Should we give flowers to all the mothers? It was an innocent question.
But it got so complicated.
Not that everyone involved in the wasn’t gracious. Everyone was. But the email thread got tangled.
Who Gets Flowers?
Maybe all the kids could hand the flowers out?
No, we’d better not. Some moms might get overlooked. That’s uncomfortable.
Plus, some who aren’t moms might be mistaken and get a flower, too. That’s awkward.
Besides,”Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Why heap gifts on the gifted?
The gift could hurt all the ladies who have longed to hear but never heard a child call them Mom.
And cause pain for mothers whose children are prodigal or gone.
And what about all the guys? (Dad’s Root Beer all around come June?)
Sometimes I struggle to show sympathy. That’s why my carnation reluctance surprised me.
But it’s these words-Let all you do be done in love– not the avoidance of discomfort-that should guide us. Comfort is overrated. Because the God who is love didn’t promise pain-free. The God of all comfort didn’t canonize comfortable.
Honor Your Mother
Every last one of us has a mother. So Mother’s Day is a holiday for all of us. We’re all called to honor our mothers. It might mean a grown child pauses to remember the good in a mom who is gone. And if Mom is with us, we let her know she’s valued. Honor is due.
Honor might mean carnations. It might mean a card or a call or a brunch. Or “one pass to the barbar and a bakrub,” unexpectedly came my way yesterday.
But some women deserve more than the honor that comes from being a mother. Sometimes special praise is due.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. That’s verses 30 and 31 of Proverbs 31.
Why should we praise a faithful lady?
Pastor John Piper offers some great reasons.
1) It honors God. We must not think here that in praising the woman we are giving to her what belongs to God. There is a sense in which all praise, just like all boasting (1 Corinthians 1:31), should be in the Lord. But since the Lord has made the world and is at work in us fallen creatures, it is possible to praise him indirectly by praising something he made or praising something that exalts him […]Therefore, when we praise a woman who fears the Lord, we praise God.
2) It strengthens her hand in the Lord. There are always temptations to allure us away from the fear of God: temptations to fear financial insecurity more than we fear God (cf. Proverbs 23:17), to fear rejection by our peers more than we fear God, to fear the loss of time spent in good deeds more than we fear God…Again and again we must have our hand strengthened in God. We need to hear a saintly person say, “Well done. I love the way you fear the Lord.”
So let’s hand out those carnations. But maybe flowers go to the mothers and some others.
To Mothers and Others
Because, Who really is my mother?
It turns out the Lord Jesus Christ—the Son of God, Son of Man—answered that, and in doing so, turned earthly relationships upside down.
And when his own mother and brothers asked to see him, Jesus said, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mothers and my brothers!’Matthew 12:48-49
Luke records this short exchange. In a way, it complicates my carnation conundrum even more.
“Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” a woman cried out to Jesus. And he turned and said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”Luke 11:27
What is this that Mary’s son says? Is he really saying what it sounds like he’s saying, that the obedient Christian— mother or not, married or not—is of mother status?
It does sound that way.
But back to the carnation conundrum. I wonder what Jesus would say.
Would Jesus Hand Out Flowers?
If Christ would weigh in our Mother’s Day thread, do you think it might sound something like this?
- Mothers, be thankful. Honor your mother. Be glad in the kids I gave you and treasure good things in your heart. Savor your role as Keeper of the Springs. Always be leaning into me, abiding in me. Feed on my Word. Their eyes are wide-open, watching everyday, so live like you need me. Show your kids that you know you are not their Savior. But live so they want to know yours. Help them want to know me.
- Others, be thankful. Honor your mother. But, my child, if you are childless, know that there is a better name than sons and daughters. Our Father’s-family grows through faith in me. The bonds you have to me and my Body, the Church, are stronger and tighter, more permanent and more precious even than family ties. Marriage is temporary. Whatever state you’re in, remain in me.
- Mothers, one last word to you. It is your day, after all. Be sure you know my better name, the sweeter name than Mom. Keep your heart-eyes clear to see motherhood as the sweet gift, and terrible God that it is. Don’t idolize your kids. A sensitive son or devoted daughter can never deliver the forever satisfying joy found only in me. So come to me. Keep coming to me.
And when disrespect and complaining cut you deep and when sweet “bakrubs and barbar” treatment comes, your prayer can stay the same: Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).
Far as the Curse is Found
We’re all wounded. Whet—mothers and daughters and fathers and sons, single and married and adopted and orphaned—all of us wounded. Sin stains, disease maims, and words do hurt. The curse is still found far.
Far into lonely hearts of singles and aching arms of the post-abortive, the empty wombs of the infertile and broken hearts of moms of prodigals. It reaches into broken hearts of grieving moms who never saw their kids grow up and into wounded hearts of grown up kids whose moms never got to see them all growed-up. The Fall reaches far.
Its long reach means even a carnation can hurt.
There is no pain-free, awkward-less solution this side of heaven. A sword will pierce your own heart, Simeon said. Mary watched her Son die. And when he rose, he went away.
On Mother’s Day, I wonder if mother Mary’s son and Savior might say to all of us for whom this day brings some pain, I know. It’ll be okay. okay. One day it’ll all be swallowed up. Until then, praise the ones who fear me and honor your mother on Mother’s Day.
A carnation just might be a splendid way.