This past Sunday was a very special first for me – the first Mother’s Day where I, too, was celebrated as a mom. With both my husband and my family living close by, we make a point to see both our families for most holidays. Knowing it would be a busy weekend, our little family of three celebrated my Mother’s Day on Saturday (with a 5K walk for my school, strawberry picking, a yummy dinner at home and strawberry shortcake). My son and husband also made me a picture gift (Eli is holding the letters to spell MOM – so precious). It was a sweet, sweet day I know I’ll always cherish.
Then, on Sunday, we visited both our moms. We took dinner and gifts for each one, hoping to make their day special and show them our appreciation for years of caring for us and loving us well. This year, because I am a mom, I was a bit more reflective about the holiday than normal.
I’m a gift-giver – it’s one of my love languages. Regardless of the holiday, I think long and hard about the gift I will give, and try to imagine the receiver’s response when they open it. I keep a little section in the back of my planner with ideas. Whenever I hear someone mention something they need, or would like to have, or something they really like that belongs to someone else, I make a note to refer back to when an occasion comes around (or, even better, for no occasion at all). It’s how I give and receive love.
Last year I got my mom pearl earrings. The freshwater pearls were beautifully nested in gold rings, and they were perfect for my mom. I remember thinking that I’d done it. I’d gotten her a wonderful gift, one that would adequately show my appreciation and “repay her” for all she had done as my mom.
Oh, how naïve I was! Though my son is only five months old, he has taught me a great deal about motherhood already. More than anything else, I’ve learned that being a mom requires a great deal of sacrifice. My needs and desires are secondary to his. My time is not my own. This dear, sweet little boy is completely and utterly dependent on me, and my job is to care for him well. This means getting up for feedings in the middle of the night, when I’m exhausted. It means missing a nap because he won’t go down, and reading countless children’s books instead of my own. It means buying onesies and rompers instead of jeans and dresses, diaper bags instead of purses. It means he eats before I do (and often heating and reheating food).
When I think of these few sacrifices I’ve made for Eli thus far, I am overwhelmed by all my mother did for me. She has loved me well, sacrificed tremendously, and met my needs and wants with delight. Oh, how silly to think that pearl earrings (or any other attempt at gift giving) could repay her. Also, what a joy to realize that her love for me, shown in these sacrifices, never asked to be repaid. She didn’t love me well for Mother’s Day – for the gifts she might one day receive. That’s not how a mother’s heart works.
I am reminded that it is the same with God. Because I am a gift-giver, and tend to be very performance-based, I often think that I need to earn God’s love and good gifts. And, certainly, I should at least try to “repay” him with my own “gifts”. I tend to think that if I share the gospel, pray and read my Bible enough, act better and give away more money, that I will somehow compensate God for what he’s done for me. Again, this is silly.
My gifts to God (or my mom), no matter how good they are, or how well thought out, will never be good enough. Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect and ultimate – my sacrifices for Eli, even when he is most needy, don’t come close. God didn’t send his Son to die for us so that we would try to repay him. He didn’t do it so that we might futilely attempt to compensate with prayer, Bible reading or evangelism. He did out of his loving heart – he considered it his JOY to give of himself for his children.
This Mother’s Day I was reminded of two things: to try to imitate God’s sacrificial love to my son, and to be thankful for all He’s done, grateful that I am not required to pay Him back.
By Mary M.