An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}

Apparently, I’m on a roll (does that count if it’s two days in a row?) with posting OPS (Other People’s Stuff) on my blog. No matter, I’m sure I’ll be back with some original works sooner than later. In the meantime, the following is reblogged from Messy In The Middle by Amy. For reasons I’m not comfortable revealing, I felt this post to be very poignant and necessary for people to read, regardless of your status on church or spirituality, and I’m so glad Amy addressed this last year. Please read, be thoughtful, and feel free to respond below or at Amy’s home. 

An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}

MAY 10, 2012 BY  702 COMMENTS

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

  1. Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

2.  Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

I’ve created a PDF of The Wide Spectrum of Mothering 

3. Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering, I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out =).

Warmly and in your corner,


p.s. Dear Pastors, It’s me again {what a few days, eh?!} and Another open letter to pastors {lessons from the comments section}


One thought on “An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}

  1. Amy, for years I walked to the front of the church to receive the red rose from the Rose Cross ceremony my husband ( also my pastor) did every year. Up until about eleven years ago it did not bother my daughter, she would just smile at me as I stood with the other mothers in front of the church. That changed with time, we smiled at one another through tears, after several miscarriages, then came fertility, and she couldn’t take it any more. So she either didn’t go and I cried or she left when this part of the service came and I would go out with her. A couple more years of “torment” for her and they were matched for adoption in April, that year Mother’s Day was a little easier, we were still on edge. The next year, we walked hand in hand to get our roses and she had that precious baby in her other arm. I had our florist make her a tiny little hand bouquet to mark that first one. Each year is sweeter. But neither of us will forget those very hard days. Something you might think about doing is if there is someone in your church who is just really special to you but not a mother, give them a rose. We once had a lady who has promised her mother, who was on her death bed, that she would always take care of her blind brother. She never married and to this day takes care of her adult brother. I took her a rose because if anyone deserved it she did. We cried. So in all this rambling, God bless you.

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