We often talk about the “fatherless” in reference to orphans, but why not the “motherless”?
Moms are the bedrock of life– and on Mother’s Day my prayer is that we’ll remember that the “fatherless” are also the “motherless”.
Today I had the chance to go worship with African Anabaptists, and I was drooling at the thought of it. Yet, in the end, I decided to forgo that opportunity so I could spend Mother’s Day playing “mom” to the motherless.
It was worth it.
I’d be a crappy mom in real life, but today I did my best to represent them well.
My worship service in this day took place behind the dark walls of an orphanage… and my worship took the form of holding, cradling, and trying to comfort the “motherless”.
Some would not be comforted, so I had to break out moves I’ve seen my wife do with kids sometimes. I plopped them on my knee, got my best mechanical horse impression going, and said:
Trot, trot to Boston,
Trot, troy to Lynn,
You’d better watch out,
Or you’re gonna fall in!
And, just as I’ve seen the kids giggle as she bounces her knee and says that rhyme, it worked for me too.
Holding some of the children, I noticed out of the corer of my eye a toddler who couldn’t walk because of an obvious condition, who yet crawled across the floor to land at my feet. Sitting there, his eyes locked with mine and didn’t take long for those little arms to reach high in the air– the most moving “please hold me” moment of my life.
As I picked him up off that dirty floor, I gave him the best mom cuddle I could muster up.
There’s something special about the way that moms hug, so I spent my Mother’s Day at the end of a trash littered, muddy road, and tried to love on a room full of kids with good ole mom-hugs.
Sitting in that lonely room I was reminded how thankful I am that God also recognizes that sometimes, only a mom’s love will do.
In Isiah 49:15, God compares himself to a nursing mother and says “can a mother forget the baby nursing from her breast? Even though she might be able to, I will never forget you”. We also see Jesus use feminine imagery, comparing himself to a mother hen as he wept over Jerusalem.
Yes, God knows that there’s something special about a mother’s love– which is why sometimes, God becomes a mother too.
Perhaps you struggle with connecting with God because of exclusive uses of male imagery. If so, let me encourage you with the reminder that both God “the father” and Jesus “the son” at times describe themselves using feminine symbolism. If this is something that is getting in the way of you connecting with God, my hope is that you will take comfort in Her momishness.
Just as I hope those kids at the orphanage were able to take comfort, if even for a moment, in this guy’s momishness.
This Mother’s Day, may we remember all those who no longer have a living mother, those who are waiting for a mother… and most of all, may we give thanks– to God, our mother.
Side note: some of these kids are technically no longer “motherless” or “fatherless” as they have completed adoptions. However, their immigration department has a temporary suspension of immigration documents, which forbids them to travel to their adoptive families abroad. As a result, hundreds of adopted children remain in orphanages, unable to be united with their new family. The many families in this situation, I am sure, would welcome your prayers.
What a beautiful way to celebrate mothers. Well done, Ben.
Well done, Ben! Thank you for getting your mom on for these precious jewels! You make me so proud to be your friend.
Many children that live in orphanages actually have living mothers and fathers (and not only because they are being adopted), but due to extreme poverty they are often left in orphanages because of desperate situations. This is certainly the case in DRC. There are some amazing programs in Uganda that work to reunite children with their families (like Child’s i Foundation, Abide Family Center, and Reunite).
Yup, totally agree. Many, perhaps even most cases, kids are abandoned due to poverty. I have an upcoming piece about that in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, this still leaves kids “motherless” on a functional level. I am hoping we will continue to invest in anti-poverty programs to prevent kids being orphaned in the first place.
I’ll look forward to reading your next piece. I think I have a hard time with the term “motherless” or “fatherless” unless it is followed up by an explanation. There is a common assumption that most children that live in orphanages are “orphans” when they in fact, most are not (as you pointed out). Referring to all children who live in orphanages as “orphans” often guides who we give and what projects we support. When we make the distinction that most of the children have families, it encourages us to support programs that strengthen families and also ones in which children are then reunited with their parent/s.