When It's Not A Happy Mother's Day

Every year I stand in front of the Mother's Day card section of my local Target, I find myself looking for the most light-hearted, humorous card. The one least weighed down with wordy sentiments related to a mother being a daughter's best friend or anything of that sort. A card that was funny enough, passes the test enough to fulfill what often feels like an obligatory card-giving holiday of the year.

Though my own mother and I get along just fine in recent years, my childhood and even into young adulthood memories were not the greatest and quite honestly, were rooted from a very strained relationship with my mom. And Mother's Day sometimes brings up old memories of a past hurt and even a sense of grieving for a childhood that has long been gone and can not be re-done or changed.

It's so hard to honestly state this when you are practically drowning in a sea of  messages graced with pink flowers, mother-daughter stories pouring generously through your Facebook feed, and a card section of Target that only sell cards with "my mother is my BFF" kind of messages. The moment I stepped into church on Sunday, I braced myself for what I was expecting to be a cheesy message of Jesus' mother or stories of other women who had served as mothers. I mentally made a note to dash out quickly after service had ended just so I wouldn't have to push through the crowds of "Happy Mother's Day" greetings surrounding me and having to answer what special Mother's Day plans I had for the day with my own mom when really, I just wanted to safely hide in my cynicism and pain.

But instead of allowing me the comfort of my hiding place, I was greeted with a surprise that I didn't even know my heart needed so badly. As much as I shrank back wanting to cry, God instead reached through the huge crowd on Mother's Day, took my hurt with a hand that was so understanding of my struggle, and lovingly invited me to give Him my pain. All of it. The pain inflicted from a childhood I wished I never experienced. The pain of hurtful words. The pain of the loneliest and darkest times where I wished I never experienced as a child, a teenager, a young adult.

He knew what I needed and instead of faking an obligatory happiness on Mother's Day, He gave me love and what I needed the most on a day that is difficult for me.

God allowed me to grieve, to cry for a childhood lost.

Instead of a message filled with what I thought was going to be an overdose of Mother's Day cheesiness I would need to grit my teeth and survive through, Sunday's sermon was filled with the heart-wrenching truth that for some of us, Mother's Day is hard.

Some because they've lost their moms, have lost a child, or have lost a childhood to a parent that has hurt us. Hearing this message was a like a much-needed salve to a bad cut in my heart that I am sometimes ashamed to admit is there.

I was given the freedom to hurt. I was reminded that though I was hurt emotionally by mother, she is imperfect and was bound to make mistakes, as will I if and when I ever become a mom myself. I was reminded that I am imperfect. And the beautiful hope I rest my struggles on is the fact that God redeems for imperfect people like my mom and me. That the finality of my story isn't determined from a rough childhood or the darkest moments littered throughout my upbringing, but from a perfect and loving God who continues to breathe life into the moments in my life that seem the most painful and dead.

I write this post with a bit of a tear in my eye because I just know that I am not the only one who struggles with holidays that ask us to honor our imperfect parents. And I hope that you find encouragement in knowing that it is ok to hurt and to wrestle with this hurt.

He knows your pain, anger, and sadness, just as much as he knew mine walking into a Sunday service. And as He reached through a crowd for me, I know for a fact He is reaching through a crowd for you, too.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the Spirit of the Lord is 
Chains are broken
Eyes are open
Christ is with us

 - Hillsong

Happy Monday - here's to hope.