I grew up in a church that publicly honored mothers on Mother’s Day. At the entrance to the sanctuary, they placed a box of little carnations to be pinned on the blouses of women with children as a sort of badge of honor. During the welcome, the pastor would ask all of the mothers to stand. It is right to honor mothers. So much of their sacrificial work is performed in middle of the night moments or behind closed doors, and it is good to affirm their efforts, stirring them up to love and good deeds when they may be tempted to feel as if no one sees or their work doesn’t matter.This ritual to honor mothers was certainly a help to me growing up. My selfish childish heart needed to consider all the ways that my own mother laid down her life for our family and to thank her for it. I remember feeling proud of my mom as she stood during the public acknowledgement of mothers. I also wondered why she always cried, and I remember seeing that most of the women cried during this part, seated and standing alike. Despite all of the beautiful opportunity that this holiday offers to affirm the role of mothers, it can also be a trigger, exacerbating deep seeded pain in those with children and those without. For this reason, Mother’s Day provides the church not only with an opportunity to “see” the unseen work of mothers, but to acknowledge the unseen pain of all women, caring for them by reminding them that our God is El Roi, the God who sees.
Have you ever sat in a waiting room, your heart beating hard, walking through the many “What-if’s” of that space:
What if it’s cancer?
What if my loved one can never drive again, play tennis again, kiss me again?
What if…my loved one loses her job?
What if…my loved one has six months to live?
Whether you are the caregiver or the patient, the “what-if’s” of the waiting room can feel terrifying, and the wait can feel agonizing.
When our twenty-two-year-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor while my eighty-one-year-old father was dying of cancer, I sat in many varied waiting rooms. During seemingly endless spells in such uncomfortable spaces, I began to wonder—what if—this space could make space for another, better kind of waiting?
It was the answer to prayer I didn’t want to get. It was not only disappointing—it was costly.
It was one of those life situations that getting the answer I wanted would have had no grand effect on the universe, but have made my life (and my family’s life) quite lovely. Time, prayer, wise counsel, and careful planning had all gone into setting the stage. The answer I wanted would have allowed me to honor God in so many ways. The correct answer to my prayer was obvious, and I couldn’t wait to receive my blessing from the Lord’s hand.
But the answer that seemed so right never materialized. I felt as though God had failed me even though I had done everything right. I prepared for a season of action, yet God had me continue in this season of waiting. In between the sharp pains of disappointment, questions swirled like brittle leaves on a blustery day. Why had it turned out this way? Why did I have to suffer? Didn’t God care?