Everywhere you go, you see them. It is impossible not to see them. Even more invasively, you see them even in the mirror. And yet, I suspect you rarely consider the wonder of it all.
You see the impact of mothers everywhere.
Everyone, without exception, has a mother. There is simply no getting around it. It doesn’t matter if a person is homeless, has two dads, hates women, is adopted, an orphan, is surrendering their dignity on a porn site, is the biggest bully at work, or had their mom die before they knew them – every person has a mother.
Everyone, without exception, has a mother.
My wife and I will often pass a lonesome soul wandering the streets. They may be greasy and messy, stumbling and unshaven, atrophied and addicted, but we will look at one another and say, “Somewhere, that guy has a mother.” The story of the mother of my children shapes our response, for we have a child who others might see and jump to conclusions about what home was really like.
Have you thought of all this before?
You have a mother.
Even that four-word sentence – regardless of the condition of your relationship with her now – stirs memories and evokes emotions. And if that four-word sentence can do that for you, have you considered that it is the same for everyone?
Everyone has a mother. No one enters the world without her. This is God’s plan. And that is why we honor mothers.
Everyone, even Jesus, God the Son, had a mother. Jesus’ entry into the world as the One sent from the Father required a woman. God humbled himself to attach to our story via an umbilical cord. Life – and even eternal life – must be birthed. Everyone starts out in a sack of fluid within the female body. Everyone enters the world through her pain – and then we all add to it for years to come – a stark reminder of the fallout of sin that has beset us all (Genesis 3:16).
God humbled himself to attach to our story via an umbilical cord.
A Mother’s Unique Role
A mother, differently than a father, carries unique things for the entire planet.
She carries life. Indeed, the continuance of life depends on her. That’s a big deal!
She carries love. Indeed, even when a mom has made mistakes or chosen – or been forced – to surrender a child for adoption, they feel the pain of God’s love like no other. As Mitch Albom writes, “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” This purity of love – even the pain they will endure to love – is the honorable and visible portrait of God’s pure love. And, though sometimes fragile and broken, it is married to the heart of God himself.
She carries honor. One of the greatest disrespects is to dishonor a mother. Cursing that attacks mother is the most heinous. The macho male athlete will give a shout-out to mom, soldiers in foxholes and killers in prison cells will cry out for their moms. When the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy on how to live as Christian man of integrity he says, “Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters” (1 Timothy 5:2). The honorific title of mother – and even the potential of motherhood in a younger woman – is held up as a model for how men are to relate to woman. In honoring mothers we keep learning humility and unlearn our selfish pride and recover some semblance of childlikeness.
One special day a year is set aside for this honoring obligation. The guilt induced by Mother’s Day advertising can overwhelm. The appreciation expressed on that day is a forced but real sincerity. But so can be the anger, regret or disappointment many feel on that day.
As a dad of three sons and three daughters (who are physically designed to become mothers, as my seven year-old daughter very matter-of-factly reminded me recently), I desire to raise them to honor their mother not one day a year, but as a pervading disposition; as a heart attitude, as a sign that they are both human and people of faith.
Honoring mom will shape their relationships with all people, for everyone has a mother. She is represented all around them – all around us. She gloriously and mysteriously carries the image of God.