How to be a Mother

By The Reverend Nathan Day Wilson

I hope you will not let this week pass without thanking someone who has served as a mother-figure in your life. That person may be older or younger than you. That person may be of any gender.

I hope you will not let this week pass without acting as a mother-figure to someone else. For you, that may mean acting as a mother-figure to a sibling or a parent; an elder or a young person; a coworker, a friend or even a foe.

Who or what is a mother-figure? Thanks for asking. A mother-figure shows care and compassion. A mother-figure gives a listening ear and a helping hand. A mother-figure comforts us when we are disturbed and disturbs us when we are too comfortable. You know mother figures in your life. You can be a mother-figure in another’s life.

Mother-figures and mothering images have long been used as analogies for thinking about God. Think of Isaiah 66:13, for example, where Isaiah sings of God who longs to comfort us as a mother comforts her child. Think of the beautiful poem in Hosea 11 where God is a mother who calls, teaches, holds, heals and feeds her young. Think of Jesus in Luke 15, when he compares God’s seeking us to a woman seeking a lost coin.

I’m well aware that some have had negative experiences with their mothers or mother figures. As well, some who very much want to be biological mothers are not able. Those facts can make it difficult to think positively about mother figures or mothering images just as it can make days such as Mother’s Day more painful than celebratory. If that is you, please know that you are loved and your story is important.

Please also know that your history need not dictate your future. Even if your experience was not positive, you can still be a positive mother-figure to others.

This Sunday, May 14, we will recognize mothers and mother-figures during the 11:00 AM morning worship service. I hope you will be there.

Read from the inspirational proclamation that led to the founding of Mother’s Day:

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Let us solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace.

– Julia Ward Howe, Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870

That’s right: the document that led to the creation of Mother’s Day is a moving call for global peace. That same document ends this way, “In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly promote the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”

How can you be a mother-figure? You can be caring and compassionate. You can listen and help. You can comfort and inspire. You can work for peace.

You know mother figures in your life. Thank one this week. You can be a mother-figure in another’s life. Be one this week.

See you Sunday at the place we recognize those who make this world and us better –


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