Mother’s Day is a strange day in the life of the church. Historically, it has never made an appearance on any liturgical calendar. There are no biblical mandates for formally honoring mothers during a corporate gathering. However, there are occasions for utilizing our cultural calendars for biblical purposes. We don’t have to recognize or thank God for mothers in a worship gathering, but Mother’s Day gives the church an opportunity to praise, thank, and honor God and mothers in our midst.
Although it is right and good to recognize and honor mothers, Mother’s Day often creates more pain than pleasure in the hearts of Christian women. Even mothers with full quivers feel inadequate. Their Instagram posts aren’t up to snuff. They doubt whether they have done enough or been enough for their children at the end of most days. Women who have or are struggling with infertility feel alienated. Women who have lost children may skip this service altogether. Mothers of wayward children would rather run and hide than stand and receive a gift. Mother’s Day creates pressure to appear perfect. Mother’s Day picks at scabs as old wounds are irritated. Mother’s Day, for some women, is nothing more than a glamorous reminder of the shame they feel.
Shame is the product of failing to meet expectations. Steph Curry, one of the best free throw shooters in the NBA, would be ashamed about missing a free throw late in a playoff game later this week. Shame awakens on days like Mothers Day when women feel they have failed to meet expectations. Some women have biblical expectations of themselves that can create a healthy shame over sin that causes us to run and cling to Christ. Others have culturally or self-imposed expectations of themselves that they were never created to meet, which causes them to run from Christ.
The ultimate and greatest calling of a woman is not to motherhood, but to Christlikeness. Season and station of life cannot change God’s expectations of us. They merely change the expression of a static goal. The goal of womanhood is to be like Christ, be with Christ, and live for Christ. The magnification and multiplication of God’s glory is the goal of every man and woman. Mothers are expected to pursue this goal in the context of their motherhood. Single women pursue this goal in the context of their singleness. The same is true for all of us. The expectations of our lives don’t change even when life circumstances change their expression.
Before crushing yourself with unhealthy shame, check the expectations you have for yourself against God’s expectations of you. You are not accountable to the culture’s expectations or your self-imposed expectations. You are accountable to God’s expectations. God’s expectations are rooted in your God-granted identity. From eternity past, God has set his unmerited and unchangeable grace on you. In Christ, he chose you. In Christ, he redeemed you. In Christ, he is sanctifying you. In Christ, he will make you what you were always meant to be.
Pursue what God calls you to be and look at your life through his eyes. Who does God say you are? Chosen. Called. Redeemed. Adopted. Forgiven. Loved. You are his pleasure because at your core, despite your failures, you are in Christ. His view of you in Christ will never change. His view of you in Christ is all that matters. Ladies, you are not a failure if you cannot bear children. You are not a failure if your motherhood doesn’t meet social media standards. But, as you know, you will fail as a woman and mother. But praise God your identity is found and secured in the sinless life and substitutionary death of Jesus.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their three boys, Jude, Jack, and John.