One of the blessings of being a husband and father is that I have the opportunity to watch my wife be a mother. She is a dedicated, loving, selfless mom, and I am thankful for her. Not only does she daily provide for our three sons, she has helped me to see God's love in new ways through her mothering. What's more, I have come to understand my own mother's and grandmothers' love more deeply, and I appreciate more consciously everything my mom and grandmothers have done for me. Mothers make known the very heart of God, and we take one day out of a year specifically to recognize them, (kind of like calling a newborn baby a day old—what happened to those nine months of weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, and sacrifice, if that baby is a mere one day old?), and mothers take it in stride, thankful to receive even one note of thanks along the way.
While we pray to our "Our Father, who art in heaven", the role of mother comes directly from God also. Both genders find their value, identity, and uniqueness in the same God. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27) Do you see what God did there? Male and female both are image bearers, both co-created with the joint purpose of creating and stewarding. While it is a mystery, all humanity finds its likeness in the same Creator God. The Trinitarian God is community, so it should come as no surprise that God sets up a team to do the work of parenting. But men and women live out their godliness in very different ways.
The uniqueness of the genders is first clearly seen in the "curses" in Genesis 3, greatly increased pain and difficulty during childbearing for women, and hard work in the world for men. God challenges them most strongly at their most unique roles of serving. Women were made to be mothers, creators in a worldly sense. That is not to diminish any woman who has not physically had children; God has placed within women, generally speaking, the innate urge to nurture, protect, and care for other people. Women are genetically predisposed to sacrifice their own needs for the sake of helpless others. Take meaningful work away from a man and you will find someone distant from God's peace. Take away the opportunity for a woman to be caring, compassionate, and nurturing, and you will find someone with an unfulfilled purpose.
There are probably countless ways mothers make known the love of God, but here are five that come to mind:
- Mothers create. God "knitted me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139) and has employed women in the task of creating. A woman's body actually pieces together the most complex thing on the earth—another body. She does the most technical work within her womb with no conscious thought, but a woman's creativity goes well beyond the womb. Mothers create environments for learning and play, experiences for living and loving. Our mothers increase within us our own capacity to create, as they equip us for life.
- Mothers feed. Whether it was the Israelites in the wilderness or the crowds following Jesus, God provides food for His people. "Richly and daily" God provides for us. Likewise, our mothers feed and bless their children by looking after their daily needs. Mothers value the routine and find meaning in making sure kids have everything they need to thrive, including feeding them spiritually.
- Mothers nurture. Nurturing is the deep process of enriching the life of another. Mothers do this by holding, cuddling, and staring in the eyes of their newborns and continuing to be present for them as they grow. Psalm 131 is a powerful image, comparing God to a mother who is nurturing her child as he grows. Read it, and give thanks to the women who have cultivated peace within you!
- Mothers protect. "As a mother hen gathers her chicks," Jesus tells us, is how he desires to protect us. Even when children are not great at listening, mothers are concerned with their well-being and survival, following the pattern of our Heavenly Father. They are patient when their little chicks wander or peck at each other, and they fend off any predator they sense trying to mess with their child.
- Mothers love selflessly. Parenting isn't easy. It doesn't always feel good, and it rarely serves a personal benefit. Mothers display God's sacrificial love and help us to have a concrete example of what the love of God really is. God's love is selfless and service-oriented. Thank you, mothers, for giving the world, and more importantly, each child, a picture of God's love and devotion to us.
Now, all of these things are done by more than just mothers, and some mothers don't desire to do some of these things. That doesn't negate the special people mothers are and the importance they play in our lives. There is only one person's body in which we take up residence, after all. But we can, and should, give thanks to the many women who have been there for us, helping to mother us along and serve as God's appointed helper, leading us to a deeper trust and dependence on our Savior and guiding, guarding, and giving selflessly.
How have mothers and other "motherly" people in your life demonstrated God's love to you? What difference has your mom made in your life?
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