I suspect there are a lot of us who find Mother’s day difficult. From the pain of broken relationships to bereavement or childlessness, it can feel like staring through a window at a warm fire when you’re locked out in the rain.
So what do you do with those feelings? To what extent do you allow them to determine how you behave?
I don’t think there’s one answer. As with most things, I veer naturally between extremes:
1. life (and church) are a series of tests you must force yourself to pass. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I must volunteer for jobs that are painful or difficult because that’s what being godly is about. Now shut up and babysit.
2. life (and church) are designed for my comfort. The vicar’s job is to make me feel better. How dare you bring your happy family into my sightline. Can’t you see I have NEEDS?
The reality is somewhere in-between.
People are very different and even in my own life, there are periods when I feel stronger than others. For a while I helped out with a mums and toddlers group. It was a real blessing to me; not just because of the fellowship, but because it reminded me that having babies doesn’t make life shiny and perfect. But there were a few months when it was a real wrench, seeing all the children and longing for my own. So after thinking and praying it through, I decided there were other ways of serving that wouldn’t be so painful.
But here’s the thing. Whilst I might avoid certain situations, I don’t want to avoid church. Why?
Because it’s my home. It’s where I share life: with people who are like me, and people who are completely different.
It’s where I meet Jesus. And even though it’s not always comfortable – it’s a place of healing and help.
This morning for example, was our Mothering Sunday service. It was hard seeing so many families when we’d like one of our own. But we went away with a handful of flowers and with hope.
What is that hope? A baby of my own? Well, no. Something even more precious.
My first family is my church – a hundred mums and dads and children and grandparents and brothers and sisters. My identity as a believer is not just who I am in Christ, but who we are together, as His body.
What matters most is not who we belong to by birth – but who we belong to by baptism. Which means that water is thicker than blood. And church is always the place we call home.