By Cyndee Ownbey
It’s that time of year again where women’s ministry teams begin making plans to assist with the Mother’s Day service at their church.
You may be asked to
- provide a small gift for all moms;
- share a special prayer; or
- offer a blessing or word of encouragement.
As you prayerfully approach the task you’ve been given, I want to humbly ask you to keep in mind the women in your church that dread your Mother’s Day service. You might even be one of them.
Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many women. In your church, there are women struggling with infertility that want nothing more than to cradle a newborn baby in their arms. Some women are single yet long for marriage and children. Some women are grieving a baby that has been miscarried. There are single moms not living the life they had hoped. Some women have buried their children. Others are estranged from theirs. Some women have strained relationships with their mothers where reconciliation seems all but impossible. Celebrating only the joy of motherhood may pour salt in their gaping wound.
Last fall, I had the opportunity to interview my friend and author Thelma Nienhuis on ministering to women facing infertility as part of the Ministry to Women Summit. During our conversation, we talked about Mother’s Day. I asked for advice on how to honor mothers while being sensitive to those who are not.
Thelma reminded me that some women might choose to stay home from church on Mother’s Day because it hurts too much. As leaders, we can be sensitive to a woman’s need to remove herself from a situation that would be painful. And if she is a friend, a short “I’m thinking of you” text can let her know we care.
Thelma suggested finding a way to honor all women on that day. A printed format (such as a bulletin insert) can be a wonderful way to acknowledge the wide range of feelings from celebration and grief that women in your congregation may be experiencing. Thelma shared a poem with me called “The Wide Spectrum of Mothering.” The author speaks to the different seasons, emotions, and roles of biological and spiritual mothers. You may want to ask if your church staff will include it in their handouts on Mother’s Day.
Thelma also suggested showing extra sensitivity in the morning’s prayers from the pulpit. Your church staff might unknowingly overlook those in your congregation who need to know they are not alone in their grief, hurt, or pain. (It’s not just the women who are hurting; men are too.) Pray out loud for those for whom Mother’s Day is painful and not just a day of celebration.
This Mother’s Day, as you seek to celebrate motherhood, I pray the Lord will show you and your church leadership how also to honor those for whom this is a difficult day.
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