To the Women With Aching Arms on Mother’s Day

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It’s Mother’s Day weekend. It’s a weekend celebrated with Facebook posts, sticky hugs and kisses, and cute handprint cards. There will be recognition at churches across the country on the virtues of motherhood, honoring a tribe of women who make the world go round.

Smiles and sunshine abound, but you look from the outside in with achy arms. This day magnifies the pain inside instead of the love. They’re handing out flowers to all the mothers, and part of you wants to take one, still you hesitate. What will people think?

The waiter at the restaurant says, “Happy Mother’s Day.” You smile in reply, but it doesn’t reach your eyes. You feel the need to explain.

This post is to you.

Your arms ache for the child you’ve never held. Expensive and invasive fertility treatments failed, or weren’t an option. In this world full of neglected and abused children you beg God to tell you why, you who long to cradle a child more than you want to breathe, have empty arms.

The adoption fell through. You sit in the middle of a decorated nursery that won’t be filled by the child you wanted so dearly, that your heart had already claimed.

You’re the mother that aches for the child that you carried, but didn’t get to keep. A prickle goes through your feet when they call the mothers in the church to stand. You want to reach for the flower handed to all the mothers. Do they count you? Do they remember?  You take a deep breath and stand to take the flower so no one forgets the precious little love, whose life you planned from the moment you knew they grew inside of you.

You are the mother who sits down at the restaurant with your children, and there’s an empty seat. The waiter says, “My what a beautiful family.” You attempt a smile and swallow tears. The words jump behind closed lips. You hold back, not wanting to wipe the practiced smile off the waiter’s face. Would this smiling young man understand that motherhood is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body? Would he see that it doesn’t feel right to still be alive ever since that piece stopped beating?

Perhaps you are the mother of a prodigal child. Or, your grown children live on the other side of the world. You long for the little moments gone by. There is a mother across the room juggling her squirming toddler, her face flushed because he is being loud. She doesn’t even know there is a grape sucker hanging from her hair. You wish you could be her again. Does she appreciate the way she can protect her child from the ugliness of this world? Does she recognize she won’t be able to do that forever?

Maybe you are the woman sitting on the church pew, an enemy of two camps. Pro-choice won’t claim you. You will not be their poster child.  You know the lie. They told you it would be quick and painless, but every Mother’s Day you calculate the age that baby would have been. You can’t tell your pro-life friends. Even if you tried to explain how scared and alone you were, how it seemed the only way, would they hear your pain? You look across the room at your friend, her eyes red rimmed. She’s tried to get pregnant for years. Shame washes over, and you sit in silence. Even though your head knows the grace of Jesus, you wonder, does he really forgive everything?

Women with aching arms, I write to you to say God sees.

God sees. God Sees. God Sees. You are loved.

El Roi: The God Who Sees Me

This name of God is found in only one place in scripture, given by a runaway pregnant woman in the desert.  Hagar wouldn’t have found a greeting card to fit her situation. Fleeing the cruelty of jealous Sarai, carrying a child conceived because of Abram’s wavering trust in God, the servant Hagar is met by the stream by an angel of the Lord. He doesn’t let her wander off the pages of history. He sees her pain and pursues her. Hagar names her child “God Hears” and calls God “The God Who Sees Me.”

On this Mother’s Day, know that God sees and hears for the purpose of pursuing your heart. He gave you the ‘Mama Love’ that is inside of you. You might not fit the greeting card version of a mother. Don’t let that stop you. This world needs your mother’s love, that nurtures and fosters growth and comfort. I pray that you would find outlets for this love that throbs in your chest, and that doors would open, and hearts would find healing. I pray that though you may have no words to express the hurt, you would rest in the fact that God sees you right where you are.

I don’t pretend to understand your specific situation or the ache in your heart, but I asked Jesus to let me glimpse, to let me feel, so that I could write and tell you that I love you, that He loves you, and He is the God who sees.

Happy Mother’s Day.


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