This week Project Pomegranate offers our “Prepare Yourselves, Mother’s Day is Coming” Blog series, noting how difficult the Mother’s Day season can be for those who have struggled with fertility grief. Welcome to Thursday’s blog post!
Watch for the June release of Project Pomegranate’s first book of devotions, Though the Darkness Gather Round!
Mother’s Day is simply hell for so many women, and so many men – yet many churches continue marching toward the day blindly, armed with carnations and a list of current mothers to stand and be recognized. For those who have lost a mother, this will be yet another reminder that there will be no visit with Mom this afternoon. For those that have, God forbid, lost a child, there simply are no words of comfort. They do not want to wear a carnation and stand and smile as if everything is fine. It isn’t.
And then there are those of us that sit silently in your pews yearning for a child, battling infertility. This day has been dreaded for weeks. Some of us will simply stay home, because our cracking armor can’t take another beating on Mother’s Day. And so, as Mother’s Day approaches let us ask ourselves: for whom will Mother’s Day be painful, and will our worship service make it more so?
And then let us consider how to make our services less painful. Instead of asking mothers to stand and be recognized (and in so doing, point a spotlight at those still seated), what if we affirmed the ways God mothers us, the ways we love and care for one another; what if we celebrate the family of God that we are?
The people hurting on Mother’s Day feel the pain every day, to be sure. The loss of a parent, the loss of a child, the pain of infertility: all are felt daily, moment by moment, like any grief. But, on Mother’s Day when this pain is so raw, we need to be sure to acknowledge it! Perhaps we feel we should not talk about sad things on this joyous day. Perhaps we are afraid that mentioning grief will detract from what Mother’s Day should be. But acknowledging this pain and joy together is simply a part of being in community together.
It might also allow some of us to say out loud what we are holding inside, to talk about the memories, the hopes, and yes the pain that is just below the surface today, especially. It might just allow us as a church community, as the family of God, to hold one another.
One of the most powerful Sundays I experienced at church was when I finally become upset enough to walk out of the service. I had just ended another unsuccessful in vitro cycle, and needed to be with my church family, so I went to church. But the liturgist uttered some nonsense about “ask and you will receive” and I might have cursed aloud on my way out of the sanctuary in the middle of worship. I had asked and asked, but had not received.
That morning, though I had felt completely alone, I was surrounded, in the ladies room, in the hallway, in coffee hour, even on the sidewalk outside, by loving arms. As I shared the pain we were living through, I allowed my church family to be God’s arms around me.
This year, let’s be the whole family of God, not just the happy, got-it-all-together faces we try to put on for one another. It’s messy, it’s sometimes uncomfortable, but it is so powerful to be honest out loud. To feel love, to give love, and to connect with one another, to celebrate that we are the whole family of God, those who mourn along with those who celebrate.
Let us lovingly acknowledge those who mother us and those who love us. But let us also acknowledge those who need our love on this day, especially. Look for ways to connect with one another, and feel free to download and use this Mother’s Day Litany, adapted from www.worshiphelps.org and published in Beating on the Chest of God; A Faith Journey Through Infertility by Rachel Whaley Doll. And let us know how your Mother’s Day went, we’re all in this together.