We live in a culture that is, often times, in direct opposition to God's way and God's Word. It is a culture and world that is focused on all the wrong things. Finding happiness and contentment in fleeting earthly pleasures rather than things eternal. It's our nature really. This flesh. Paul said it best when he said we know better, yet we still want the wrong things, long for the wrong things, and do the wrong things.
And, here's thing, God wants us to enjoy life. He desires that we should receive His good gifts with grateful hearts, soaking in the pleasure that comes from them. His Word says that He desires to give good gifts to His children. He desires that we live full lives.
Yet, He also desires for us to live life in surrender to Him. He desires that we understand that an abundant joy-filled life does not come from having an easy, put together, all the right things kind of life.
Rather, it is a heart that says, I understand I am most blessed when I am broken before God. I am most blessed when I mourn and grieve over the sin that fills my heart, and - through grace- strive to live in a way that honors Him. I am most happy and content when I humble myself and my position - when I serve and give generously to others around me. Blessed am I when "my hope is found in nothing else, but Jesus Christ".
These Hallmark holidays like Mother's Day and others challenge this in so many ways. Is there anything that so perfectly speaks to this beast inside of us? The beast that says to be happy, to celebrate, to fit in - I must be like you and you must be like me. And may nothing ostracize us from the other.
Mother's Day, while having a good purpose, can create pain for many. As much as it is, for many, a reminder of the joy and graciousness of God in our lives - it is, for many, a reminder of loss, sorrow, and even shame. And, for many (like myself) it is a reminder of deep pain, yet great joy. A reminder of loss, yet God's miraculous redemption and restoration. Which is wonderful. But overall, for me, it is bittersweet. It's hard to feel these deep varying emotions.
I am simply saying we just need to be aware, be sensitive.
We need to give care and understanding.
With good intentions-our church's are the worst. We should know better. We expect the schools, the stores, and Hollywood to fall prey to this obsession of a cultural holiday that celebrates only what you have-and forces the mourning of what you do not. It saddens me that we could possibly cause pain in our church services, because we insist on celebrating and recognizing a holiday that has nothing to do with the core of the Gospel. Sure, Christ said to honor your parents. And we should-each day-respect, love, and honor our parents. But that really doesn't have much to do with our corporate worship. Recognizing the moms in our congregation is not really necessary to our worship to God on Sunday morning. It's just a thing we do. And if this thing that we just do out of tradition and sentimentality could potentially hurt or cause pain - I am not sure it is worth it. Please understand I say this - not out of judgement - just out of an awareness of my own experiences and the awareness of the raw emotional pain of many dear friends and family. If your church, as mine did, recognized Mother's Day...there is no need to be ashamed or to criticize. I am sure for most, as mine was, it was done with grace and sensitivity. At least I hope so. These are just some things to reflect on.
Are we feeding the cultural lie that we must have to not lack?
How many of us fight envy and bitterness, because we do not have what everyone is saying we should have on this special day? How many of us feel a little less than simply because we cannot celebrate with joy a day like Mother's Day?
How many of us have learned not to have any expectations on a day like today-lest we be disappointed and hurt again?
How many of us are tempted to stay home, to downplay any celebrations because what is missing is too noticeable and too big to face?
Peter Scazzero (author of "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality") suggests that we often create illusions and pretense that blind us to the limits of earthly pleasures. And, that's what it really comes down to doesn't it?
On a day like today, we forget the limits of earthly pleasures, and fall prey to the illusion that we are or our lives are less than if we only have reason to grieve rather than celebrate. That somehow we are less fortunate, less blessed, and just less.
If today you have reason to celebrate, then by all means, celebrate the gifts you have. Embrace it fully. Let it soak in. But, please, remember that our true joy and contentment-our unwavering hope is found in Christ alone. And that has nothing to do with Mother's Day.
If today you have reason to grieve. If, like me, today is bittersweet because of the loss that today represents - than know that God sees you, He knows you, and is with you in your pain. He longs for you to know His hope and joy. He wraps arms of comfort around you. For in our deepest sense of loss and pain, true healing is found. And no matter what this day or any other day brings, we are more than blessed by the blood and grace that covers all lack.
God, remind us always - in your grace - that true contentment, hope, celebration, joy, and more is found in you alone.