Mother’s Day has become a day, globally, to honor the role of the mother. Nothing could be more natural than to recognize the selfless love, as well as the often tremendous sacrifice, many mothers make for the comfort and well-being of their children.
But what about times when women long to be mothers, and for one reason or another this aspect of life eludes them? Does Mother’s Day increase their sense of deprivation?
Just as my husband and I were ready to welcome a child into our home, I lost the baby a few months into my pregnancy. This hit me very hard. I was praying with a Christian Science practitioner, who stayed with me in prayer at the time, while I tried to overcome deep sadness and handle the gnawing, recurring questions, “What if I can’t be a mother? What if this is not to be?” When I asked him about these questions, I fully expected him to answer that I would surely be a mother. Instead, he said that he didn’t know what God’s intention for me was, but that he did know God loved me and would always provide everything I needed to glorify Him.
At first, I felt a kind of crushing terror. But later on that day, I went outside and sat on a blanket in the warm sunshine, perched on top of a snowbank. I prayed deeply and openly. I asked God to show me Her design. I said, “If I am not to mother children, let me mother whatever ideas or projects or activities You give me.” I promised that I would nurture and love any ideas God sent my way, and I gave up the idea that I had to have little children in order to be a mother. As a result of this prayer, I realized that mothering could not be restricted to a particular human design, but that it was a quality of God and therefore creatively unlimited.
Not long after that, I saw something helpful in a precious Bible story. Elisha the prophet befriended a woman from Shunem. When he traveled through that area, he and his servant would stay at the Shunammite’s house. She suggested to her husband that they make a special guest room for Elisha so that whenever he visited, he would be comfortably cared for. During one stay, Elisha was speaking with his servant, Gehazi, appreciating the woman’s tender care, and asked him if he knew of any needs she might have. Gehazi replied that she was childless. Elisha then sent for her and told her that she would have a child. Some months later she had a son.
The important message from this story to me was not that Elisha was changing the Shunammite woman from a childless woman into a mother, but rather, his spiritual discernment. Woman, as an expression of God, includes all the qualities of the divine Mother. The Shunammite woman was in fact already mothering Elisha – providing tender care and comfort, seeing to his and his servant’s needs when they stopped by her home. This illustrates the completeness and limitless expression of Mother, as Mary Baker Eddy described in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Mother. God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love” (p. 592).
Some of the requirements of motherhood are nurturing love, selflessness, affection, tenderheartedness, and moral courage. These God-qualities are not restricted to women but are included in both the man and the woman of God, as Elisha demonstrated. I have observed my husband over the years express those mothering qualities with children, with business projects, and with me. When I have reached out to male Christian Science practitioners, I have keenly felt the Mother-love they have attentively and freely expressed.
When I did have children, I was grateful for this broader understanding of motherhood. When they left home, the mothering I’ve always done was uninterrupted and continues today in all sorts of ways.
No one is deprived of God and Her sweet qualities. You, whoever you are, are complete, with the full range of them to express.