If you know me, this article is for you. If you’ve ever discovered my arrogant heart by teaching me or disagreeing with me, this is for you. In a more general sense, if you’ve ever tried to collaborate with or constructively critique another person, and they lacked the teachability or humility...
Flowers. Jewelry. Breakfast in bed. A trip to the nail salon. A sentimental card. Dinner out. Many of us have some sort of idea of how we would like to be celebrated on Mother’s Day.
We spend most of our days wiping noses, changing poopy diapers, rising at our middle-of-the-night summons, hoisting children in and out of car seats and on and off the toilet, driving the shuttle, cooking, laundering, cleaning up all kinds of messes, and putting ourselves last to make sure that the needs of our families are met.
But not Mother’s Day. Shouldn’t Mother’s Day be a day about us?
The one day of the year when we should be able to put up our feet and be served? The one day of the year when someone else should take over and pour out praise for all the thankless tasks we perform every other day of the year?
Exposing Our Selfish Hearts
It’s uncomfortable to admit, but I bring plenty of expectations to the table for this holiday. My chosen method for guarding my heart is to remind my husband several weeks in advance that Mother’s Day is coming and present him with a list of not-so-subtle “options” to ensure the day is special.
While some of them feel a little less self-serving than others, the demand for quality time isn’t any more noble than the desire for gifts or pampering. The fact that this list exists at all reveals a lot about my heart.
[Tweet “When motherhood feels like slavery, remember: Jesus gives us what we need in himself.”]
Our expectations give Mother’s Day an exposing power. While we may claim that we selflessly pour out all year, the way we approach this day reveals the desires of our hearts. Perhaps those desires are uncovered by reactions to a lack of attention or recognition or, for those of us with more type-A spouses or doting children, by our lack of humility in being honored well.
If we are honest, for many of us, Mother’s Day uncovers the true object of our worship—self. It lays bare the self-seeking motives behind the performance of our “selfless” daily tasks. It exposes the true cry of our hearts to be, “I deserve glory, honor, and praise.”
Although it is written in possessive form, Mother’s Day doesn’t belong to us any more than any other day does. Each day is the day the Lord has made, created by him and prepared in advance with good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). And what good work can we perform apart from abiding in him (John 15:5)? What title or task can we obtain for ourselves that he does not bestow? Did we become mothers by opening our own wombs, or that of our child’s birth mother?
He alone is the author and sustainer of life (Psalm 139). For any child’s life, for any task done well, God alone is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise.
Exposing Our Lack of Understanding
Christianity is a race to the bottom. Jesus teaches his followers that whoever would be great among us must be a servant, and whoever desires to be first must be a slave of all (Mark 10:43-44). This is excellent news for the days when motherhood feels like slavery. Because even Jesus himself, with his pure motives and perfect righteousness, came not to be served, but to serve.
The posture of a believer’s heart every day of the year should be, “I exist to serve. It’s my delight to tend to the needs of my children and husband. Not for their sakes, but for the sake of my faithful Savior, who is always serving me.” Joining with John the Baptist, we say, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
If that doesn’t sound anything like the posture of your heart this Mother’s Day, be encouraged. Motherhood, and the service it necessitates, offers richly-tilled soil in which the Lord can cultivate humility.
There is so much grace available to us. Grace to save and grace to change.
Exposing Our Misplaced Hope
Moment by moment, as our hearts are revealed in our reactions, our great High Priest stands ready to intercede for us as we confess our false motives and repent of our grumbling attitudes.
More than we need flowers or jewelry, our souls need the gift of lasting peace and rest that comes from receiving that assurance of pardon (Matthew 11:28-30). More than we need to be refueled by time alone or a spa treatment, we need the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead (which lives within us), empowering us to serve with glad hearts for the glory of God alone (Romans 8:11). More than we need breakfast in bed or dinner out, we need to feast on the Word of God, our daily bread, which thoroughly equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).
And on the days we feel unappreciated and unseen, more than we need a card with accolades and praise from our families, we need to hear the benedictions of our Father in heaven who sees and knows all, like whom we become more and more in service and suffering, and who we will one day rejoice to hear speak, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
May our desire to be near him and like him make us glad to serve. May we look to him alone for everything we need to carry out the tasks to which he has called us. And may the cry of our hearts this Mother’s Day, and every day, be, “You alone are worthy of all glory, honor, and praise!”