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<< Holidays & Special Coverage << Mother's Day

How to Celebrate Grieving and Joy on Mother's Day

  • Bonnie Gray The Faith Barista
  • 2011 5 May
How to Celebrate Grieving and Joy on Mother's Day

As a mom of two preschooler boys, I’m sandwiched in between my experience of motherhood as a child and my own journey as a mother.

When I was pregnant, daydreaming of the life I wanted to build for my new family, I never would’ve guessed that my own growing up years would return to me.

What I’ve found are flashbacks to my own childhood.  Memories that I had long forgotten resurface as I step through childhood a second time with my children.

I am both little girl and grown up woman, finding my way to nurture and create a new history with my children.

What I didn’t anticipate is that along with the loving a mother naturally desires to grow into, God has taken me through a journey of grieving.

Motherhood goes deeper than genes transmitted to one’s offspring. It cracks hard places open, to face ourselves as child and let God love us.

Deep where we’ve pushed away our weaknesses to grow up and become adults, lies the heart of a child that Jesus tells us holds a secret — to bring heaven into us on earth.

“Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. … whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” ~ Jesus, Mark 4:25-29

Never Anticipated

I used to think that joy meant the absence of grief.  Whenever certain holidays would circle around, I would beat whatever was bothering me into submission.  I spent most of my emotional energy trying to keep the closet of sadness shut.

Becoming a mom has disassembled that steel determination.  I can’t explain it, except to conclude my heart can no longer protect itself like a sieve held up to rushing whitewater.  The heart isn’t a piece of machinery we can open one valve and close another.  When we open our hearts to joy, especially children, our defenses are dismantled. Our innocence returns.

I’ve had to grieve what I missed out in the earlier chapters of my story, but I’m also learning there are moments of grieving in the daily giving as a mother too.  There is a lot of letting go in exchange for the joy of letting in.

Because God is in us, this grieving is life-giving. It blossoms into joy. How? Need brings us close, held and loved as God’s child.

I never could have anticipated this:  becoming a mother returns my heart to becoming a child.

The joy of becoming a child once again with God is the joy I am celebrating this Mother’s Day.

Another Mystery At Work

I don’t know if sorrow is a part of your Mother’s Day this year.  Some of us carry broken relationships with our mothers.  Others of us have lost a mother, carry the burden of single motherhood, face unique challenges as stepmother, or have been waiting to become a mom, through adoption or physical birth.  In the case of my friend Heather, some have had to say goodbye for now, until heaven.

Every woman is a little girl in the arms of Jesus.

Motherhood is deep, complex and mysterious.  Motherhood changes you — whether we have children to hold or mothers to embrace.

As we carry our grief to God as Father and Jesus as our gentle Confidante this Mother’s Day, remember another mystery is at work in us.

We can run to Abba Father like children into arms never empty of gifts of joy for you and me.  Moments of sadness won’t change this fact:  God created us to be nurturers, givers of life and drawn to create beauty wherever we go.

God starts this creative work of turning sorrow into joy first in us — in our hearts.

Especially On Mother’s Day

If you find yourself encountering moments of grief, whether for yourself or in your experience with motherhood, don’t be afraid.

Grief isn’t the end of your story. Joy is.

The God who loves you, calls you by name, and unconditionally delights in you. He will never turn you away.

Jesus always welcomes you and me, as little girls and grown up women. His heart is gentle and meek. Yet his power to love us is strong enough to bring joy right alongside the sorrows.

The love of God is mysterious.  It will breathe life in and through us. 

This is the kind of kingdom God tells us to enter freely into each and every day. It doesn’t matter whether you and I can see it in our moments of weakness.

In God’s eyes, you and I are his hidden treasure. Especially on Mother’s Day.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy  over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” 
~ Jesus, Matthew 13:44

How are you experiencing God through motherhood or Mother’s Day this year?

Bonnie GrayThe Faith Barista, serves up shots of faith for everyday life. 
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Publication date: May 5, 2011