Every year when Mother’s Day rolls around, my heart feels a twinge – of sorrow, regret, empathy – I don’t know how to describe it, but it lingers throughout the day. I think of the precious women whose longing for motherhood is never realized and imagine how the celebration must stab deep in their hearts.
I think of those whose mothers failed or abandoned them and imagine how the day reminds them of what they will never have.
I think of those whose mothers are gone, and imagine the sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter memories that are stirred.
I had a perfectly lovely Mother’s Day this year. It was simple, relaxed and spent in the company of my family. I felt loved and appreciated and enjoyed the gifts, the food and the words of love. My own mother is a woman of rare grace and I am honored to have such an example of a woman of faith and boundless love.
But I’m embarrassed to say, there have been Mother’s Days in my past where my expectations for what should happen, how I should be acknowledged, what gifts I should have received left me feeling more self-pity than gratefulness.
I’ve had Mother’s Days when depression and a deep sense of regret over all the things I didn’t do right and the ways I mothered horribly made it impossible for me to get out of bed.
There’s something about the contrived, commercialized, over-the-top THING that Mother’s Day, has become that makes me cringe and want to quit celebrating it all together. But I’m not sure that’s the answer. Because the celebration of mothers and all that they do is a sweet and necessary thing. I just wish we could tone it down a few notches!
If you love the hype and noise of Mother’s Day and think I’m crazy, that’s fine. But for the rest of you, reading my words and whispering a silent “amen” I want to honor you today, on this un-Mother’s Day, a Tuesday like any other.
To the motherless, the childless and the ones with regrets
To the grandmas and the mamas with empty nests
To the mothers who do it all wrong – forget the school recital, let the kids watch too much TV, feed them Froot Loops for dinner and run out of toilet paper
To the mamas with the wandering child, the stubborn son, the ungrateful daughter
To those who do it alone, without reprieve
To the dear one with the messy house, the empty bottles of wine, the unwashed dishes and piles of laundry
To the brave souls who mother other people’s children
To the women whose quest for perfection exhausts and depletes them
To the mamas who yell and scold too often; who praise and teach too little
To those who navigate motherhood without a healthy example before them
To the tireless and tired ones with children who will always need them and never become independent
To the women with angel babies
To the lost souls in a dark hole who can’t get out of bed, and who are racked with pain, with guilt, with fear.
I honor you today with a prayer for…
May your minds be at ease, your bodies find rest and your spirits be comforted by the One who IS peace.
I remember the day you told me. The shame and anguish in your voice. The tears that flowed like a storm surge after a hurricane – unrelenting and washing over you in wave after wave of grief. Your body convulsed and your wailing pierced the air. How helpless and inept I felt in the face of such sorrow.
I think of you often these days. I’m reminded of you every time I see a post meant to heap even more shame and guilt. How is your heart holding up under the weight of it all?
We never talked of it again, you and I. I’m sorry that the only thing I offered you was a weak hug and a few tears. I long to go back and hold your face between my hands. Remind you how much you are loved and how deeply you are forgiven. I regret not praying with you. I regret not weeping with you. I regret not mourning with you or acknowledging the depths of your loss, your pain, your heartache, your shame.
If, by some twist of fate, you happen to read this, please know God’s love for you is greater than the storm surge of your grief. His forgiveness is deeper than the pit of your shame. His blood has washed away the stain of your scarlet letter.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Is. 1:18)
I pray that your life is surrounded by grace; that your heart is immersed in love. I beg you – lay down the stones you cast at yourself. Pry open your hands and let them tumble, one by one at the Savior’s feet. Stand up and acknowledge your scars and use them to bring healing to others.
I haven’t forgotten you, dear friend. I’m thinking of you tonight and I’m reminding you of God’s grace.
You are not your past. You are a precious child of God – loved and redeemed and whole.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.
When the election cycle began, there was a single candidate that appeared to be a joke. A reality star turned politician, he is equal parts petulant child and tyrant – clearly a man not suited for the office of President.
That was then. This is now.
Many of my friends and family members are now devoted to Donald Trump and the Republican party he leads. With every lie and every mean-spirited and angry word he utters, they continue to defend him.
I find I am out of step with people I have known for years – a minority voice in a large and vocal Evangelical community. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.
I spent my life in the church and I harbor a deep and abiding love for the body of Christ but, at this point in time, the majority of my friends and family are supporting Trump. I can’t.
I expressed my opinion on Facebook last week, in no uncertain terms, following the release of a videotape reminding us of Mr. Trump’s true character. Because of my stance against him, some questioned my faith. While staunchly supporting this man, who claims to not need God’s forgiveness and spews ugliness and fear at every turn, they doubted my faith, someone they know personally to be a sincere, albeit flawed Christian. Others sent me emails and private messages trying to convince me that I’m wrong and show me the error of my ways.
The disconnect is so deep that it feels as if we are speaking a different language. The baiting, arguing and discord have, at times, worn my spirit raw.
The list of reasons why I find Donald Trump to be unsuitable for the office of President are long and I won’t bore you with all of them here but I want to respond to two issues that some raised last week, in an attempt to defend Mr. Trump.
“He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
The issue of forgiveness toward Donald Trump was raised repeatedly, at times by the same people who listed all the ways that Hillary Clinton is evil and irredeemable. It appears that forgiveness is meted out according to party lines. But, let’s just deal with the actual Scripture for now. Here it is, in context.
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.””
John 8:2-11 NIV
Here is a woman who, in her time and culture, had no power.
The leaders brought her to Jesus when they caught her in the act of adultery. This act, by it’s very nature, requires a second party. The man, however, is nowhere to be found in this story but it’s possible, according to the law of the time, that he too held a stone.
Men of power surrounded this lone woman in her shame and all the blame for the act of adultery was placed upon her alone. But Jesus saw through their tricks. He turned the tables on her accusers and challenged them with their own sin.
Jesus didn’t give a pass to those who oppress, he elevated the oppressed.
Jesus is always for the poor. Always for the marginalized. Always for the outcast. At the same time, Jesus showed little patience or sympathy for those who wielded power without mercy; for the leaders who tried to trap him and manipulate him. He spoke out against them time and time again.
This brings us to Mr. Trump, a man who is clearly not the marginalized and downtrodden that Jesus elevated in John 8. When I read this Scripture, I don’t see Mr. Trump cowering on the ground in shame and fear, I see him leering in the crowd, ready to throw rocks; only his rocks are words. Words meant to shame and intimidate.
The recent media focus is on words The Donald spoke eleven years ago. This is not the only time he spewed demeaning and insulting words but it is certainly one of the worst. In this tape, unscripted and unprompted, he shows us the man that he is and as Maya Angelou once said,
“If someone shows you who they really are, believe them.”
Many women, including myself, were impacted when they watched this tape. My cheeks burned when I heard him speak in derogatory terms and joked about assault while Billy Bush guffawed and egged him on. Just locker room talk, right? But here’s how those words affected me.
When Mr. Trump boasted that he could “do anything” to a woman, I recalled the man, the father of my friend, who exposed himself to me at the tender age of five.
When Donald Trump talked about a woman’s “big phony t**s,” I remembered another friend’s father. He watched porn in the room next to our ten-year-olds slumber party and didn’t flinch or turn off the TV when I walked through the room to go to the bathroom.
When The Donald referred to a woman as a “b***h,” I recalled how I was disciplined for wearing a skirt with a slit above my knee at a Christian college. Some boys complained that the sight of my legs “was causing them to stumble.”
When Mr. Trump said he could “grab her by the p***y,” I saw the face of the chiropractor who grabbed mine, during the course of a routine chiropractic adjustment.
When The Donald and Billy Bush ogled over a girl “hot as s**t,” I recalled the shame and embarrassment of working in an office with a group of men who listened to Howard Stern and his sexually explicit banter every morning, and left pornographic magazines in the bathroom both men and women shared.
Every time he is given a pass for his appalling behavior and demeaning words toward women, I see the faces of men long buried in my memory.
The teenage boy who asked me to ride the roller coaster, only to paw and grab me during the entire ride – the coworker who cornered me to share the details of his unfulfilling sex life – the doctor who, when I complained of an earache, insisted I take off my blouse and then rubbed me with his stethoscope for what seemed like an eternity – the boss who slandered me by spreading untrue rumors about my sex life – every “good old boy” who took advantage of their position of authority to demean or exploit me.
Sadly, my experience is not unique. The vast majority of women will see themselves in some of the scenarios above, or be reminded of circumstances far worse. When I think of a man like this, holding the highest position of power in the land, it makes my blood boil.
This, my friends is “locker room talk.” This is “boys being boys.” Here’s my question? Where are all the men?
If Christian men (and women) don’t speak out against this kind of behavior then who will? When Christian men refuse to speak, I begin to wonder, do they feel the same? Do they agree? Are they amused or even proud of Mr. Trump’s machismo and ballsiness? I’m afraid I think this may be true for some because shamefully, most of my perpetrators were family men and claimed to be Christians.
I don’t want a good old boy as Commander in Chief. I can’t abide a predator as President.
In a culture saturated with porn and demeaning images of women at every turn, I cannot vote for a man who looks at women as body parts, who reminds me of my most embarrassing and shame-filled memories. It’s not okay.
This is a watershed moment for the Evangelical church. We can continue to clutch at power, or stand up to those who would abuse it.
If we stand behind a man like Mr. Trump, we have shown the world who we are and they should believe it. I, for one, will not stand there.
I hear this so often from women these days, especially on social media. When I hear this, it tugs at my heart and reminds me of long, dry periods of my life where I felt the same. Times when I was hungry for friendship and meaningful connections with other women but struggled to find it.
I admit it, even now there are times that I feel disconnected and lonely but it is nothing compared to my early years of motherhood when I craved a female connection that I could not seem to find.
Over the years I have learned a thing or two about friendship and while I am certainly no expert on the topic, I long to see all women enjoying the rich benefits that true friends can bring.
Here is a list of Seven Steps I’ve found that help open the doors to lasting and meaningful friendships.
Be intentional in your quest for friendship.
This is key! If you want friends, make it a priority to find them and carve out time to spend with them. I know how busy you are. I get it. But anything worth having, is worth your time. So, get off Instagram, forget the housecleaning and call or text a could-be friend. Yes, I just gave you permission to have a dirty house. You’re welcome.
I know. It’s hard to reach out. You risk rejection. But DO it anyway! You may have to throw the line out several times before you get a bite but you can do hard things!
Join a book club or an art class. Start using that gym membership. Get out there in the world where other women hang out!
Lend someone a listening ear or a helping hand.
There was a time when I was so wrapped up in my own head, listening to my own fears and worries, that I didn’t really take the time to listen to those around me. I was so focused on myself and my own troubles that I wouldn’t have noticed a potential friend if she came up to me and hit me over the head!
This step goes hand-in-hand with Step #1. When we are intentional, when we truly listen, we hear other women and the cry of their heart for the same type of meaningful relationships that we crave. Once we hear it, we can respond with an open hand of friendship instead of a clenched fist of self-pity.
Perhaps there’s someone who needs a lift to work. Maybe you know someone that could use a meal or help painting the baby’s room. An act of kindness is a beautiful friendship starter.
For crying out loud – SMILE! Let people know you want to be friends. Not in a clingy, stalker-ish way but casually, as you encounter them in your day-to-day life. Take the time to talk to people you encounter throughout the day.
And puh-leeze do not be that girl. You know the one. She’s whiny, complaining, critical, gossipy. I know we all have our moments but girlfriend, if that is your MO, trust me… nobody’s got time for that!
Look for friends in unexpected places.
Maybe you’re a mom, ‘stuck’ at home with a couple of toddlers. Maybe you’re a single business woman, devoted to your career or growing a business. Maybe you’re retired and the kids have left home.
Who says your friends have to match you or be in the same stage of life? Yes, there is definitely something to be gained by having friends who are walking through the same stuff – there’s a certain camaraderie that brings, but sometimes hanging out with other women with the same issues is an invitation to a pity party. All of that commiserating may leave you feeling depleted instead of filled.
Some of my most cherished friendships are with young girls and moms. We both contribute to the friendship, just in different ways.
Appreciate what you already have.
Ow! This is something I have definitely neglected to do. I’ve looked for friends when they’ve been there all along! Sometimes we’re so busy looking for something that we miss what we already have. It’s easy to take the familiar for granted. Is there someone already in your life who you need to invest time with? Perhaps even someone in your family who you’ve never really cultivated as a friend. Take a look around and be grateful for what you have.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Do any of your friends or acquaintances have different beliefs than you? If not, why not? Do you agree with them on every topic from politics to religion to parenting methods?
This might be the scariest way to find friends but it can be so rewarding! The next time you encounter a woman with a different point of view, consider spicing things up and adding to your circle of friends with someone who will challenge your status quo. Don’t be frightened. That liberal lady or homeschooling parent won’t bite! (Caveat – if they do, drop ’em like a hot potato!)
I love the fact that so many of my friends have disparate opinions. Sometimes our differences can encourage healthy debate but more often than not, we find we have more in common than we originally thought.
Pray for friendship.
If your spirit has been wounded by someone you once considered a friend (oh my, how that hurts!)
If you have been friendly and open, appreciative and willing, but still feel friendless.
If you are terrified of taking that first step and being rejected.
If you just don’t know where to begin.
Ask your heavenly Father to heal those broken places, give you the courage to take the next step and find those friends you so desperately need.
And, if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for someone to share a coffee and conversation (and perhaps, a slice of cake), give me a call!