Laura Betters: Hurting on Mother's Day

Ah, Mother's Day.  That day in May where we all get to boast about how great our mothers are.  How loving and necessary to our lives they have been.  That day we celebrate all their hard work.  Celebrate family. Children.  Love.  After all, a mother is the heart of the home. 

Unless she's not.  Unless she hasn't been.  Unless there's a gaping hole where that solid bedrock of a family's foundation should have been.

I'd never really thought too much about this day – just another Hallmark holiday, really - until I lost my mom at the age of eleven.  Then Mother's Day seemed more like a neon sign glaring down the road at me from ten long miles away.  Much like that cluster of tacky shops and signs infamously known as ‘South of the Border'; that supposed respite along the way to Florida on I-95, just across the state line in South Carolina. There's a gaudy billboard every mile announcing what's ahead, just in case for one brief moment you might have forgotten. Mother's Day, just ten days ahead:  "Look who's not here.  Look what you're missing."

For many, this day is a giant exclamation point of pain.  Of loss and heartache.   For the motherless, for the couple struggling with infertility, for the child who never knew his mother's love but only her failures and for the mothers who have buried their children, the invisible thread that tethers the two now unbearably severed.  But maybe there is something at the heart of all this.  Maybe when something causes so much pain it means that it's pretty vital to our existence.  It's at the core of who we are, the role of a mother. 

We were walking the other day, my family and I, with my oldest daughter and husband walking a few paces ahead.   (Hang with me here)  And I noticed for the hundredth time how her legs had begun to stretch tall, how her head now reached her daddy's shoulder.  She's not a little girl anymore.  I look at her now, on the brink of womanhood, I look into her bright blue eyes and I don't see what she was (a baby) or what she is (a girl on the brink), I see what she will be.  What she's aimed for – her trajectory.  I see someone else's mother, someone else's wife.  A woman with her own calling and identity, separate from my own.  But vital to someone else.  Maybe vital to many others.  I don't know what her path will be, but I know this is my chance.  My chance to speak love into her heart, to point her to the only Anchor there is in this stormy life. To hold her up when she feels weak and unsure.  To heap grace upon grace upon grace into her life, so that she loves the One from whom grace flows. 

And then for the first time it occurred to me (I know, I'm pretty slow) that in the absence of my mother there had been other women who'd done the same for me.  Women who laughed with me when I needed to laugh, who cried with me when I needed to cry.  Who looked into my eyes and saw my trajectory and not the broken girl I was.  Who knew that I was like an arrow that needed aiming before the bow string was released.  Who knew there was a calling on my life though they could not guess would that would be.  Who heaped grace upon grace upon grace into my life so that I could do nothing else but fall head over heels in love with the One from whom all grace flows.     

I've had so many mothers.  Mothers for a moment.  Mothers for a season.  Women who looked at me and loved me in spite of myself.  (Because isn't that what a mother does?) 

And here is the truth of it, for those of us who are hurting today – we need to remember that we are all nurturing something.  Each and every one of us is nurturing someone in some way.  You may not even realize it, but you are vital to someone else's trajectory.  Each of us is a mother - that bedrock role God created in order to use our hands as His.

And maybe this South of the Border rest stop is just a reminder of the real destination.  We're halfway there, I think, as the blinking lights and bright colors trying to grab my attention flash by the car window. But it doesn't hold my attention.  I've got my mind and my heart set on another place.  

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