It was the season of school and seminary and second-shift work weeks. It was the chapter of late-night date nights and grocery shopping at the 24-hour Walmart in the wee hours of morning. It was the crunch time before moving far away to a year of unknowns and saying goodbye to the good friends we had made in our newlywed years of marriage.
And it was the countdown to crying through one of the hardest weekends of the year.
Even now, Mother's Day is still a weekend of mixed emotions. By far and large it is one of joy and gratitude. But I still remember. And my heart aches for so many, including ones I dearly love, for whom it is a weekend of overwhelming sadness.
As I was considering the words I would share in this post, I ran across the picture below. I was surprised by how my emotions still connected, completely understanding even after so many years and experiences apart. Wounds heal, but scars remain. Truthfully, I do not want to forget because forgetting endangers my compassion, appreciation and my gratitude.
Sixteen years ago, we were going to run away. We even had running away buddies, good friends eager for a change from the hectic pace of life we shared juggling school and work and future plans. Their reasons for going were not the same as ours, but we equally anticipated farm fresh breakfasts and clean air hiking and great conversations and memories made. For us, it would replace the still sadness of sitting alone as hugs and flowers flowed to the mothers around us at church on Sunday morning. It meant taking control of a day that in years previous had taken control of us. It was, as I said, running away.
But GOD! He came running toward us instead.
With one phone call, every plan changed and hopes deemed impossible hovered close enough for our hearts to touch. And then touch them we did in the form of a soft, sweet bundle of baby girl. Sixteen years ago, we'd never heard of cocooning and so we did what seemed only natural and headed to the one place we'd been out of place every Mother's Day weekend for several years before. We walked into church four days after learning of our daughter's existence and less than 48 hours after having her placed into our arms. Most people did not even know she had arrived. It was surreal and feels, to this day, like a dream.
Why did our dream come true while so many others still wait? I cannot and do not and never will know the answer. This I do know, that in our fallen world joy and sorrow are inextricably mixed. My joy at becoming a first-time mother through adoption was through the sorrow of a birth mother who made the most profound and sacrificial choice for her child. Mother's Day for me is a reminder of saying hello; for her it is of saying goodbye. This Mother's Day, some moms will enjoy lunches with their daughters and phone calls from their sons and yet other sons and daughters will spend the day with only a memory of a beloved mother who has gone Home. There will be missionary moms who FaceTime with children at colleges far away, and moms of missionaries who cannot recall the last time their child's furlough coincided with this special holiday. There will be mothers at hospitals whose babies have yet to come home; and others at gravesides of little lives cut short. There will be mothers estranged by no choice of their own and others as a result of choices they have yet to own.
And there will be those outside looking in who wait and hope and long to one day join the ranks of those called Mom.
I know, because I was one of them.
Joy and sorrow. Sorrow and joy. How do we celebrate in light of this? I believe the answer is found in Solomon's wisdom: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." If our season is joy, we should rejoice. If sorrow, we must sorrow well. But we should not stop there. We should also enter into each other's season, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
This Mother's Day, I give thanks for my precious Mom whose sacrificial parenting and selfless love shaped my understanding of motherhood. I give thanks for my beloved Mother-in-Law whose consistent training and loving discipline developed the man whom I am privileged to parent alongside. I think of our Grandmothers who were and are strong, brave, sweet and faithful women of God. I honor five amazing women whose love first held and carried the children I will be blessed to hold in my embrace on Mother's Day. And I carry in my heart and prayers the women whose arms may feel so empty this Sunday morning. May the God of all comfort be their comfort on this hardest of days.
To each and every Mother in our life:
You are seen.
You are loved.
May God bless you on this Mother's Day.