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The myth of perfect motherhood: Mothers Day 2014

Local News: The next Mission Mississippi Prayer Breakfast will take place at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church (1109 Cooper Rd. Jackson, MS 39212) at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 15. For more information, contact Valencia Wallace at 601-371-8855. The purpose of Mission Mississippi's prayer breakfasts is to foster greater unity in the Body of Christ in the metro-Jackson area across racial and denominational lines. To learn more, go to

Once in a while, you run across people who, for whatever reason, dislike Mother’s Day. Sometimes, it’s mothers themselves. Reasons range from bitterness over a broken relationship with a mother to frustration over the commercialization of the day. One complaint this examiner recently heard is that it often “over sentimentalizes” motherhood. What does this mean? Basically, the objection is that Mother’s Day sometimes presents an idealized portrait of motherhood—a portrait that no real, flesh and blood woman could ever live up to.

The refreshing thing about the Bible is just how true to life it is. Think of the mothers who are described in Scripture. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, the mother of Isaac, was a skeptical woman, who at first didn’t believe that God was going to fulfill his promise to give her and her husband a son in their old age. Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau, was a dishonest woman, helping her youngest son scheme to get the blessing only elder brothers were entitled to. Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel, the mothers of what became the twelve tribes of Israel, were idolatrous women; it is only as Jacob decides to leave Laban and return to his own land after 20 years that he finally constrains his wives to once and for all put away their foreign gods.

Many Biblical mothers don’t fit the idealized portrait that is popularly described during Mother’s Day. They had flaws, real flaws, and made real mistakes, sometimes ones that had devastating consequences.

Of course, Scripture portrays numerous virtuous mothers as well. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is presented as a faithful woman who believed God for something big, and God heard her. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, is presented as a faithful woman who risked her life to keep her baby boy protected from Pharaoh. The Virgin Mary is portrayed as a meek and godly woman who believed God could use her to do the impossible.

The point, though, in the fact that Scripture presents the good and the bad, when narrating the lives of Scripture’s most influential families, is that God is in ultimate control. Although Rebekah encouraged Jacob in his dishonesty, God still called Jacob to himself and re-named him Israel. God even used Jacob’s dishonesty, wrong in itself, to bring about good things. Leah and Rachel didn’t raise their children up from a young age in the fear and admonition of the Lord, yet Joseph still grew into a godly man who helped save his entire family when famine struck. Because God is in ultimate control, everything doesn’t ride on how perfect mothers are. Yes, Christian mothers should strive to raise their sons and daughters to the best of their ability, but they should remember that even if they mess up—and they will—God is still in control, and God can use even their failures to work something good in the end.

So mothers who have been beating themselves up, thinking of how they fail to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman, can breathe a sigh of relief. Mothers can remember that God calls them to be faithful, but at the same time he knows their human frailty; he remembers they are dust. The weight of the world doesn’t rest on their shoulders. If they commit their motherhood and their children to God, God will bring good even out of their worst mistakes. Mothers, remember that Jesus loves the real you, not some ideal you. He died for the real you, seeing you as you are, even at your worst. Take heart!

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