Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I couldn’t help but notice a more common trend this year. All over social media, women (many, if not most of them biological moms) were empowering other women who may not be called “mom” by anyone, but have certainly built the legacy of a mother.
Women whose hearts are yearning to hold a baby of their own, women who have held babies brought to them by unimaginable circumstances through fostering, women in the process of declaring adoptive children as much their own as if they grew within their own bellies, and women who have sown just as many spiritual seeds and created just as much of an impact through discipleship as any other “mom” on the planet.
Merriam Webster gives three definitions of the word “mother”:
- a. to give birth to
b. to produce
- to care for or protect like a mother
A mother is someone who produces life in another human being, whether it be biological, emotional, or spiritual. (Mothers cannot create life, only God is the Creator of life in any form. But they can certainly take what He has created and produce something with it.) Giving birth is only one part of producing what God has created, and you can certainly produce life without being the one to contribute that aspect.
Being a mother is a state of heart – “to care for or protect”. To care about someones needs as higher than your own. To nurture them. To guide them. To offer advice and encouragement. To support them. To keep showing up even when you’re tired and it’s inconvenient. To be a safe space oozing with grace that helps the love and mercy of God seem tangible. To love them enough to tell the truth. To always point them back to what truly sustains them and gives them life. This is what it means to be a mother.
I am not married and not a mom, but I think one of the most common concepts of motherhood is feeling as though there are pieces of your heart walking around outside of your body. And if this is the case, then I must be a mother. When I think about the girls who have allowed me into their world and given me the privilege of discipling them, I can’t help but feel like something I have invested myself into is now taking flight. Like my reach is reaching beyond myself, because it is now reaching the lives of everyone they touch. This is being a mother.
And so whether you have carried a life inside of you or not, when you take the life inside of you that is your own and you reproduce it by giving it to someone else, you have given birth to something beautiful. You have replicated. And if you have stayed and nurtured that life until it is grown and developed enough to begin replicating itself, you know what it means to mother.