The other day, my wife and I were having a heartfelt conversation with our daughter about comparisons. She had been comparing herself to some other people at school who were “good at everything” while she was seemingly “good at nothing.” Isn’t that always the way the devil wants us to feel?
We told her people have strengths and weaknesses and that’s a good thing. Her mother and I have our areas of strengths and weaknesses and we work well together as a team.
Then my daughter – who was looking like she was feeling a little better about herself – asked us, “what is something mommy is better at than daddy?”
My wife looked at me with expectant eyes and my mind went inconveniently blank.
…wait, what’s happening? What’s going on here? Is this a trick question? I want my mommy!
I’m sure I had a panic-stricken, deer-in-the-headlight look on my face like the dad in Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out when they’re at the dinner table.
Uhh…Thinking, honey. Your mom is better at using her brain and forming words.
Five excruciatingly slow seconds later my mouth opened and words came out. When I say, “my mouth opened,” I mean my dropped jaw remained agape. And when I say, “words came out,” they were definitely sounds. I’m not sure what I said exactly, but it must have been passable because I don’t recall getting kicked under the table or receiving a disapproving look from my wife. Honestly, I’m a bit unsure about how it all went down. I’m probably still suffering from the effects of PTSD.
The truth is, there’s a huge list of things mothers are better at than fathers just like there’s a huge list of things fathers are better at than mothers. Without question, we absolutely complement each other. Where a father falls short, a mother is there to pick him up. When a mother is lacking in a certain area, a father steps in to fill the gap. A perfect pairing.
Why is that?
We have all been (rightly) taught that God is our Perfect Father, but guess what…God is also our Perfect Mother.
I know it may sound strange since the vast majority of what we see in scripture describes God as Father (as opposed to Mother), but is that truly meant to be gender specific? After all, only one Person of the Trinity has ever taken on human form.
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” God is too big for His image to be stuffed into one gender. He had to create two different genders to better capture a semblance of His image. In short, males embody God’s power and strength while women embody God’s compassion and beauty.
Think about some of the character traits you associate with the ideal mother. Perhaps you’re thinking of your own mother. Maybe a friend’s mother from your childhood. Some of you are probably thinking, “I am the ideal mother!”
What makes a mother great? Here’s a very short, far from exhaustive list of some of the things you may be thinking of.
A Mother is Comforting
If one of my kids gets hurt in some way and comes seeking comfort, they know they will receive it from me as their father. However, if they get hurt in some way, come seeking comfort and see that my wife and I are both standing there, 9 times out 10 they will seek the comfort from my wife. Not because I’m incapable as a father, but because she embodies it as a mother. Where did she get it?
God said in Isaiah 66:13, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Don’t get it backwards. This isn’t just an illustration of how God will comfort His people; it’s also a window into where a mother’s ability to comfort her child actually comes from.
A Mother is Compassionate
Truth be told, this is what I told my daughter my wife is much better at than I am. My wife can show my kids compassion and empathy on a much greater scale than I can. I hear someone crying and I think, now what!?
“You bumped your knee? Oh, that stinks…you’re fine, get over it!”
If my kids want compassion, they go to mom.
Jesus expressed God’s position concerning the “children” of Jerusalem (i.e. Israelites) in Matthew 23:37. He said He wanted to shelter them under His wing as a hen gathers her chicks.
A Mother provides Safety
Listen to the language David uses in Psalm 131:2. “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” David describes his relationship with God as though he were a child of about 4 or 5 years old, completely content and satisfied, at peace at his mother’s side, trusting her to take care of his every need.
Our youngest turns 6 years old this week and my wife and I were just talking about how sweet and innocent he still is. He certainly has an opinion and mind of his own, but he is still at the age where he seeks out our hand as we are walking through a store. He still wants to snuggle. He still tries to “be in the love” and wedges his way in between my wife and I as we embrace in the kitchen.
It’s that kind of relational dynamic between and child and a mother to which David likens his relationship with God.
A Mother is Protective
We all know you should never stand between a mama bear and her cubs, right? God said in Hosea 13:8, “I will attack them like a bear robbed of her cubs and tear open the rib cage over their hearts. I will devour them there like a lioness, like a wild beast that would rip them open.”
Ephraim was one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. When Israel split into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, the North was led by King Jeroboam, an Ephraimite. In the effort to keep his subjects from returning to the temple in Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom to worship God, he had idols built in the North for the people to worship. He led the people of the North away from God, proverbially stepping between a mama bear and her cubs.
(Full disclosure: the passage seems to be more directed at the Israelites themselves for their disobedience rather than Ephraim. You know…personal accountability and such. But the fact remains that Jeroboam led Israel astray and according to Jesus in Mark 9:42, it would be better for someone to have a millstone tied around their neck and thrown into the sea than to cause someone who believes in Him to be led astray.)
A Mother is Self-Sacrificing
One of our closest friends has a child with major medical complications. When the doctors discovered the medical issues her daughter had while still in utero, she was advised to abort the pregnancy because of the potentially life-threatening health complications our friend was experiencing. She gave the doctors an emphatic “NO” to their suggestion, putting her life on the line for her yet-to-be born daughter.
Since then, her daughter has undergone multiple surgeries and lengthy hospital stays. Our friend has called the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford home on numerous occasions. In fact, right now, she and her daughter are being medically transported from OHSU in Portland down to Stanford.
Our friend is once again putting many things in her life aside for the time-being. Notice I didn’t say she is “choosing” to put other things aside because I don’t believe our friend ever once thought about NOT putting all else aside for the benefit of her daughter. She simply does it because it in her DNA to do so.
Why? Because she is the epitome of a self-sacrificing mother.
I’m not about to begin referring to God as Mother, but I do feel it is extremely important to understand that every good and wonderful thing we associate with mothers points directly to an aspect of God’s character.
Mothers are women and women are created in God’s image: beautiful and captivating.
I find my wife extremely physically attractive. I mean she’s gorgeous. But that’s not what makes her – or any woman – truly beautiful.
Consider some more character traits of an ideal mother:
Faithful, Loyal, Dependable, Consistent, Understanding, Joyful, Loving, Forgiving, Supportive, Enjoyable, Empowering, Present, Available, Kind, Gentle, Boundary-Setter for our own good, Full of Grace.
The list could certainly go on and on. These are the things that make my wife truly beautiful; even captivating. It’s also the reason I can say along with other men all around the world that our wives (who are probably shaking their heads in disbelief as we do so) become more and more beautifully captivating with every day that passes by.
I challenge you to find one character trait of an ideal mother that DOES NOT also describe God. The truth is, we can learn a lot about our Heavenly Father by looking at our earthly mothers.
As we celebrate our mothers this Mother’s Day, let’s also remember that those very things which make our mothers great are a living testimony to the wonderful, captivating beauty of our God.