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.