Well . . . here it comes again: Mother’s Day—or, as I like to call it, the Great Day of Guilt and Discontent. Ugh.
Men don’t know what to do with it. It terrifies them.
They hope that the gifts they’ve chosen will please their wives and mothers. They don’t want to be known as an ungrateful person who failed to properly honor the woman who gave him life or birthed his children.
Women don’t know what to do with it either.
Mother’s Day angst sounds like this: I wish I were a mother. I wish I were a better mother. I wish I loved my mother. I wish my mother loved me. I wish my mom were still alive. I wish I hadn’t aborted that child. I wish I could have children. I wish I knew who my mother was. I wish I hadn’t given my baby away. I wish I would have had a chance to be a mom. I wish my children loved me. I wish they would write. I wish they were still alive.
Mother’s Day is the Law—it breeds discontent and guilt.
We live in a sin-cursed world and no matter how much we try to honor someone we love, it always seems to come out wrong. We can give the sweetest presents with the best intentions but still . . . it just never turns out like we hoped it would.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not the sort of woman who would seek to ban a day when I have the power to make my husband and sons cook for me. (I’m not that stupid!) But I would like to bring some gospel-sanity into it.
Here’s what’s wrong with Mother’s Day (and every other celebration of our own goodness): Any time you seek satisfaction, honor, and glory in yourself you’re going to be dissatisfied—that applies to both women and men. Any time you look for someone to give you something that will make you feel like you’ve done a good job, or are finally a person of worth, you’re going to be disappointed. Men will be disappointed because their wives or moms don’t appreciate how much they tried to appreciate them. Women will be disappointed because no matter how hard our husband and children seek to lavish us with praise, flowers, and gifts, there is always someone you know who was given much more than you.
Paltry baubles can’t compare to his precious blood.
We’re living under the law of Mother’s Day: If you’re good, you’ll get goodies. In the words of my daughter, “It’s the one day when I’m forced to look at either my own shortcomings (resulting in guilt) or the shortcomings of others who fail to appreciate me (resulting in discontent).” It’s the one day we’re told over and over that our identity as women is not rooted in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, but in our own ability to be the source of life and goodness for all, when we judge whether we’re finally OK based on the response of others rather than by the gospel of grace. Mother’s Day is the Law and that’s why it breeds such discontent and guilt.
NO HALLMARK CARDS FOR THE CRUCIFIXION
The source of true happiness is not found in being praised or anything we have ever done. True happiness is found in dying to ourselves and celebrating what Christ has already done for us.
True happiness is here: It is found in Jesus’ work. The best gift any woman (or man) has ever received was given on another Mother’s Day: this one was 2,000 years ago in a borrowed feeding trough when God was born and nursed at a young mother’s breast. It continued to be given some 30 years later when that perfect Son of Man was nailed to a tree and his Father turned away from him while his mother wept. No Hallmark cards or saccharine sentimentality for Jesus. Nothing. Just blood and despair and an anguished “It is finished” for us.
A BELOVED DAUGHTER, ABOVE ALL
Whatever happens this Sunday remember this: You are loved. You are forgiven. You are righteous. Not because of anything you can do, but only because of what Jesus has already done.
Go ahead and receive praise and gifts with a smile, but remember these paltry baubles aren’t anything in comparison to one drop of that precious blood. His work has made you his, and he has given you an eternal identity. You are his beloved daughter in whom he is well pleased.
Happy Daughter’s Day.
Thank you for being so truthful
Kathy Haecker says
Awesome, encouraging truth. Thank you for the reminder.
Nothing compares to the love of Christ. Surely every day is a day we’re told by ourselves, the world, or Satan to look away from our true identity in Christ…He Himself once said, gloriously, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.” I think Mother’s Day has a lovely intention. Russia has Women’s Day, which is pleasantly inclusive, on March 8th, maybe other countries could borrow that idea. But in Christ there is neither Jew or Greek, male nor female, so would that just be another identity-distraction for believers? For some, perhaps. Praise God for His steadfast love and faithfulness!!
Belle Unruh says
Hi Elise! I first met you on your family podcast, “Front Porch with the Fitzes.” How I love you and your family. You spoke about your new podcast, Worthy, and I started following it. It’s a wonderful, deeply spiritual podcast. I appreciate it very much. I just bought your book, Worthy, and think it is terrific. I didn’t know the word, “man”, included women. I never thought about how we were to rule the earth equally with our husbands. The best thing was realizing in being, “a helper,” to our husbands we are filling a lack in them.
As for your post here, I find once again how amazingly God works in our lives. I just listened this morning to a sermon by Timothy Keller on this very subject. I love how God doubles down on me about a subject he wants me to pay attention to. I realized after his sermon that still I do base my worth on what my family and others think about me. I don’t do it as strongly as I used to because God showed me about 5 years ago that I loved my daughters and grandchildren more than him. This surprised me. I thought I loved God above all others. But at one point, I felt they didn’t love me very much and became depressed and suicidal. God let me know I needed to direct my needs to him, which I did.
But one thing was bothering me these past few years. Because of the abuse and trauma I had as a child, I had social phobia. It has interfered with my hopes for my life. The last 10 years I have rarely left my home. I feel safe when I’m home. I recently asked God to help me feel comfortable around people. Previously, I had thought I was incurable, but I now think I was wrong. He has shown me today that I can understand why I am so afraid and what I can do about it. It isn’t just fear someone will hurt me, it is that I want to be loved, admired and esteemed. That is being self-centered. We can’t get all that acceptance from people, only God. Then our spirit is full and we need nothing else. I suppose I must believe God loves and esteems me. I find that so difficult.
Keller said Paul stated all our anger and fights comes from feeling we are not appreciated and loved enough. I thought about my husband, who got a bit angry last night. It was because one of our daughters said he didn’t understand something. He said, “Are you saying I’m too stupid and don’t know what I’m saying?” Yep, he and I need to get rid of those kind of reactions. Thanks Elise for all the laughs and spiritual help you have given me.
You’re welcome, friend. We’re all on the same pathway…learning to believe in His love for us. Every day.
Reina Page says
Hi, I had never heard of you until the day before yesterday and then this morning (UK) time, I looked you up on the internet to find out more about you. I am so pleased that The Holy Spirit directed me to both your church page and this one too. Moving on about this post, I have to admit I had never thought of Mothers Day in the way you described. This is I have to say my worst day of the year due to circumstances with my daughter (which is a long story) but anyways you definitely have caused me to think and yes you are 100% right in what you have stated here in you Blog Post.
Praise The Lord of Lords & King of Kings for using you in such a mighty and awesome way. I also look forward to getting to know you more through your blog.
Every blessing in Him
Paula Lee says
I’m reading this long after Mother’s Day. It is, in fact, almost the end of October and I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving. My birthday is coming up and I didn’t name the angst until I read this article. My son and his family are coming over to celebrate my birthday. I’m excited to be with them for an afternoon, but the tension inside me was evident and now that I understand why, I’m relaxed. Jesus deserves all my love and praise. I’m going to enjoy my family, and acknowledge that only Jesus deserves all the praise.