When Mother’s Day feels bittersweet

On Mother’s Day

It’s mothering sunday in the UK today, so a massive, digital hi-five and well done to all those hard-working mums out there.

But I also know that for many women, today can also feel a bit more bittersweet as well…

So for all those who have lost mothers, who have absent mothers, who have lost babies, or are still waiting to become mothers … may you simply know the peace of God’s presence with you today.

My Mother’s Day this year…

This Mother’s Day, we’ll be spending quality time with some of our family and friends, eating, drinking, and relaxing, and celebrating with our little boy. But for the second year running, we’ll also be letting the date pass without a much longed-for sibling, and two missing siblings lost somewhere in the process…

So there will be joy mixed with sadness and longing.

But isn’t that often the way that life is? The bitterness mixed with the sweet.

Moments of joy, and moments of sadness.

The good and the bad. The pleasure and the pain. Co-existing side by side.

When life feels bittersweet

When I was younger I generally used to think that being a Christian somehow magically exempted you from most of life’s troubles.

But that’s simply not the deal.

In fact, each time I open the Bible I am reminded again that this is all part of life; unfolding in all of its rich and colourful complexity and imperfection. Beauty mixed with brokenness.

A wedding celebration with a mention of a recently lost parent.

A family engagement alongside news of a separation or divorce.

A friend’s baby announcement alongside a miscarriage.

A dream job alongside a redundancy.

Life is just full of these difficult tensions and juxtapositions, isn’t it?

Learning to make space for the bitter

As I get older, I think that the bitterness is something I’m slowly learning to better accept and make space for, alongside the sweeter parts of my life.

Because often they act as a painful, but urgent, reminder than my ‘here and now’ is simply not my ‘forever home’.

Besides, how would we ever know true joy unless we also experienced some heartbreak or pain? And how would we ever fully appreciate all of life’s blessings, unless we also knew what it was to lack?

Lots of chocolate and wine and cake is something that most of us love, but I wouldn’t enjoy eating that much sweet stuff every single day of the year. And it wouldn’t be good for me either…

We’re not always very good at doing this in our churches and christian communities, but I think we really need to get better at it. We need to be able to create space for those songs and stories of lament sometimes, as well as those ones of joy.

After all, the fact is that the Bible is just full of them, and I think we’re doing a massive disservice to people when we act like this life of following Jesus is just all about the sweet …

Jesus himself, was a man of many sorrows.

Finding peace in the midst of the bitter moments

The truth is that when Jesus walked on this earth amongst us, He never promised us a perfect life or an easy existence. In fact, He warned us that we almost certainly would have troubles in this world:

‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

John 16:33

But He also promised us that He would always be with us too.

And I think that’s how we can know peace right in the middle of this bitter and sweet mix of life; through the good times, the bad times, and even the many mediocre ones that exist inbetween them too.

Simply by knowing He is with us in this world, and that also He has ultimately overcome this world, can lend us great courage and strength for our struggles, our sadness, in the here and now today.

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