Whoops. I’ve screwed this up, haven’t I? Yup. Must have missed the memo. Or had a momentary lapse in concentration.
Apparently, I am rostered on to serve at church this Mother’s Day.
OK, I know it doesn’t sound like the crime of the century. Or any kind of crime at all. The fact remains I have agreed to attend church on a day where I normally avoid church like the dentist.
I have agreed to attend church on a day where I would normally avoid church like the dentist.
I have nothing against my church. No issues with them at all. I have issues with Mother’s Day, specifically the glorification of motherhood, and the way it shreds my childless heart. So I normally skip this day entirely—or spend it engaged in some form of hard-core self-care. As much as I love serving at church (and I do), it’s not exactly my idea of sheltering and self-care.
That’s why, when I realised I would be serving on Mother’s Day, I had a big ‘Whoops’ moment.
Honestly, I am not even sure why churches celebrate this secular event. We don’t do the same for Valentine’s Day (or, at least, I hope not), so why this endless talk of mothering (and fathering) stuff? Can’t we just talk about Jesus, and not risk excluding a significant portion of our church? Or is that too much to ask?
Can’t we just talk about Jesus, and not risk excluding a significant portion of the church?
OK, tantrum over. I feel better now.
Yes, I know many churches do Mother’s Day in healthy and inclusive ways. Yes, I know we can spend the service focusing on the motherly nature of God. I fully support these measures. But the fact remains that no matter how well these measures are executed, they are—and always will be—the sting in the tail of Mother’s Day, the ever-present reminder of what I do not have.
I am not alone in this sentiment. I have childless friends who also opt out of Mother’s (and Father’s) Day services because it is simply too painful. The risk is too high that they will attend the Mother’s Day service and be ambushed in some way—a cute kids’ video, a poem about motherhood, a giving-flowers ceremony—leaving them distraught and disintegrating.
This is not cynicism speaking. This is my experience. This is why I usually avoid it.
So how am I going to survive this Mother’s Day? The answer lies at the heart of this story: serving. I will focus on serving, and with my attention fixed firmly on ministering to others, I will be distracted from my grief. This is not a new method. I have utilised this approach during Christmas carols too, as carols can tend toward the ‘child-friendly’ end of the spectrum. Serving makes a big difference.
The answer lies at the heart of this story: serving.
This is the plan for Mother’s Day. I will serve, I will focus on others, I will survive. And I will worship Jesus with every fibre of my being on that day. Because it’s all about him anyway.
Do you, or your childless friends, struggle with Mother’s Day services? Do you think it’s appropriate for churches to celebrate this Day? How can we survive these Days—or better yet, how can we be more supportive of each other so the need to ‘survive’ is diminished? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.