FIRST-PERSON: I may not be there, but keep honoring moms

by Terri Stovall, posted Friday, May 08, 2015 (2 years ago)

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- It's that time of year again when pastors and churches ask the question, "How do we celebrate Mother's Day without hurting the feelings or distancing ourselves from 'non-moms'?"

I have resonated with many of the posts in defense of the infertile and, in a moment of indignance, might want to chime in. But then, I start seeing pastors and other church leaders post that they will not be recognizing mothers in Sunday's services because of the pain it might cause some women.

I have written about my journey with infertility (Where grief meets grace) and the pain of Mother's Day. Thinking back over the years, some Mother's Days are easier than others. This year is easier than last year. Even so, this Sunday, I will choose not to attend services at my church. It is my defense mechanism, my issue, and a work God continues to do in my heart. It is my choice, this one Sunday.

Yet, this "Non-Mom" encourages -- implores, rather -- pastors and churches to keep honoring mothers.

It is true that there are some in your congregation who are hurting. There are some who long for children and, unlike those in Scripture, God has not chosen to fill their arms with a child. For others, like myself, there is the realization that biological children just will never be. And still others have lost children, longing earnestly to hold them and hear them one last time. All who struggle with Mother's Day are dealing with some type of loss and grief.

Nevertheless, in the midst of the pain, motherhood remains a high calling of God and one that should be honored, encouraged and celebrated. We should not shirk away from celebrating and declaring other truths of Scripture simply because it makes someone uncomfortable. Motherhood is no exception.

In a day when a biblical model of marriage is challenged, naturally leading to the debate of whether it is really better for a child to have a mom and a dad rather than two dads, or two moms, now more than ever the church must celebrate the unique and high calling of mom. Scripture is replete with "mom" analogies, affirmations and instructions (among them: Exodus 20:12, Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 6:16; Isaiah 49:15, 66:13; Psalm 113:9; Proverbs 6:20, 20:20, 23:22-25; Ephesians 6:1-3). Even the apostle Paul likens the way he mentors to a nurturing mother (1 Thessalonians 2:7) and affirms the role that a mother and grandmother had in the life of Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).

Yes, there is a portion of your congregation who will feel the pain of Mother's Day. Some will be sitting in your pews this Sunday with silent tears on their cheeks. Others, like myself, will not be there, and you must be okay with that for this one Sunday. We will be back next week. In all cases, God will be with them.

So, this Sunday:

-- Honor and encourage those who are biological, adoptive or foster mothers, recognizing the importance they have in rearing the next generation.

-- Honor and encourage those who are spiritual mothers, grandmothers, aunts or mother figures in the lives of younger women, for they are living out the Titus 2 mandate.

-- Honor and encourage those who will soon become mothers for the first time, committing to walk with them through the tremendous responsibility that looms before them.

-- Honor and encourage those who have lost a child, grieving with them and always remembering.

-- Understand and encourage those who are hurting, longing to feel fully accepted as a woman, but resting in the assurance that God's grace is most surely felt in the midst of grief.

But don't let those of us who still grieve keep you from honoring the high calling of motherhood. Celebrate it!

This week I will honor my own mother who daily speaks God's Word into my life. This Sunday, I will honor my mother-in-love and other mothers in our family. I am blessed to be the aunt of five and love being a "mom" to so many sharp gals at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I serve. In recent weeks I have had various students honor me as a spiritual mother. It is not unusual for one of our students or student wives to bring their children by the office to say hello. This time of the semester, my office is abuzz with young women stopping by to commiserate or celebrate the outcome of final exams. My life is full of mothering opportunities.

So, this "Non-Mom" is going a little against the current tide, standing tall and encouraging pastors and churches to go ahead and celebrate mothers. You don't have to downplay the importance of mothers for our sakes. It is a high calling, one that is ordained by God and one that should always be honored. God continues to do a work in me, and I may not be there, but keep honoring moms!

Terri Stovall is dean of women's programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and co-author of the book "Women Leading Women." This article first appeared at the seminary's biblicalwoman.com website.
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