While growing up as an only child, I longed to be part of a large family. Later, as a young widow with a 3-year-old son, I didn't expect to see my hopes fulfilled. At that time I was just beginning to study Christian Science, and I found this psalm, which became a promise to me: "God setteth the solitary in families" (68:6).
A second marriage did just that. We soon had two children of our own. Then we took my husband's two children by a previous marriage into our home, along with their half brother as a foster child. So within a few years, we had six children, all under 10 years old. As a result, we found ourselves designated by the state as a licensed foster home.
I had no idea what this kind of life entailed. Fortunately, my husband had grown up in a family of six children, so he knew what to expect. But before long I was feeling overwhelmed, perplexed, and inadequate. I found that reading the Christian Science Bible Lesson in the early morning before the rest of the family arose gave me strength and composure for the day ahead. I realized I had to learn what it meant to be a mother, and I wanted to learn more about God as the Mother, as well as the Father, of everyone.
As I continued to study Christian Science, I felt comforted and encouraged by seeing more clearly the motherhood of God. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 332). Gaining a clearer understanding of God as Mother helped free me from feeling inadequate and overwhelmed by the work and responsibility and gave me the strength I needed. I grew to value the thought of God as Mother of us all, and of each mother's privilege to see herself as the image of that divine motherhood.
The following hymn, which addresses God as Mother, became a prayer I turned to often:
O Love, our Mother, ever near,
To Thee we turn from doubt and fear!
In perfect peace our thoughts abide;
Our hearts now in this truth confide:
Man is the child of God. (Margaret Glenn Matters,
"Christian Science Hymnal," No. 232)
The hymn helped me realize that all of the children in our home were children of God.
Another issue I had to face was providing for the children. This statement from Science and Health also sustained me: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (p. 494). There were many needs over the years when we had a houseful of children. These needs were often supplied in unexpected ways. Friends and relatives gave us clothing and toys that their children no longer needed. We enlarged our gardens and grew more crops and increased the number of farm animals. Temporary work became available when most needed.
As the children graduated and left home, we were asked to take in more foster children. We also took in other relatives' children. After 20 years we'd cared for 17 in all.
I see now that in becoming part of a large family, I gained more than just children, and I feel it was a most rewarding time of my life.
God is available as Mother to each of us, whenever we're in need. As that hymn states, Divine Love, our Mother, is "ever near." And anyone – regardless of age or family status – has the right to feel the guidance, protection, and nurturing that come from this divine Mother of all.
Sunday, May 10, many parts of the world will celebrate Mother's Day.