God’s Design of Motherhood
God wants to help you grieve and celebrate at the same time
We have a whole day to celebrate and recognize the powerful influence of mothers. I’m especially filled with joy that we can celebrate all of you who call yourselves “Mom.”
Happy Mother’s Day.
God’s design of motherhood is so worthy to be celebrated. Sometimes as moms it’s easy to push away the applause and the celebration because we can easily think of areas that we missed it, times when we could do better, where we could talk nicer to our kids and just get it right. But in the midst of all your highs and lows, your heavenly Father wants to celebrate you, as well as the influence and established role of His design of motherhood. It’s powerful.
My mom went on to be with Jesus November 1, 2021. And Mother’s Day weekend is one that I was not looking forward to because I knew what those waves of grief would carry to the shore.
On Mother’s Day 2021, my mother stood on the platform with me in celebration of Mother’s Day. I was pregnant with my fifth child, Gianna, and it was just four months before my mom unexpectedly went into the hospital. Little did we know then that it would be the last Mother’s Day with our mom here on earth. We can still celebrate and honor my mom, even as she’s in heaven. But those of you who have lost people, you know it’s definitely not the same.
Because of all the COVID restrictions while she was in the hospital, we weren’t able to visit her right away. Finally, when we were able to go in and see her, she immediately had to go on a ventilator, and she was unresponsive due to the paralytics. The longer she was nonresponsive in the hospital, the more days went by that I wasn’t able to experience her being fully alive and engaged in my life. Her absence made me realize more and more how powerful her daily presence truly was in my life and my kids’ lives.
One night after coming home from the hospital, I went upstairs to sit in my son’s room in his rocking chair. I started to cry, thinking about the reality of my life at that moment.
A Heavenly Influence on Earth
I sat there just thinking about the influence my mom had on me, how I missed her daily presence and the empty spaces that now existed. Instead of generalizing the empty space of what I was missing, I began to write down specific ways that my mom, Terri McAuliff filled up my life, naming the empty space that I was feeling.
I also was so overwhelmed, thinking about the powerful role of a mother and God’s desire for that role to be represented here on earth.
It’s a calling for all of His daughters, whether it’s with our own children or spiritual children.
It’s His purpose for us to show up in our world and represent His character through His tenderness, His ability to provide a safe space for His nurturing Spirit, His attentiveness, His delight in the details, His spoken truth and love and His compassion and protectiveness. All these things show up when we say “Yes” to be a godly mother to those around us. It’s not limited to whether we have our own kids or not.
On previous Mother’s Day weekends, when my mom was here, and I had the opportunity to celebrate and encourage all the moms, I have been so sensitive, and at times, so overwhelmed with the pain and the grief that this day can bring for people. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive to the emotions in the room, but not at the expense of downplaying the celebration and honor due (Romans 13:7). It’s more so just a posture of my heart of genuinely not wanting to stir up any more grief or pain this day may represent as I thought about people who:
- Did not grow up with a mother.
- Didn’t have a godly mother.
- Long to be a mom of your own kids.
- Have experienced a miscarriage, like I have.
- Or carry the personal shame of where we’ve missed it as moms.
When grief and pain are present, it can make us want to hold back from celebrating what we have, because of what others don’t have or because of what we don’t have. When we hold back our celebration because of our pain and our grief, we also hold back honor when honor is due.
So, in the painful moment of thinking about the space that my mom occupied and her influence, I decided in that rocking chair while my mom was in the hospital, that no matter what happened to my mom, I would never allow grief to overshadow or downplay the celebration and honor of motherhood! Even though I miss my mom greatly, that doesn’t mean I need to tone down the celebration and the honor of being a mom to my own five kids.
You and I serve a big enough God that we can fully celebrate without diminishing or denying our pain or grief. God can help us do both! Just because this day reminds me and perhaps you too, loss, it doesn’t make it any less of a day to celebrate. I think it is a part of God’s process of making beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
My five kids (all under the age of 8 at the time of this story) are so funny. They make me laugh – when I’m not annoyed by what they’re doing. It’s hilarious. I was watching my 10-month-old, Gianna crack up at my four-year-old, Beniah. He came into the room with his boxing gloves. I guess he just came out of the shower because he was naked. And he was doing his thing with his little punching bag that he got for his birthday. Gianna was laughing – her little 10-month-old self thought it was so funny.
I have so many moments I miss sharing with my mom. One of the things I miss the most is the shared joy from the experiences with my kids. I have moments with my kids that I actually enjoy more knowing my mom would enjoy them as well. Of course, I can share these moments with my dad, my husband, Paul and my great friends and spiritual moms. But nothing compares to sharing it with your own mom. My mom would think it was so funny.
An Invitation from Heaven
I asked myself, What is the emotion I want to share with my mom right now? It’s not just the memory but the bond that connects you with people, just being able to share the exact same emotion at the same time. I realized that emotion was joy – I just would love to share this joy with my mom.
Then, I felt this invitation from heaven. God does not force His way in, but He absolutely is knocking at the door of our hearts. And I felt this impression from heaven that said, “Can I try?”
It wasn’t an audible voice. Jesus didn’t show up in the room, but it was like when I’m cooking in the kitchen and my kids want to be a part of it. And they say, “Can I try that too?”
That’s what the message from heaven felt like to me. Like, “Can I try the joy that you want to share with your mom in this moment? Can I try, as your heavenly Father?”
It means so much to me because it wasn’t abrupt. It wasn’t like He was saying “Shouldn’t I be enough?” No, it was a sweet invitation. When God comes into the emptiness of our hearts, He brings His full self in. He is so graceful, sweet and tender. When I bring my full self into a room, my passion can be misinterpreted as anger or frustration.
I began to say, “Yes, God, I want that. What would that look like?”
He is so capable of sharing that emotion with me. Why? Because He is joy; He created joy. Not only did He create joy, but He also created the very beings that I was enjoying. The reality is He was actually able to share the joy of the moment even more with me than my mom ever did or ever will.
Sharing Emotions with God
And God loves to share the other emotions that you would call negative with us too. How can we call an emotion negative when it was emotion that God created? Because He is just as much in sadness as He is joy. He is just as much in grief as He is in celebration. He is just as much in anger as He is gratitude. Why? Because He created our emotions. Sometimes we don’t know how to handle those negative emotions. So, we run away from them, or we deny them.
I serve a big enough God, who meets me in my emotion.
This is a permission slip from your heavenly Father that says, “I am big enough so that whatever emotions come with your daily life, let me meet you in all of it because I can! I can in the aftermath of grief and disappointment and loss and betrayal and rejection.”
It can feel like a crater that’s so deep you can’t even see the bottom. If you open the door to the knocking of your heart from your heavenly Father, He will absolutely fill the gaps and overflow your cups.
It doesn’t make me miss my mom any less. It doesn’t make me more glad that she’s in heaven. I would love for her to be here right now. But God proves to me – over and over again – that until heaven, we do not have to keep living with empty glasses. The Holy Spirit is on this earth to bring comfort, to bring joy, to bring peace, to bring life and to help you move from anger to joy. There’s a part of celebration that really does bring beauty from ashes.
As a dynamic speaker, Ashley Daugherty has a passion for people to know Jesus and have a life-changing encounter with Him. Ashley and her husband, Paul, lead a thriving community of believers at Victory Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a mission to connect people to God and each other, equip them to fulfill their God-given purpose, and empower the church to reach out locally and globally with God’s love. In addition to her ministry work, Ashley is a devoted wife and mother of five. victory.com