On Mother’s and grace

Mother’s day crept in slowly for me this year…

I sit in the early hours and think about how I do not have a single maternal bone in me.

If I were to be honest, I’d tell you I wish I were more gentle. Gentle with myself, gentle with others and especially more gentle to this small life that was entrusted to me, before I had been given a chance to understand the mammoth task that lay ahead.

These days very few words are thrown around the house, they are greetings in places, since the house is too small for complete solitude, they are closed doors and brief glimpses through quick meals. I’m not sure exactly how I got through my teen years or if I made it to the other side. It’s an eerie place, filled with silence, questions, confusion and secrets.

Mother’s day finds me expectant and I’m not sure exactly what I had in mind this year, feeling nostalgic for those younger years I guess, awaiting a thank you, a hug? I feel I don’t deserve any of these. I silently talk myself out of it and read, I’ve been reading to escape, I’ve been reading anything and everything, because when I’m left with my own thoughts my most lingering thought is this…

Only good mother’s/sisters deserve appreciation on Mother’s Day, mother’s who unlike me: praise instead of criticize, who embrace instead of break apart, who listen long, who stay even longer, who mend and pull close. Yes, Mother’s who choose words carefully and resort more to silence. Not me, I fail miserably on all counts, a sister parading as a mother, trudging along in shoes too big to fill.

So I sit and replay every possible mistake I’ve made, defending each action with this lousy truth; “well atleast I kept her alive” as if life is worth any living when your tyrant older sister is with you all day at home, caring more about clean dishes and neat rooms than all the breaking and strangeness of teen life and the one you can’t escape at school either, demanding stellar marks and good behavior.

I get it, I wouldn’t be my biggest fan either, but somewhere in my pity party and self loathing on this crazy day, having not heard any form of thank you and this confirming my fears, my fear of how badly I’m doing, I’m met with this…

I’m reminded of a few parts of a Psalm, one I find so deeply moving I etched it deep on the side of my ring finger… Barely visible but there, a lifeline on days like this, when my mind is a blizzard of deep regret, this scripture is all that keeps me steady… Psalm 103:8-12

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

I read this and my heart soars….
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There is a merciful God who looks down at all of us, he looks at all we can’t seem to get right, all we could never possibly mend and all the words we wish we could take back. He is not shouting down words of destruction and shame, rather he is gracious, HE IS always gracious. He is slow to anger. Where we have sat and built walls of protection around our most unloving deeds, rummaging through the depths of our pain, he tears it from our hands and minds and whispers right in crevices of our broken hearts “as far as east is from the west…” these two sides that never meet, that is how far he has removed our transgressions from us… helping us lean in and helping us love like he loves…

So here is permission for you this Mother’s Day, and beyond, to release all of what you’re holding on to. To run wild into the arms of the One that is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast and immovable love… for the broken especially for the broken, the broken Mamas still finding their way, the trying Mamas still navigating this crazy journey and all the Mamas in the in-betweens, who are not fully sure where they are yet…

You deserve more than one day to be told that you are loved, that you are seen. I hope you know that you serve a God who is not distant or unaware, but is working everything, even your shaky attempt at mothering together for your good…

Dear God,

I pray for each tired, brave and shame prone mama reading this, I pray you blanket them with your sweet embrace, I pray you help them everyday to remember, that you’re full of mercy, full of grace and slow to anger, keep them close and keep them afloat. Help them do this impossible task, made possible only through grace, your grace alone Lord. Help them to be better Lord, kinder, all for the glory of your name.

Wherever this finds you sweet friend, at whichever age your child may be? Whether you’re a real mama, or playing the role of one, with the little that you know, hold on desperately to these words. The words of Psalm 103 that remind you who God is… I pray you always remain gentle with yourself, so very gentle…

Life is Art