We do ourselves a grave disservice by only celebrating the women who hold the title of “mother” on Mother’s Day. Since we focus in on only those women who have given birth to us we miss out on the opportunity to identify all the women who function as mothers in our lives. The truth is, for some of us, Mother’s Day is not a pleasant holiday.
Whether it’s dysfunction, abuse, abandonment, or worse — there don’t seem to be any cards on the shelf that quite express how you might feel if your mom’s love was more hindering than nurturing. Not to mention all the women who have tried and failed to become natural mothers, the people that are reminded of their mothers who are no longer with them, and all the single women who have no aspirations to be mothers but still want to experience the honor of a day set aside just for them. This Sunday morning many of these women will hear the message that they should “Honor their mother” because the Good Book told them so. But would it surprise you to know that the language of the Bible sees motherhood a bit differently than we do?
Back in 2007, when I was a full-time stay-at-home-dad, I was at a neighbor’s house for their four-year-old daughter’s birthday party and had an unforgettable experience. For tons of toddler fun, my neighbor had an inflatable climb and slide in the backyard where the kids were clamoring their way to the top and rushing down the other side. While helping my neighbor police the excitement, I saw a six-year-old boy jump off the top of the slide and land on his sister’s head. Knowing him from around the neighborhood, I addressed him straight-away and informed him that he would be losing his next turn because of his behavior. Without even a thought, he looked up at me and flipped me off with his middle finger! Looking around for some help from his parents I realized that not only were his parents not present at the party but that it would indeed be a complete waste of time and energy to track them down and inform them of his indiscretion. Why? Because I had just met his parents through him.
You see, there is something every parent needs to know (but doesn’t want to hear). And it’s simply this:
This weekend, we celebrate Mother’s Day by honoring the women in our lives that function as our moms.
Moms help us in so many practical and spiritual ways to become our best and guide us on our journey. They sacrifice their needs to help meet ours. They help us gain perspective when we need it most. They give tirelessly to make our homes places of refuge and peace even when they’re feeling exhausted and drained. Moms provided our first embrace and are the last people on the planet that we want to let go of.
Moms are awesome! So, in honor of the women in our lives that we have the privilege of calling “mom,” here are 3 huge reasons moms rock.
Always include these three things if you want a love that lasts
Have you ever found a recipe that you were just dying to try only to find out after you had made it that it just didn’t live up to your expectations? They look great. They smell great. We get excited to try them and then…not so much.
One of my most vivid memories of this happened to my mom. I grew up in a house where all the books we owned were cookbooks. So, my mom tried many recipes out on us at the dinner table. But none were as famous (or infamous) as the Tofu Cheesecake. That’s right, tofu cheesecake.
My mom had spent all day cooking for a dinner party at our house that evening and had made what appeared to be a delectable cheesecake for dessert. We (my dad, my brother, and myself) were all excited to devour it and dove right into it after we had our meal. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget the look on my dad’s face when he took the first big bite. It was screaming, “Warning, warning! Do not let this pass your own lips!” It was a dinner party disaster. Luckily, my mom had a back up plan to save the night because it was that nasty.
Sometimes we think we have everything we need to make something delicious because we’re following the recipe we’ve been given, but then it turns out to not be so great and we don’t know why. We end up asking ourselves, “Did I make it right? Maybe I left something out? It looked so good, what went wrong?”
This happens everyday in relationships as well. We follow the recipe we’ve been given and we input the ingredients we think are going to make a great relationship and then one day we realize that this isn’t quite turning out the way we thought it would.
Maybe it’s time to take a second look at our recipe for love and see if we’re missing some key ingredients for creating a remarkable relationship.
Getting down on one knee might be the most universal sign of relationship commitment that exists in our American culture. “Will you marry me?” is the question that is being asked with this most decidedly uniform way of displaying our interest in sharing our lives together, forever. But what does it mean to be engaged to be married? Is it an event that passes us by or is it a process that continues long after the event has passed?
Not long ago, I was given the distinct privilege of officiating the wedding of my good friends. It was a beautiful affair, on an unusually warm November afternoon, in a lovely chapel with high archways and ornate wooden doors. All in attendance were so happy to see this lovely couple united in marriage and equally thrilled to witness the event.
The bride wore a lovely ivory gown and was walked slowly down the aisle by her loving father. As she approached the altar I could see the groom tearing up, overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. The bride’s mother and father kissed her on the cheek and handed her to the groom so that they could solidify their commitment to one another, and he ushered her up to the altar where I began to speak.
Weddings are funny things. We put so much emphasis on these events that there are whole industries built around them. Dresses, decor, photography, videography, music, flowers, food, and location rentals just to name a few. But in the end, weddings are just elaborate parties. Lots of family and friends are invited to celebrate the day that the happy couple decides to proclaim to the world that they are ready to begin the rest of their lives together. The problem is, most couples never think past the wedding and run head-long into enormous trouble after the event has passed. Luckily, my friends were fortunate (or not, depending on who you ask) to have me as their pre-marital coach to prepare them for the journey of marriage, not the event of the wedding.
I chose to address those present at their wedding with a metaphor of what marriage truly is. Here’s a little of what I said: “Marriage is the process of becoming one. Marriage is not merely two people coming together to form a partnership, nor is it an agreement to become permanent roommates. No, marriage is two people serving and sacrificing for one another, completing one another, and continually becoming one.”
I continued, “Marriage is like a precious gem. Marriage develops over time – diamonds don’t form in ten years; they require millennia. It takes only a few minutes to get married, but building a marriage requires a lifetime. A diamond is the final result of a long and intensive process – and so is marriage. Over time and under the intense heat and pressure of life, two people under the covenant of marriage come together and are lost in each other to the point where it becomes impossible to tell where one person ends and the other begins.” I concluded, “A great marriage is no accident. It is the product of intentional actions, shared experiences, and lots of time as two people are in the process of becoming one.”
At the start, every marriage has the opportunity to be an example for others to follow or a warning for others to avoid. What those great marriages teach us is that the secret to having an exemplary relationship is simple – be engaged.