I read an article this past week about Pope Francis speaking to a group of nuns from around the world. His word to them was this: be spiritual mothers, not "old maids."
Days like Mother's Day always get me reflecting on how grateful I am for whomever or whatever is being celebrated. My mom is phenomenal and I am so blessed each day to call her mine. But the Pope's remark got me to thinking a lot more broadly this week about what it means to take up the calling of motherhood.
Women are set apart to be a different kind of a blessing to the world. The first woman and mother was given the name "Eve" which means "life." What a bold reflection of our life-giving God! Women have been made to be life givers. That's seen most obviously through child birth, but it can look a lot of other ways, too. We admire you mamas that went through labor and breastfeeding or spent long hours waiting and watching for your adopted little one. We honor you today for your lifetime commitment to loving these children of yours. Additionally, though, I also want to acknowledge mothers of all shapes and kinds who may or may not be called "mom."
There are lots of phenomenal women throughout my story that have gone out of their way to love me and mother me. Spiritual encouragers, mentors, friends, teachers, coaches, RAs, bosses, professors. My life has been filled with some top notch women. Some of my favorite mothers have never bore a child.
I think about my vocations at the moment. Being an auntie to my nephew, Jared, and a godmama to Aaron and Lydia are among the top of the list. The responsibility I feel to invest in them, let them know they are loved, and help them to grow in truth is huge. I've yet to have a child of my own, but I hear God's calling to be a spiritual mother. I think of the love and responsibility I've felt and feel for my college students and youth as their leader and mentor. Some of my residents in college used to call me "Schmama." I loved loving those freshmen girls. I wanted to encourage them and speak life into their worlds as others had for me. As my former students keep in touch and are excited to share milestones with me, I swell with joy and pride to have been part of their lives. I also think of some very special families in my life that have invited me to join in loving their kids. I value that role and those relationships deeply and want to love them well.
This is what Church does [and I'm speaking particularly to the ladies today]. We must be encouragers and speak life to the young, just as others did for us. Today, I say thank you to those magnificently strong and faithful women that have encouraged and inspired me in what it means to be a woman of God. I'm grateful to be inspired by mothers of all kinds.
Mothers who are creative and make everyday an adventure for their kids.
Mothers who may not ever deliver their own biological kids, but are mothers to many abandoned and abused children in orphanages or homes.
Mothers who commit to praying and encouraging us and in turn, teach us to pray and encourage.
Mothers who are their baby's source of food for months and months.
Mothers who teach their kids to love strangers.
Mothers who sacrifice so much for their kids to eat healthy and accommodate dietary restrictions.
Mothers who set an example of quiet humility in a role that doesn't often receive much glory.
Mothers who say their sorry and teach their kids to apologize and forgive.
Mothers who don't protect their kids from every challenge or struggle, but walk with them through it.
Mothers who are their kid's biggest cheerleader, even from half way across the country.
Mothers who are so nurturing at their core, that they can't bear to see children without a family so they adopt or do foster care.
Mothers who help their daughters become mothers as they also take on being a grandmother.
Mothers who aren't just raising good kids, but molding great adults.
Mothers who look more like fun aunties who want to make sure a kid knows they're extra special and have lots of people that love them.
Mothers who look more like teachers, youth leaders, or coaches and challenge kids in their day to day life.
Mothers who look more like friends or mentors that seek for others to grow, walk in righteousness, be healthy, and love Jesus like crazy.
Mothers who adopt strays without families nearby.
Mothers who are always available to babysit when full-time moms and dads need some help.
Mothers who commit to be part of raising children and loving children, youth, and adults that aren't their own.
You and your love breathe life and allow people, families, and communities to flourish.
It makes no difference if our first name is "mom" or not. We have a powerful job in the Church and in your community to be mamas. To welcome, to teach, to love. To bring life.
Thank you to those who have brought life into my story and the stories of many. May we strive to pass on the legacy of life given to us.