by Tim Pauls
This is for you, Mom, because motherhood isn’t easy.
Motherhood is a holy office. It has God’s blessing, plus a lot of sacrificial labor.
After all, you’re the one who takes care of the kids as only the mother can. You gave birth to them in the first place, and you’ve been feeding them from the start. You’ve had the constant task of cleaning them up, whether they’ve wandered off in their Sunday best and rolled in the nearest muck, or projected something foul from the inside to the outside. You’ve taught them how to walk, how to talk and how not to use bad words. You’ve been all about training and discipline, about making sure they make good use of their waking hours and that they rest well. Whenever you can, you serve them the best food possible.
It’s a calling that doesn’t end. Even when the kids are all grown up, you still pray for them boldly and faithfully.
And with all that, you go under-appreciated a lot. If you kids are like most, they probably take all you do for granted — except maybe for a springtime Sunday and a birthday celebration (if they remember). And in the meantime, while you’re doing your best to raise them, you never seem to run out of people trying to tell you how to do it better.
I’m fairly certain that someone will take offense at what I’ve said above. Some will convince themselves that I believe that raising children (toxic diapers and all) is solely the mother’s job, to be done while the father is busy playing golf. Others may read this and think that I believe that all fathers are irresponsible jerks who won’t lift a finger to raise their children because they’re too busy playing golf.
Neither is true. I’ve written what I’ve written for two reasons. The first is that this week, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day, not Father’s Day.
The second is that — (surprise!) — perhaps I’m not only talking about motherhood in the earthly sense of the word. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve also been writing about the Church, the Bride of Christ, “the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26; 2 John 1).
There’s a reason why the work of moms and the work of the church have so many parallels — and why Martin Luther, in his Large Catechism, calls the church “the mother that conceives and bears every Christian through God’s Word” (LC 2:42). See, since the office of “wife” is given by God to illustrate the Church in Her relationship to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24, 31-32); and since, most properly, it is wives who bear children and are mothers; then the office of “mother” is given to illustrate the church as well. A mom’s sacrificial love for her child thus reminds us of the Church’s care for sinners, and the Church’s care for sinners displays a maternal love that is both tender and firm.
The work mothers do in raising children is indispensable. On Mother’s Day especially, we acknowledge the truth of it. In addition, however, we as Christians also recognize that moms by their very labors are given the privilege of illustrating the love that Christ shows us through his bride, the Church. This reality adds even greater honor to the vocation of motherhood.
Thanks for all your service, moms. Thanks for your love for your kids and your gentle reminder of the Church. God grant you every good gift in your blessed, demanding calling.
And Happy Mother’s Day.
Tim Pauls serves as the pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho