Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

Mother’s Day is over, but for some, the emotions –happy or sad – linger.

I recently spent some time with a young friend who is struggling with her role in the family and in the Church. Her feelings were exacerbated by the calendar – Mother’s Day happened to be the next Sunday. 

She’s been married eight years and is watching her friends start and grow their families. Although she wants to be a mother, it doesn’t seem to be God’s plan for her at this time.

MomThis past Sunday I saw a host of Mother’s Day posts on Facebook. Most proclaimed gratitude for their moms and mothers-in-law, or lovingly blessed the children who call them “Mom.” Many longed for one more opportunity to hug a mom who is no longer with them. One writer-friend wrote, “praying for those for whom Mother’s Day comes with tears.” Someone else wrote a blog post explaining why she avoids church that day. She could no longer deal with the pitying looks because she remained seated when the pastor asked all the mothers to stand.

Mother’s Day passed with mixed emotions for me, too. I’m committed to the Lord and to His Church, yet there are times I, too, wonder how I fit into the body of Christ, especially in light of the emphasis on women’s roles as moms. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom, and I have the utmost admiration for the eternal contribution of women who have poured their lives into raising future generations.

question markAs a woman and a teacher, however, I’m sometimes filled with doubt. I teach a weekly Bible study class of 180+ women. When I was first asked into this role, I wondered what I could offer mothers and grandmothers in the way of encouragement. After all, what did I know about conceiving life? Or the pains of labor? Or watching a living, breathing piece of my heart walk around outside my body? Is it possible for a woman who is not a mother to still have an eternal contribution?

When I turn to God’s Word during these times, my encouragement does not come from women in the Bible. Instead, I draw comfort from the apostle Paul. This godly man, who did not appear to have physical children of his own, often used parental terms as he wrote to believers. 

  • He cared for them as a loving mother might:

“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (I Thessalonians 2:7-8).

  • He disciplined them as a tender father would:

“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you” (I Corinthians 4:14). 

  • He trained up the next generation of Christian believers and leaders:

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy my true son in the faith” (I Timothy 1:1-2).

  • He poured himself out without reservation for his spiritual children:

“I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?” (II Corinthians 12:14-15).

I may not be a mom in the physical sense, but my prayer is that, like Paul, I will use the gifts God gave me to draw people to Him, encourage His children, and give Him all the glory.

This past Mother’s Day may have been a joy for you or it may have been a bittersweet day that you’re glad is over for another year. Either way, may you know the contentment of being and doing exactly what God has called you to be and do, right where you are. Exercising the gifts He gave you for His glory – whatever they are – is indeed your eternal contribution…and mine, too!

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  1. Nicole L Rivera

    Awesome post, Ava! We don’t have to birth children to be mothers. We are mothers becuase we use what God has given us and pour ourselves out for others.

    Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

    Many blessings,

  2. Paulette

    Thanks Ava for a kind and thoughtful blog post.

  3. Paul Coan Williams

    Nice post Ava. And thanks for the tweeting tips which took me to your site. I was struck by the similarity in titles of your published work and mine on my site (unpublished) “My two years with God, or How I lost My Vocation.”
    Best wishes

  4. admin

    Thank you, Paul.

  5. Bethany

    GREAT post, Ava. So many need to hear this message. I loved the way you put it when you said, “being and doing exactly what God has called you to be and do, right where you are. Exercising the gifts He gave you for His glory – whatever they are – is indeed your eternal contribution…and mine, too.” And that’s just it, too: We are custom creations of God, created JUST AS WE ARE–in every way–for HIS purposes. And that truth brings significance and satisfaction whether we are a physical or spiritual parent. Thanks for sharing such an encouraging message.

  6. admin

    Thanks, Bethany. I like the two words you used: significance and satisfaction. Both come from fulfilling the purpose God has for us!

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