I have a love hate relationship with those fill-in-the-blank Mother’s Day surveys kids bring home from school. You know the ones…My mom loves to: let me watch TV. My mom weighs: 17 pounds. My mom is really good at: ordering things on Amazon. My favorite thing my mom cooks is: Pop-Tarts.
While I do get a kick out of their responses, my laughter is laced with more insecurity than I would like to admit. I would prefer if the blanks read more like a stimulating afternoon of crafts and books while grazing on grass-fed charcuterie. But truth be told, both of those scenarios and everything in between have occurred in our family at one time or another and all of them are a poor way to define motherhood.
Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, work-from-home, or stay-at-home mom, much of our mental, emotional and physical energy is spent on all the “mom things.” And depending on the season of motherhood, that can look like diapers, sports practices, pre-algebra, temper tantrums, curfew—or all of these within the span of five minutes. But here’s what we share in common: we never get to “un-be” a mom. We may be able to take breaks from the actions of motherhood, but we never, ever get a break from being a mom—it’s a forever part of our makeup. As a result, I believe we moms are vulnerable to being crushed, ruled, and therefore defined by the things of motherhood. That’s why the answers in those blanks hold a lot of power…we let them name us. We let them become our identity.
I love God’s natural order. Biologically speaking, we must all be daughters before it’s even possible to be parents. All women—single, married, divorced, widowed, mother or not—are all daughters. And both the scientific and spiritual reality is that a child can’t exist without a Father. For those of us in Jesus, this is good news! God the Father is both the origin and answer to every one of our fill-in-the-blank questions. He made us, we are his, we uniquely reveal and reflect his image, and we have all the rights and privileges of his child, including the intimacy of calling him our Daddy. Romans 8:15 says:
“For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry. “Abba, Father!”
Notice Paul doesn’t use the word “daughter” or even the gender neutral, “child.” He deliberately uses the word “son.” I think as women, we fear considering ourselves as sons betrays our gender or strips us of our femininity, but I would argue that we miss out on a rich nuance if we fail to consider its cultural context. In Jewish culture, the firstborn son received distinct privileges:
“He [the father] must acknowledge the firstborn . . . and give him a double share in all that he possesses, for he is the first fruits of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” (Deuteronomy 21:7)
Culturally speaking, in Biblical times a special love and unique status defined the firstborn son. Children of God, because Jesus is the firstborn son and because we are united to him, no matter our earthly birth order or gender, that’s us. We receive a forever intimacy and presence with God that “will never perish, spoil or fade” (I Peter 1:4). That’s our identity. In God’s economy, we are named and defined as firstborn sons with all the rights and privileges that accompany that status. When I let God the Father define me, and not motherhood, I’m safe. Simultaneously free and secure. Free to offer from my identity versus for it—because, really, choosing between Pop-Tarts and charcuterie boards isn’t the issue; it’s my heart. And when my heart feels settled in my sonship, then I’m free to worship God instead of my children.
I received the best gift last Mother’s Day. Instead of a survey, my second grader brought home a fill-in- the-blank poem. The directions were to complete this phrase: The most important thing about my mom is__________. His answer? “That she’s my mom.” And you know what? I wept. I wept because I really do think it’s that simple. My son acknowledged my status. My name. Our relationship. Oh, the freedom in the immutable reality of who God is and who I am: He’s my daddy and I’m his beloved child.
So this Mother’s Day, may I, may you, may we embrace our sonship status and worship the good Father who not only named us, but secured our identity with his life, death, and resurrection…our fill-in-the-blank answer is written in blood and our names are engraved on the nail-scarred palm of his hand.
About the Author:
Meg is a southeastern nomad, claiming Jackson, Mississippi and now Birmingham, Alabama as home. She loves working with middle school students during a summer academic camp through a partnership with Urban Hope PCA in Fairfield, Alabama. She and her husband, Brian, are members of Oak Mountain Presbyterian where Meg serves on the Women’s Shepherding Team. They enjoy cheering for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Dallas Cowboys with their two sons.