We are coming up on Mother’s Day. People expect a “Mother’s Day” sermon with a poem about a Mother’s love. Sometimes, that works. But there are many reasons why a “Mother’s Day Tribute” isn’t such a great idea. As I think about our congregation – I look out at people who are grieving. Their mother might have died recently – or 25 years ago. They think of Mother’s Day as a day to mourn. I see women who desperately wanted children but couldn’t have them. I see frazzled moms who would love a good night’s sleep. I see angry moms who can’t still the storm inside their hearts as they think of their children who didn’t live up to their expectations. I see people who were abused – physically, emotionally, or verbally - by mothers who thought this was the best way to parent. I see the woman who feels guilty for having an abortion, or the mother who neglected her children in favor of her career. I see mothers who bravely gave up their child so that child might have a better life. I see the faces of mothers who lost babies still in the womb or who lost children – at any age. I see hurt. Mother’s Day isn’t simple. It’s a complicated interwoven mess of emotions, stories, and heartache.
Mothers are people. We love them. We want to honor them (or their memory) and yet we know all too well their failures. When my Mom died, I wanted to say something at her funeral service. After all, I was a pastor! I got up and started to recall a funny story about my Mom. Then I burst into tears and ended up sobbing through the rest of the service. My Mom wasn’t perfect, but I loved her. She was creative and giving, but she had a temper. I remember the good days with her and have slowly forgotten the more difficult times. But Mother’s Day forces me to confront the good and bad memories. Why do we do that to ourselves? What do I need to do to let go of the past and put it in its proper perspective?
As a mother myself, I realize all of my own shortcomings. I love my daughters. I have always wanted what was best for them. I was a single Mom for most of their developing years. I didn’t have very much money. I had to go back to school in order to be ordained. I had to work as a student pastor while I was in seminary. It wasn’t easy. I put my congregations (I served a three point charge as a student) in front of my daughters at times. They had to move with me. It wasn’t a “normal” life by any means. I did the best I knew how to do. One of the things I did regularly was to pray for them and with them. I’d love to tell you that both my daughters turned out fine, but that’s not true. I have a “Prodigal Daughter,” who is always in my heart and prayers. My other daughter has a successful career and a sound marriage. She lives in California and because of the distance, I seldom see her in person. She is a very special woman and I’m proud of her. I don’t tell her that often enough. No matter what, this is my story of motherhood.
Rev. Bev Hall, pastor of Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church, Middleburg Heights, OH