Mother's Day revisited

It is amazing how fast the days, weeks, months and yes, years go by the older that a person gets.

I cannot believe that it is nearly mid-May and the celebration of Mother's Day is before us! Maybe you are like me -- Mother's Day, among other holidays, always seems to sneak up on me and sometimes my response to this date on the calendar could be equated as "status quo" activity.

Many years I have found myself scrambling the day before Mother's Day. "Oh no, I did not buy the greeting card and get it out in the mail yet!" And then comes the propensity to throw money at my dilemma by trying to arrange a time when I can take my mother to lunch or dinner and buy her a hanging basket or some other Mother's Day special. And so, I have caved in to the retailing and marketing bonanzas that many of our holidays have become. In a sense, my expression of love has slid into the ditch of being more of a duty.

However, you might already know, this was not what Anna Jarvis had in mind for Mother's Day and neither should we. Jarvis -- never married, never a mother -- campaigned for almost a decade to dedicate a day to honor mothers. She chose a Sunday because she wanted it to be a "holy" day, not a holiday, and the second Sunday in May because it was the anniversary of the death of her own beloved mother. Finally, in 1914 the U.S. Congress passed the bill making Mother's Day official.

A day of meaningful and sincere reflection on one's own mother was the vision Jarvis had for Mother's Day. Jarvis wanted the day to be about sentiment, not profits, and was very aggressive about this belief. She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive (Mother's Day), for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive (Mothers' Day) commemorating all mothers in the world.

The Bible similarly teaches that we are to honor our mothers. The fifth of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." The key word here is "honor." It simply means to show respect and love. We do that as youngsters by obeying instructions and revering our parents with our attitudes.

Also, Matthew Henry, a commentator on the Bible, says that honoring your parents in their advanced years means, "Endeavoring, in every thing, to be their comfort, and to make their old age easy to them, maintaining them if they stand in need of support."

This honoring focus should be a general attitude of our hearts that is only enhanced on Mother's Day. We show our mother respect and love every day by esteeming her inwardly, cherishing her individuality, caring for her needs as they arise, and by bringing our mother happiness by how we live.

We can easily get on the wrong track about Mother's Day. It is a day that gives us a chance to enhance our respect and love by a special and sincere expression. So the question is, what does this expression of appreciation for our mothers look like? We can take the time to think through why our mothers are worthy of honor. What has your mom done specifically in your life that has brought great benefit to you?

I think mothers deserve our thanks -- a lot! Having said that, I recognize that not everyone has or has had a healthy relationship with their mother, but maybe these shared thoughts can help you to think about one gift to you.

I encourage you to not just say "Happy Mother's Day," but also to think back about the gift your mother gave you. How has your mother sacrificed for you? And then do the difficult thing (especially for us guys) by finding the right way to articulate that. Jarvis suggested a single white carnation and a heartfelt letter. I highly recommend writing out your "gift," describing your mother's gift to you, but at the very least, invest some time to think through and point out in conversation how your mom's self-sacrifice has had impact on you.

Are you feeling "dutified" about Mother's Day? Is your prep for Mother's Day just another task on the list that you need to rush through? You can change that by expressing your respect and love in a heartfelt way.

Imagine how mothers across our community and all over would feel if all of us took the time to reflect and write out our respect and love for them. 

I took Jarvis up on her suggestion. I got my handwritten card out on Wednesday. If it's too late for you -- if the brunch is done and the basket is already hanging -- write the letter anyway!

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 9:30 a.m. Sundays at the Petoskey Cinema and 11 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.
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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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