I wanted to share something with you, my readers, that is a little more serious than my usual posts. It is a tender topic, and though I may ruffle some feathers, I ask that you be tender in your comments.
I am in a complicated relationship right now. With God. I have been taking some things apart, deconstructing if you will, for the past few years. Some of the things that I have been taught about God my whole life just aren’t making sense anymore. Things like substitutionary atonement. How the Bible was written and put together, and how do we know that something really important wasn’t left out? Or that something is in there that shouldn’t be? And why did people stop writing the Bible? Did God say he was done writing Scripture? The way that the church approaches many present-day issues, particularly inclusion of LGBTQ in our faith communities. The fact that Jesus continually criticized the legalism of the Pharisees, and yet as evangelical Christians we have a specific prayer to pray and a way to behave in order to “go to heaven”. And if praying that prayer–the one where we “believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths” (John 3:16) is what is required, what about all of the people that walked the earth before Jesus? This carrot on a stick theology–it just doesn’t resonate anymore. I believe that this God I believe in is bigger than that, but right now all the puzzle pieces of my faith are scattered on the floor, and I am turning them all right-side up, looking for edges and corners to get my bearings.
I have been thinking a lot about being made in God’s image. We throw that phrase around a lot in Christianity, don’t we? I am made in the image of God. So are you. We are his image bearers, all. And yet–God is always spoken of as a Father. Jesus was a man. I sometimes have thoughts that, though Jesus walked the earth for three decades, lowering himself to walk among humanity, what does he really know of being a woman, or a girl? What does he know of all of the complicated issues that women face? Of growing into a body that is objectified, oppressed, and sexualized; of periods and pregnancy and giving birth; of miscarriage and mothering, breastfeeding and potty training. I secretly felt like God was probably limited in this area.
But wait–if I’m a woman, and I am God’s image-bearer, doesn’t God have just as many characteristics of the female sex? Perhaps he is not as I, as many of us, have conjured him up to be in our minds–a Gandolf-like man, on a throne, sitting in an exclusive country club we call heaven. Perhaps God is just as much woman as he is man. Perhaps She is just as much a mother, as He is a Father. Not 50% male and 50% female, not either/or. God is and/both.
I heard a poem on a podcast recently that immediately made my eyes well up. The kind of tears that come when you know you are hearing something profoundly true. I really can’t stop thinking about it. It is slowly changing the way I think of God, I think for the better. I thought maybe you would like to read it also.
God Our Mother
To be a Mother is to suffer;
To travail in the dark,
stretched and torn,
exposed in half-naked humiliation,
subjected to indignities
for the sake of new life.
To be a Mother is to say,
“This is my body, broken for you,”
And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,
“This is my body, take and eat.”
To be a Mother is to self-empty,
To neither slumber nor sleep,
so attuned You are to cries in the night—
Offering the comfort of Yourself,
and assurances of “I’m here.”
To be a Mother is to weep
over the fighting and exclusions and wounds
your children inflict on one another;
To long for reconciliation and brotherly love
and—when all is said and done—
To gather all parties, the offender and the offended,
into the folds of your embrace
and to whisper in their ears
that they are Beloved.
To be a mother is to be vulnerable—
To be misunderstood,
For the heartaches of the bewildered children
who don’t know where else to cast
the angst they feel
over their own existence
in this perplexing universe
To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips those on whom your image is imprinted,
bearing the burden of their weight,
rejoicing in their returned affection,
delighting in their wonder,
bleeding in the presence of their pain.
To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,
And injustice the next.
To be the Receiver of endless demands,
Absorber of perpetual complaints,
Reckoner of bottomless needs.
To be a mother is to be an artist;
A keeper of memories past,
Weaver of stories untold,
Visionary of lives looming ahead.
To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,
And the first disregarded;
To be a Mender of broken creations,
And Comforter of the distraught children
whose hands wrought them.
To be a mother is to be a Touchstone
and the Source,
Bestower of names,
Influencer of identities;
Printed with permission
Happy Mother’s Day, friends. We are loved by our Mother.