Who is a Mother?

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It is Mother’s Day and I am not a mother. Other ladies open their pretty cards, and cuddle their babies. Bouquets declare it and preachers proclaim it: today mothers are the most special, honoured people in the world.

But my arms are empty and so are many of my friends’ arms. Who are we on Mother’s Day if we don’t have babies to cuddle or older children to give us flowers and fancy cards? Are we extras in the play, supporters of the star roles?

We are women. And being made in God’s image, we are life-givers. Because of His power in us, we give birth to miracles. Not biologically, necessarily. The miracles don’t always involve babies. But when our life goal is to accurately reflect God’s character, we will be nurturers in some way.

In creative ways, in diverse ways, in beautiful ways.

A school teacher patiently tutors a slow learner. A girl writes notes to encourage a homesick room-mate. A shop keeper befriends a lively family. A pat on a child’s head, a  smile for the cleaning lady at the mall, patience with co-worker’s prattle, a chat with a widow: all are tokens of the life-giving love and self-forgetful acts that characterize mothers.

No woman is exempt from these privileges.

It was women who followed Jesus to the cross when His disciples ran away. It was women, crushed with grief, who came to the tomb to do the last thing they could for Him. To accompany loved ones and care deeply for them even at great cost, this is what it means to be a woman and a mother.

Besides nurturing people who enter our world, we also nurture attitudes that shape our hearts. We can nurse grudges and complaints. Or we can incubate gratitude and acceptance that will spill out into our world and shape it. We nurture feelings just because we’re human, and we nurture Christ-like virtues because He has made us holy.

Tomorrow: Part II