In an often thankless role like motherhood, we often carry the weight of year-round hard work and sacrifice. So as the month of May approaches, Mother's Day is a shining beacon. It feels like a point of light shining hope into a land of monotony and overwhelm. It whispers of the possibility of a day of better circumstances, of a day devoted to celebrating us.
Most of our desires for Mother's Day are reasonable. We hope for breakfast in bed, a nice gift, a pedicure, homemade cards, some time alone, or just some quality family togetherness. It wouldn't take much to have the perfect Mother's Day. Still, every year I end the day with a twinge of discontent. Even if the day went just as I wanted, the good moments didn’t fully satiate my desire for rest and recognition.
It can be tempting to put our hope in a day of appreciation for our weighty work or just a little break. But what we really need is to look past the pinprick of light offered by Mother's Day. Instead, we should look to the blinding hope of a God who is our perfect parent. In Christ, we can find all the recognition and rest we long for.
Our Hope for Recognition
I long to be recognized from the tips of my polish-free toenails to the ends of my unwashed hair. Does anyone notice all the mundane and challenging tasks motherhood requires of me? Will anyone pay honor to my hard work? We aren't always motivated by recognition, but there's a persistent little (and sometimes loud) voice in our hearts that longs for our work to be appreciated. We just want someone to see all the behind-the-scenes serving we do on a daily basis. But our husbands and kids will almost always fail to notice all we do. Their half-hearted, semi-forced kisses often don't feel like thanks enough on Mother's Day.
God offers a better kind of recognition than the praise of your children or husband. He is El Roi, the God who sees (Gen. 16:13). Just as you notice when your children respond in obedience to the work set before them, God, as your heavenly Father, sees your good works. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). God not only sees the hard work you’re doing; he also prepares you and enables you to do it through the finished work of Christ.
When you recognize that all your hard work is from Christ, through Christ, and to Christ (Rom. 11:36), you see your work as worship to the God who deserves all the glory. Then, as you give God the glory for the good works he is doing through you in motherhood, you get something better than the recognition of your children or husband or friends. You experience the joy of knowing you are seen by your heavenly Father.
Our Hope for Rest
The constant churn of motherhood often makes us bone-weary. No matter what stage of motherhood we’re experiencing, the exhaustion may be physical or emotional or mental, but it’s almost always there. As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s no surprise then that moms mostly long for physical rest or just some time alone for mental and emotional rest.
But no matter how much rest we get, it never feels like quite enough. Our needs are simply too great for a day off or breakfast in bed to fix. Like our children asking for a piece of candy to cure their hunger, we often identify temporary and insufficient solutions to the weariness we experience in motherhood. Tired moms, Jesus calls to you: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). So when you find yourself longing for rest, turn from the easy rest of this world to the eternal rest of your Savior. While the ever-changing experience of motherhood may have you longing for rest and recognition, find a better hope in the care and comfort of God by remembering these two truths:
1. God Knows What We Need
Just as moms usually have a better understanding of what their kids actually need than the kids themselves, God knows our needs better than we do. As our heavenly Father, he not only has the wisdom to correctly identify our needs but also the power to meet them. When we look to God to care for us, our souls find rest in him. He is faithful to meet our physical needs as he cares for all of creation and to meet our spiritual needs with himself.
2. God Doesn’t Need Anything From Us
Surrounded by fallen, weary humanity, we face more needs than we could ever meet. The needs of my own family sometimes feel too heavy to bear on top of the needs of my job, my friends, my church, and my community. In this world where everyone needs something from us, our souls can be at rest in a God who needs nothing from us. He invites us into an intimate relationship with him for our own good, not because he lacks anything.
God is perfect and complete within the relationship of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His purposes stand and his will is accomplished, no matter how we react to our circumstances. God has many good things planned for us to do, but he doesn't need us to accomplish any of them. In a world where you are surrounded by neediness, find your rest in the God who does not need anything from you.
As we stumble through the darkness of this fallen world, we need more than a flashlight of hope. We need the blindingly brilliant sunshine of the One who said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Friends, we don’t have to produce light for all the needs of the world. Instead, we get to reflect God’s light to those around us.
When we place our hope for recognition and rest in God instead of in a perfect holiday, we shine the spotlight on God’s glory. This Mother's Day, we do not have to saddle our husbands or children with our longing for rest and recognition. Instead, we can find those truly met in the completeness and power of our heavenly Father.