“The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. And Sarah declared, ‘God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me.’” Genesis 21:1, 6
Mother’s Day can be complicated… or maybe complex is a better description.
This Sunday, as we celebrate the incredible influence that mothers have on our lives, the imagery of a bouquet comes to mind. The most stunning bouquets are those with a variety of flowers, colors, and textures… all brought together in one beautiful arrangement, meant to be a gift.
One of my favorite mothers in the Bible is Sarah. Her story begins at the end of Genesis chapter 11. Sarah was Abraham’s wife, and she was barren. What an introduction. She was identified by what she was and what she wasn’t. Can you relate?
When God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, Sarah realized her inadequacy. She felt so inadequate she told Abraham to have a child with her servant. (Spoiler alert – that didn’t end well.) But God was not intimidated by what Sarah was not. He came back to Abraham and clarified his promise. “But God said, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed, and you shall name him Isaac (laughter).” Genesis 17:19
Abraham would be the father of many nations… and Sarah would be the mother. Abraham couldn’t have God’s promise without her. God was not going to leave Sarah out… he promised her laughter.
Sarah’s story of motherhood is extremely complex. Longing. Love. Loss. Jealousy. Inadequacy. Pride. Humility. Honor. Joy. Hope. Fear. Laughter. Each of these complex moments made up an incredible bouquet of God’s goodness in Sarah’s life, and He fulfilled His promise to her.
We all have our first experiences with Mother’s Day as children. Maybe you celebrated your mom with flowers and breakfast in bed or maybe you felt the ache of loss or the shame of what “should be” but definitely was not. Then girls become women and we experience another layer of complexity because motherhood has a profound impact on our own identity… what we are and what we are not.
Maybe you recognize some of the “flowers” from Sarah’s bouquet in your own. Whether you are looking forward to motherhood, are engulfed in it, are looking back on a season of it, or don’t think it is for you, I’m guessing you have some pretty complex moments in your bouquet. But that is just it. Motherhood is not a “one size fits all” arrangement. It is unique and complex and beautiful. And it is a gift that we can give the world around us.
I have a wonderful mom who has loved us sacrificially and is always willing to do anything she can for me. I have a wonderful mother-in-love who believes in me and cheers me on. I have spiritual mothers who have defined my life so profoundly that I would not be who I am today without their influence (some of them have biological children and some do not.) I have two sons who are the best of me and have also made me grapple with my worst. I have been blessed to invest in the lives of teenagers over the years, and pray I have deposited something lasting in them.
All of this is motherhood. It is giving life. It is giving our life away. It is complex moments… memories… maybes. It will look unique for each of us, but if we invite God to gather up all those complex pieces of our story into a big bouquet, we will discovery beauty. We have something to give. We can experience God’s promise of laughter that is custom made just for us.
This Mother’s Day, I want to encourage you to embrace the complexity of your story. Let God meet you in this moment and give you laughter. Let others laugh with you as you give your life and love away.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful women who love and live and laugh with us.
Pastor Jenny Baird is the Youth Central Director and Pastors our Winchester Campus alongside her husband Shawn. She loves anything Magnolia (Chip & Joanna Gaines) related, bird-themed, Hallmark, and truffle-infused popcorn. Youth is her passion and she absolutely loves growing her leaders to impact the next generation.
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