“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux
A few years ago, something happened to me that changed my perspective on what motherhood really means. I remember it as if it were yesterday. At the time, my prayers were focused on one thing: becoming a good mother.
I wanted to be a good mother to my newborn son. And, as the wife of a priest, I wanted to learn how to be a mother of the church. Both are overwhelming tasks, tasks that I cannot handle on my own. So I looked to the best mentor and guide I could find for this vocation: the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of our Savior Jesus Christ.
At the time, there was a group of young women I was discipling in a small group. We were growing in the Word of God. We had spiritual retreats and fellowship outings. We had fun too – with cooking nights and having them over to spend the night.
After some years together, each one of them began to get busy with other things in life: one had a new boyfriend (a wonderful man but a member of another church); another had a booming career; another had an opportunity to lead a choir at another church. Now, these don’t look bad on the surface but it started taking them away from our church and their service with us.
My immediate response: WHAT DID I DO WRONG? Some kind of “mother” I was to these women! Why couldn’t I have influenced their decisions differently?
The guilt and sadness was overwhelming. Here I was a missionary “mother” in Africa (they call me “Mama Dalia”) here to equip and grow the next generation of leaders in our churches and I couldn’t do it! I always encouraged them to spread their wings – but I didn’t want them to leave Mama’s nest (i.e., our church). After all, was it wrong to want our own church to be strong?
All these questions were whirling in my head, when out of the midst of chaos was a still, small voice – “Don’t give up on them.”
It was a mother’s voice. It was a voice of a mother who has had years of experience . . . and heartbreak. I had given up. I had stopped praying for them. I had stopped caring for them. I had stopped discipling them when it did not benefit me anymore. I had stopped being a mother.
One of the Virgin Mary’s greatest sermons was in John 2:5, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” She is telling the servants at the wedding in Cana of Galilee to listen to whatever Jesus tells them.
Would Jesus tell me to give up as a mother?
He never gave up. His life was a sacrifice to many, to me. He never gave up on me when He should have many times! Yet, He is a faithful Father who never gives up.
My message is one of hope for those who are leading anyone (even if you are not a mother). The message is DO NOT GIVE UP!
- Don’t give up praying for that lost family member.
- Don’t give up reaching out to that broken person that doesn’t know how to have a relationship.
- Don’t give up witnessing to a non-believer.
- Don’t give up visiting.
- Don’t give up encouraging.
- Don’t give up loving.
This is just a glimpse of the heart of a mother. She doesn’t give up even if it takes her to the Cross.
For discussion: What one lesson can you take away from the “mother heart” of Virgin Mary?