The oldest yearns for support, appreciation, and encouragement for his creativity. The middle yearns for constant presence and companionship. The youngest yearns for basic needs and safety. Ultimately, their hearts yearn for our God who covenants with God’s people to offer purpose, belonging, and refuge. They seek The Promise.
My world revolves around The Promise. I am its steward who dispenses The Promise. I am its agent who puts The Promise in action. I am its incarnation whose very physical being embodies The Promise. I am created in the image of The Promise. I am a mother.
In pregnancy, mothers hold The Promise close to their hearts as the body nurtures life in its most fragile state. In childbirth, mothers usher in The Promise through their deep groans and deep breaths. In infancy, mothers activate The Promise as they respond to cries and feed the infant into being. In parenting, mothers enact The Promise as we prepare them to enter the community gifted and gifting the world.
Through it all, we place our bodies, minds, and souls in the hands of the Promise-Maker. We feel the responsibility deep within our bones. We lose ourselves. We find ourselves. Just as one cannot see God face-to-face and live, one cannot enact The Promise without being broken in the process. Embodying and enacting The Promise breaks us wide open and wounds us because the task goes beyond our human capacities.
The Promise is one that I, as a human mother, can make but can never keep in its totality. There are no amount of days I can stay at home from work, hours that I can neglect the laundry, and minutes that I can give up sleep in order to give my children the full purpose, belonging, and refuge that they desire.
This Mother’s Day, I name the glory of The Promise and the wonder of my participation within it. My human pride would have me believe that I am responsible for the fulfillment of The Promise. “Mommy guilt” is the nagging voice that tells me that I am tasked with the completing of The Promise. It dethrones God and denies God as the true Promise-Maker and only Promise-Completer.
God makes The Promise. I participate in it, imperfectly.
Failure is not only possible, it is unavoidable. My finitude, transience, and contingency do not make me a bad mom. They make me a mom whose children can ultimately find their way home to God where The Promise can be completed.
Mercy enables me to participate in The Promise through daily actions.
Grace enables me to embody The Promise through gestures of love.
Forgiveness enables me to persist in The Promise when I fail.
Like Mary, I welcome The Promise and I say, “Let it be.” I pause and I give thanks. I shake off my shame of being unable to carry the full weight of it. I do my part and I remember The Promise that holds me, too. It is The Promise that my mother embodied for me. It is The Promise her mother embodied for her.
And so on and so on, mothers plant The Promise and bless God’s people forward to find their home with The Promise-Maker and Promise-Completer.