She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come. Prov 31:25
I have an amazing mother, who raised me and my sister on her own, working hard and relying on the family of church and neighbours when her own lived wide across the state. It's a testimony to faith, really, that when she was alone in a big city with two little girls, men of God came alongside her. Women of God looked after her. And we were not alone, raised by our mother, and the Church.
The Church, she is not perfect. There was a time or two when she was found terribly wanting and absent, when we were in crisis and the hand of help was withdrawn. My mother was not a widow, you see, and we were not orphans. Not in the technical sense, anyway. And though she grieved and cried, wounded, my mother held on to faith. To God. She forgave, and waited for the Church to come around.
My mother's story is the story of a million mothers. And our story, my sister's and mine, could've been told a million different ways. Runaways and lonely girls longing for a daddy's love, and now that we know better - the world knows better - we see those runaways and lonely girls for what they were: taken and abused and trafficked and worse. That could've been our story, too, for girls without fathers at home are easy targets. And who's to say that we did not have a bullseye on our backs a time or two?
But we had our mother, and the Church, and we were saved in more ways than one.
So when I think of mother's day, I think of my mother who held on, holds on still. Giver of life and love, firmly fixed on Him. My greatest champion and my oldest friend.
I think of the women in our church, who watched me walk down the aisle with tears in their eyes. I think of the men who took us mother's day shopping, helped us pick out necklaces and bouquets. I think of Matt who was prayed for by dozens of saints before my shoelaces were ever untied.
I think of my grandmothers - all still living - who mothered us from near or far, asking for strength and mercy, forgiving. I think of my aunts, who made room in their homes and hearts for two wild girls. I think of my stepmother, who is loved, adored by a mess of grandchildren. I think of Matt's mom, who filled in some of my chipped edges, still rising with the sun to hold a grandchild on her knee.
I think of all my sisters, brought together by pain or circumstance, flourishing through grace, my best friends and fellow warriors. I think of so many women, mothering me and my children in service, in teaching, in song, in prayers.
Women of valour. All of you.
That's the thing about mother's day. In one way or another, we are all mothers. We're in it together, not meant to be alone.