A Heart Like a Mother

In case you haven’t thought about the fact that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, consider this your courtesy call. Plan a special meal at mom’s, order that flower delivery, or put a reminder in your phone to call her – depending on how great of a child you are. Only kidding – but, not gonna lie, I will probably be doing the latter. It’s okay! We all have our strengths.

I have been thinking about this Mother’s Day more in advance than I normally do for a few reasons. First, I’m writing a blog series this month that relates to the idea of mothering (more on that in a bit). And second, this is my first Mother’s Day since my son was born.

I grew up with an amazing mom. She grew up with an amazing mom. I’m very thankful that both of these women are still alive today. That should have made Mother’s Day celebrations pretty clear-cut for most of my life, right? But for some reason, since being an adult at least, I have tended to tiptoe around Mother’s Day.

See, I’ve always had a habit of seeing too many shades of grey. To me, being a mom has always had such a deep and wide definition to it that I hate to put a hard and fast delineation on who should and should not be celebrated on this day.

What about my aunt who I was always very close with and was not able to have a baby? What about the mom of some of my best friends growing up who has since lost two sons? What about my many friends who long to be moms but have not been able to get pregnant yet? What about my friends who have miscarried? What about my older friend who is single but cares for her friends like family? What about that mentor who is a mix of mom and friend? What about my friend who essentially raised her younger siblings herself?

And what about me? Even before I had a baby, I have always felt like I had the heart of a mother toward certain people, like my high school small group girls. I loved the blurry mix of friend, big sister, and mom that never needed to be defined in those relationships. Mothering those girls in that non-traditional, niche way always felt like I was living out a bit of my purpose. It’s not like they didn’t have their own awesome moms already; most of them did. But, if we take a moment to consider, do we not all have many women in our lives who have mothered us in some capacity?

So when all the moms are asked to stand up in church to be honored on Mother’s Day, do these women stand? The aunts and friend’s moms and mentors and big sisters? To my view, they should. They may not be my mom or even a mom at all by the strictest definition, but they certainly have a mother-heart.

A mother-heart is someone who is a mom in their bones, even if they don’t have a baby with their smile. A mother-heart is a woman who sees her younger sisters in Christ as her babes to care for and love, even if they aren’t biologically hers. A mother-heart is a sister with the heart of a mother. That is, the heart of God.

A mother-heart is a sister with the heart of a mother.

During the month of May, we are going to take a look at the times in Scripture when the Biblical authors use maternal imagery to describe the character of God. We’re used to hearing about God as a father and Jesus as the Son, and these are true images. But the Bible is also full of times when God’s character is described in the terms of motherhood.

This makes sense, because women are just as much made in the image of God as men are, of course. Genesis 5:2 says, “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them.” God made “mankind” or “humans” in his image, and that means both men and women are image-bearers. I hope you already know this, and I point it out to press a point further: if we as women are made in the image of God, that means that some aspects traditionally associated with feminine character, such as the nurture of a mother for her babies, can also be seen in God’s character.

These passages of Scripture are beautiful, and I believe they can help us learn to love our sisters better. We will see that God cares for his children, gathers his people, comforts the grieving, and fights for his family, all as a mother might. Sure, fathers can do these things too. But the Biblical authors chose to describe these glimpses of God’s character with maternal imagery, and I think we can learn from those moments how to be better sisters.

The reality is that Mother’s Day is so painful for some, and it may always be. But Mother’s Day can be about so much more when we look to God’s character and see that the maternal aspect of God’s heart for his people can be ours, as well. Friend, you bear his image, which means a mother-heart is in you too, whether you have your own babies or not.

Regardless of your circumstantial, medical, or relational reality right now, you, my sister in Christ, were born to mother someone. And I think that’s worth celebrating this Sunday.

You might not want to have kids of your own, right now or ever. Can you use your mother-heart to love your friend’s kids or a teenager who is lonely? What a beautiful way to use it!

Maybe you have not been able to have a baby, though you desperately want to grow your family that way. Sweet friend, I’m so sorry this is part of your story. Can I whisper something true through your pain, though? I need you to know that you still have a mother-heart. If you do or if you don’t become a mom, after you are a mom and before, you have a heart made to mother. I believe God will open opportunities for you to use your mother-heart if you look for them. Maybe that means you will get pregnant, or maybe it means you will adopt, or foster, or mentor, or love your friend’s kids really, really well. I’m not saying it will be easy, but there is a sister out there who needs your mother-heart. I know your burden is heavy, but I hope you don’t let your beautiful, made-to-mother heart go to waste while you wait.

If you do or if you don’t become a mom, after you are a mom and before, you have a heart made to mother.

On Sunday, almost unlike any other day of the year, every sister you know will fall into one of two camps: the celebrated and the not. That’s not to say we shouldn’t celebrate moms – they absolutely deserve to be cheered on, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day. But if you are a sister for whom Mother’s Day is full of joy, can I ask something of you?

This Sunday, will you draw a sister close who is not celebrated? Look for ways she uses her mother-heart, part of her character because it is part of God’s character, and call it out. Celebrate how she mothers even if she is not a mom. In the family of God I hope we can always be sisters who don’t celebrate status or situation, but who celebrate service and sacrifice.

Celebrate the mom who changes allll the diapers, alongside the mom who suffered a miscarriage and never got to meet her baby.

Celebrate the mom who is faithful to discipline even when it’s tough, alongside the sister who stepped up to mother her little siblings.

Celebrate the mom who taught you so many things, alongside the dedicated teacher or mentor who mothers your kids in ways you can’t.

Celebrate the mom who has managed to raise a functional human, alongside the older women who have played the role of mom to you at some point in your life.

Celebrate the mom who makes every day a good day, alongside your “mom friend” who keeps your sister group together and going strong.

I hope this month you celebrate the moms, but mostly, I hope you celebrate your sisters who use their strong mother-heart to love us all so well.

Love ya, friend.

Your Sister, Kimber

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2 responses to “A Heart Like a Mother”

  1. Kimber, thank you for these beautiful words. I am sharing the Word from the pulpit this Sunday, and the scripture is the story of Tabitha/Dorcas and I had tried 3 times to start a sermon on Mothers Day, and I just couldn’t get it right, because of the potential hurt for those who may no longer have the I moms, or those who didn’t have positive relationships with their mom’s, or for those who are hurting over not being able to have their own children. You, however, said this so eloquently!! Thank you!!!! Love you to pieces, my dear!!!! And I am so proud to be your aunt!

    1. LOVE YOU too!! I know you’ll bring an encouraging word to them for sure! 🙂

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