this new friend was grieving another.
Mother’s Day is an awesome day full of love and celebration for families where there is a mom and children. It’s a day of rejoicing. But for many others, whose family doesn’t look like that, it’s not such a happy day. It’s a day of mourning.
The Bible has clear instructions on how we are to respond to those around us on days like this: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). As a church, we have done a very good job of rejoicing with people on Mother’s Day. But the mourners? Their pain often gets brushed under the carpet as something too messy and uncomfortable for us to deal with on a Sunday morning.
So we alienate our own people. We wound them. We unitentionally communicate to them, “We know you’re a Christian, but if you’re not a mom, or don’t have one, there isn’t a place for you in the body of Christ today.”
Shame on us.
We have to be better than that. If we are going to communicate to the world that the church is a place where everyone is equal at the foot of the cross, if the world is going to know we are Jesus disciples because of our love for each other (John13:35), if we are truly going to be one body with many parts, we must take this seriously: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
I’m not trying to disparage churches who are wanting to do a good and noble thing by honoring the mothers in their congregations. After all the rest of that verse in 1 Corinthians says, “if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
What I am trying to say is that there’s plenty of room for both rejoicing and mourning. As people who follow Jesus, we should make every effort, even when we are suffering in our own lives, to rejoice in the blessings others have received from God’s hand. But those who have been blessed are equally (and maybe even more) responsible to enter into the pain of the believers in our midst who are suffering and suffer alongside them.
So at Life360 Ozark on Mother’s Day, this is what we will do, as long as I have any say about it: We will welcome the mothers in our midst, thankful that God has blessed you with children, and honor the hard work of mothering you do each day. And we will also welcome non-mothers, and mother-less daughters and single dads and any other person made in God’s image who wants to worship Him with us.
If you follow Jesus, there is a place for you in the church. And we would love for you to join us this Sunday!