It's an awkward moment in many churches around the world today. Pastors will pause at some point in the service and say, "Could we have all the mothers in our congregation stand? We'd like to recognize all the moms who--"
He'll catch a look from his wife in the front row and alter what he was about to say. "Let's have all the women stand. That's right. All you ladies, stand to your feet. We'd like to honor you on this Mother's Day with our applause and a lovely potted plant as a token of our appreciation for...for...moms." His wife stares at him again. But it's too late now.
It's a day of celebration. Family dinners. Phone calls from across the country. Cards. Gifts. Poems written by little children with wild imaginations and few spelling skills. Hugs and flowers and...
Incredible, indescribable pain.
Within that congregation are the women who've never heard a child call them "Mom." Women who miscarried two weeks ago. A woman whose son would be a teen now, but he died a stillborn. Moms whose children tore out of the house years ago with a curse and a vow never to return. Women who wanted children but whose medical records note the date of their hysterectomy.
Women with sons serving in the military, in harm's way 24/7. Women with children who won't look them in the eye or who can't. Moms wracked by guilt. Moms whose children were ripped from their arms by the courts and their own bad decisions.
"Weep with those who weep," the Bible tells us in Romans 12:15. "Mourn with those who mourn." Those of us whose children and grandchildren are alive, with us, overtly loving and caring, feel a pang inside thinking about those for whom Mother's Day is a reminder of pain and loss. It tempers our own celebration.
That dizzying pendulum swing of emotions--happy for me, sad for you; or happy for you, sad for me--hits us when we win the award and our best friend doesn't even final, when we receive a book contract and our critique partner doesn't, when a husband gets a transplant in time but someone had to die for that to happen.
It rattles us when we're undergoing fertility treatments and the neighbor's fifteen year old daughter is the one whose pregnancy test reads positive. Or we're forced to sell our dream house and it becomes an answer for another family. Or the scholarship we needed desperately is awarded to someone who needs it more.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice." That's the first half of Romans 12:15. Before the Apostle Paul urged us to weep with those who weep, he encouraged us to rejoice with those who rejoice. Moved by the Spirit of God to write those easy-to-memorize words, Paul started with the instruction that we rejoice with those who rejoice. As if we needed to be told.
Maybe we do. On days like Mother's Day.
AUTHOR'S QUESTION: How do you find the courage to rejoice when you feel like weeping, or the compassion to weep when you feel like rejoicing? I'd like to hear your stories.
Author and speaker Cynthia Ruchti has moms and babies on her mind these days with the recent release of her novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, which traces the paths of three women in three eras of time, all dealing with some aspect of the aftereffects on unwed pregnancies. Desperate for hope, each of the women is sure it won't come in time. You can read more about this and Cynthia's other books at www.cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/cynthiaruchtireaderpage.