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How to Help When Mother's Day Hurts (Part 2)

I have a great mother who is involved in my life.  I have been married to the same wonderful woman since Feb. 1, 1997 and she is the mother of both of my daughters.  Mother’s Day is a joyous, easy fit holiday for our family. 
Sometimes life is not made for holidays.  Hallmark has yet to create a card that explains every situation.  Under certain circumstances, the perceptions of Mother’s Day may range from an annual reminder of loss to an empty celebration of a relationship someone never had. 
Yet, in our perfection and dysfunction, we all sit together in church.  In comes Mother’s Day, once a year, with a glossary of stereotypes, categorical assumptions, and ignorance of the caveats of life that may make celebrating motherhood at bit uneasy.
What do we do when Mother’s Day hurts?
How do we avoid, amongst the people of God, emotional separation in a day of celebration? How can we do Mother’s Day in a way that is not insensitive but at the same time remains sincere?  
In my previous post I stated the first two of four ways I believe we may help when Mother's Day hurts.

Everyday needs grace.
Celebrate the story of the gospel.

Below are the final two ways I believe we may be able to help hurting people on Mother's Day.

Speak to the opportunity all women have on Mother’s Day.   
On the Saturday before Mother’s Day I attended a birthday party.  Joan Hamrick was there.  There is nothing genetically that connects me to her, yet when I introduced her to someone at the party I put my arm around her and said, “This is Ms. Joan.  She is a mother to me.  I have lots of moms.”  
There was nothing in my statement that diminished the role of my own mother in my life.  There was nothing in my statement that took away from Ms. Joan’s role in raising her own son, who was also at the party.  Instead, the statement echoes something incredibly Biblical that rings true for all of us.  In Christ there are familial bonds that are birthed of which no hospital on the planet has record.  There is no birth certificate sufficient to explain the birth of the church.
If there is anything unfortunate in Mother’s Day, it is the way we ignore these otherwise unnatural bonds that are critical to the story of our faith.  Pat Bishop, Ellen Eaker, Wanda Altman, Carol Lea, Jessie Foster, Bernice Mueller, Janice Swanson, Kathy Johnson - there is a massive roll call of women in my story, many of them having their own children, some who had no birth children - yet all of them playing a critical, mothering role in my life.  
Birth is the most common way in which we think a woman becomes a mother, but it is not the exclusive way.
Mother’s Day should celebrate the role women play in mothering our faith, but it should also raise the awareness of a myriad of children in our culture who are in desperate need of a godly woman to step into their story.  This need also raises the ugly reality that birth doesn’t qualify a woman to be a mother.  Some women possess the biology but lack the character and love it takes to finish the job of mom.  If this is the case, the lack of birth doesn’t disqualify a woman from being a mom.  God has gifted far more women than we celebrate with a holiday to be moms. 
Be thankful for your spiritual moms.  Hug them.  Celebrate them.  Share with them the impact they have made on your life.  We don't have to wait until a holiday to give honor to whom honor is due. 
Use the day to advocate.
I did a better job of it last year, but on Mother’s Day we should be advocates for adoption and champions for the sanctity of life.  Mother’s Day should be the ultimate celebration of life.  As stated above, there are so many ways that women step into our stories and give us life, but how incredibly intentional does that life giving capacity of women become when they give life to a child who otherwise has none? 
In 2014 I set aside my sermon and asked three mothers to tell their stories to our congregation.  Two of them were adoptive moms.  One of them a single mom.  The third mother was adopted when she was a child.  We set their stories up in a panel discussion type format, but it was greater than any sermon on the subject I could have offered.  The experience not only enriched my life, but it touched many people in the audience and expanded our view of exactly what it means to be a mother.  
Mother’s Day give us an opportunity to advocate for something that is incredibly gospel centered; to protect the lives of the unborn and to give familial connection to those who have been abandoned.  We cannot ignore the fact that every person who believes in Christ has been adopted (Gal. 4:5-7).

Mother’s Day is not a perfect day.  Life on planet Earth, post-sin, provides us with many painful caveats.  Yet the hope of the gospel gives us reason not to allow loss and trial to overcome us, or any of our days.  May God bless us with more life giving moms and let’s look forward to celebrating what Christ has done again, next year on Mother’s Day.

Brian Branam is the Lead Pastor of 
Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, GA 
and the author of #TheWalk.

Pic credit to: just4u, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/587236

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How to Help When Mother's Day Hurts (Part 1)

I have a great mother who is involved in my life.  I have been married to the same wonderful woman since Feb. 1, 1997 and she is the mother of both of my daughters.  Mother’s Day is a joyous, easy fit holiday for our family. 
Sometimes life is not made for holidays.  Hallmark has yet to create a card that explains every situation.  Under certain circumstances, the perceptions of Mother’s Day may range from an annual reminder of loss to an empty celebration of a relationship someone never had. 
Yet, in our perfection and dysfunction, we all sit together in church.  In comes Mother’s Day, once a year, with a glossary of stereotypes, categorical assumptions, and ignorance of the caveats of life that may make celebrating motherhood at bit uneasy.
What do we do when Mother’s Day hurts?
How do we avoid, amongst the people of God, emotional separation in a day of celebration? How can we do Mother’s Day in a way that is not insensitive but at the same time remains sincere?  
Every day needs grace.
We live in a highly sensitive culture that makes an impossible demand - get it right for everybody.  Fortunately the church is a community of grace that embraces us when we don’t get it right at all.  Romans 14 teaches the church how to handle our days with grace.
Some people will find a holiday hard to live without.  Some will find a holiday hard to live with.  It is required of both parties to use a measure of grace to realize what a holiday is and what it isn’t.  Paul warns us not to esteem any day as so important that we lose sight of Christ.
Mother’s Day doesn’t make a mother, but mothers make the day.  A mom with children should not be made to feel guilty for her family on Mother’s Day.  At the same time the day should not be used to deflate or devalue those who are not.  Yet grace gives us a loving way to handle our days that creates a bond between us despite the variables in our community of circumstances.  
Mother’s Day is an opportune time to share incredible stories of how God’s love has created familial relationships, helped in times of loss, or provided sustaining strength in a world not ready made for Hallmark.  In a culture that questions the value of birth and by its innuendoes communicates that parenting is a hassle; grace creates a place where the stories of women who want, love, lose, adopt, have big families or struggle to have any family are shared.  In grace each find a place.  
Some of my favorite moments of Mother’s Day, through the lens of a pastor, are not in the conversations we avoid, but they come while listening to the conversations grace demands.  Grace creates a place where the mother who lost an unborn child receives strength, love, and counsel from the matriarch of many.  At the table of grace sits an adoptive mother who shows a new mom how to handle her colicky baby.  Grace makes Mother’s Day beautiful. 
Grace liberates us from an environment of legalism in which sensitivity is the law and celebrates the story of motherhood in an imperfect world.  Every day needs grace.
Celebrate the story of the gospel.
Following the curse, Adam inaugurated the first celebration of moms.  In Genesis 3:15 God informed the serpent that a child would be born of the woman who would crush the tyranny of Satan and liberate us from the curse of sin.  
Adam understood well the prophecy and responded by changing the name of his wife, a woman who at the time had no children, to Eve which means “mother of all living (Gen. 3:20).”
While we do live in a world that struggles with infertility and infant death, we cannot deny that every person that exists can celebrate God’s goodness in preserving the blessing of God to be fruitful and multiply.  We have been born.
In Mother’s Day we should also be reminded that the Son of God has been born of woman (Galatians 4:4).  It is through His virgin birth, atoning death, and victorious resurrection that we find new birth.  
What we will deal with in this life, until the return of Christ, will always be an imperfect version Mother’s Day.  There will always be loss and caveats to our sin cursed stories that will bring pain into the holiday.  We are all vulnerable.  Therefore, Mother’s Day should not simply be a recognition of mother’s but a proclamation of the hope we have in Christ.
Mother’s Day should remind us of the gospel story.  It is a story that tells us, yes, you have been born, but we must be born again.  It is also a story that reminds us that in whatever situation we find ourselves on Mother’s Day, there is a meta-narrative that comforts us all, reminding us that in Christ all things will be made new.  His grace is sufficient.  He has not left us hopeless. 
Mother’s Day should carry with it the proclamation that for every broken hearted woman, no matter the circumstance, that we have a Savior who has stepped into our story.  The gospel gives us hope in the loss of every unborn child.  The gospel speaks into the grief of every mother who has ever said goodbye to a child of any age.  The power of Jesus being the firstborn from the dead brings the potential of fertility where there is none.  
When Adam heard the gospel it compelled him to look at his wife in a whole new way.  She was not yet a mother in one sense - in another sense, she already was and would always be a mother.  However, one chapter later she would lose a child.  Even after Cain killed his brother Abel, the gospel preserved the meaning of Eve.  Because of the birth of Christ, she would always retain the title Mother of all Living.  Through Christ, there is a dignity every woman shares with Eve.  The gospel is that powerful.  
I am sure in the centuries of life God gave them on the planet, that Adam and Eve experienced every conceivable heartbreaking story that threatens to crash a Happy Mother’s Day.  Yet Adam and Eve heard the gospel in the promise of the Savior’s birth and it gave them hope as they walked away from the garden as exiles into a less than perfect world.
Because of the gospel none of us are exiles on Mother’s Day.

Brian Branam is the Lead Pastor of 
Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, GA 
and the author of #TheWalk.

Pic credit to: just4u, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/587236


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