I have always felt ambiguous about Mother’s Day. It’s not on the Christian calendar and feels overly-Americanized to me. And I know from experience that although it makes a good number of mothers happy, it also pours salt into the gaping wounds of those women who have lost babies or cannot get pregnant or will never have the chance to mother. It can also be a hard and sad day for Birthmoms, a fact I am increasingly alert to.
But before you roll your eyes let me quickly add that this does not stop me from feeling perfectly entitled to being pampered and loved on and generally admired and petted on this day of the year. I am after all a mother. I work hard. I love hard. I spend myself for two little people who never seem to get enough. I am entitled.
Today the Lord had other plans in mind. With a pastor husband I wasn’t going to get much of a break anyway, but a flare up of Judah’s ear infection that has been our unwelcome guest for a few weeks landed me with my little ones in the waiting room of a walk-in clinic. Exchanging much-needed worship and fellowship for jeans, flip-flops and the prescription process. The hours following were difficult. I will spare you the details but when my babies were finally napping I found myself in tears, feeling all kinds of sorry for myself and whining to my heart, “Some Mother’s Day.”
The long and short of it is I lack the gumption I need to mother my children with courage, unconditional love and a self-forgetfulness that simply must be on the menu if I am to ever reach their hearts. I am ashamed to admit that I felt much more sorry for myself than for poor Judah who has been suffering for some time now and can’t seem to get better.
The long and short of it is I feel entitled. I feel entitled to an ordered life, obedient children, healthy children, a beautiful home, a quiet home, the opportunity to be in worship every Lord’s Day. I feel entitled to the way of life that I can picture for myself. Because, simply put, the things I desire are good things and will surely lead to righteousness.
The long and short of it is that if I felt more holy discontent with myself and my own heart I would be much more willing and able to seize each moment to kill my sin, to die to my own desires and to spend my strength for others.
I remember my dad talking about his own life in a sermon a while ago. He was detailing the sorrows and the joys that have marked his own journey. But, when all was said and done, his greatest sorrow was and would continue to be the sin that lived deep within, that was impossible to kill, that polluted his motives, his choices and his whole life.
I’m starting to realize how this feels. When the going gets tough I automatically feel like there must be something wrong with my circumstances. I feel lonely – then surely I don’t have what I need and must work to change it. I feel tired – then I must sleep more. I feel worn out with mothering – then I must have a break. I feel discouraged about one thing or another – then I need to find something to encourage me. I feel frustration with any number of situations – then I should avoid those circumstances. Entitlement says I really should not have to feel lonely or tired or worn out or discouraged or frustrated. (And it doesn’t help that our culture tells me that too.)
I require courage, but I prefer using the word gumption. Ever since Gone With the Wind entered my world that word has become a central part of my narrative. Perhaps because I love the sound of it. Perhaps because it feels more exotic than courage. Perhaps because I feel like our culture is not encouraging it or recognizing its value.
I require gumption to face the real, foundational, serious problem – really, the only problem I face and the only thing I ever need to fear. Gumption to face it, gumption to feel the full weight of holy discontent with myself. Gumption to feel all those things that I don’t want to feel. Gumption to press for holiness more than comfort.