Beyond ‘Mom’: Celebrating Women of God
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
This Sunday (May 13) is Mother’s Day, a day that used to have one meaning for me: an opportunity to make my mom feel loved and cherished in gratitude for enduring a twelve-hour labor with no pain medication and then raising me, a precocious, bookish girl, to maturity.
But like so many things over the years, this day has evolved. Today, not only do I celebrate my own mother, but also my equally outstanding mother-in-law, my sister and sister-in-law, my stepmother, my aunt, and my grandmothers (here on earth and in heaven). And, of course, my husband and four kiddos—two biological, two “bonus” courtesy of our blended family—celebrate me, too, which always seems entirely unnecessary but very, very sweet to experience as they gather homemade cards and crafts in my honor.
And yet I can’t stop there, for I also celebrate the other women in our world… my children’s stepmom and my stepchildren’s mom, both loving, strong people who adore those kids and help shape them into the great people they are becoming. I also embrace and appreciate all the other women who influence my kids right along with me. I might carry the title “mom,” but we all work together in this: their brilliant and compassionate teachers, their ministry leaders at our church, the moms in our small group Bible study who pray for our flock daily, my other mom-friends in our neighborhood who take turns with me in caring and loving on all our kids for playdates, carpooling, and sleepovers.
They say it takes a village; I say they’re right.
While I’m blessed to have a wonderful biological mother who is a Christian, many of my friends have mothers who have already passed on—and others have it far worse: Their mothers are not women of faith. Some are addicts, driven by a demon and looking to fill the proverbial hole with anything but God. Some, whether from fear or circumstance, have left their children behind. Some are in prison. Some they haven’t talked to in years.
Sadly, I also have friends who are adoptive and foster moms but not fully comfortable with their role; they feel like “false moms” (they most certainly are not!). Others struggle with infertility, like I once did, or have decided for a variety of reasons that birthing children is not something they intend to do, yet the holiday still haunts them.
Where I live, there’s a place, Epworth Children’s Home, that has chosen not to celebrate “Mother’s Day” at all but rather “Women’s Day.” Their director said Mother’s Day at Epworth does not bring smiles and pleasant memories but is often a reminder of broken promises and shattered dreams. So instead, they focus on what it means to be a woman in the eyes of God.
Here’s the thing: “Mother” is not an identity. And while it’s a lovely thing to take a day to celebrate the woman who birthed us or the women who helped shape us, in reality, our children are not “ours” but God’s—and we are not “mothers” first but rather “children of God.”
In fact, as a Christian, if I’m truly honoring my Savior, I’d do well to keep that open-ended concept of family in mind.
In Matthew 12, Jesus was teaching God’s word to a large crowd when someone told Him that His mother and brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to Him.
“(Jesus) replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:48-50, NIV).
Family isn’t mere biology or bloodlines. When we toss aside the mantle of the world and instead choose to follow Christ, we not only gain a new life, but also a new family. We are no longer daughters and sons of flesh and blood but children of the Risen God. Our parent is God, and our siblings are all who walk alongside us in faith.
Happy Mother’s Day, then, and Happy Women’s Day…to God, to my mom, and to women of faith everywhere.
Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.
She is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate (AdvocateSC.org), the oldest continuously published newspaper in Methodism.
Learn more about her fiction and read her blog at http://jessicabrodie.com/.