Holidays are hard. Really hard. And they really don’t seem to be getting any easier or less complicated.
I’m not trying to be a Grinch or a Scrooge, honest! I really do like giving gifts and trying to be thoughtful about giving them, rather than just buying anything and shoving it in some wrapping paper. I actually really enjoy planning and creating a kiddo’s birthday party, though hosting one is tricky. And I’m a firm believer in sharing appreciation with whomever and for whatever needs it.
Mother’s Day is tomorrow, and I just want to go for a long, quiet run. Away from it.
Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mom, and I truly do believe it is absolutely the best job I could ever have been given. I adore my children and am blessed to spend 24/7 with them – I actually do pretty much spend that much time with them, minus 2 hours a month for counseling and driving to/from the session, which is not the result of being their mom. I cannot imagine anywhere I’d rather be than living and loving life with my daughters.
Being a mom certainly can be challenging – washing endless loads of laundry and dirty dishes, buying and fixing and feeding hungry mouths with healthy food they often don’t want, nursing newborns until I was bleeding, getting vomited and peed and pooped on for years (which happens when you have several kids in diapers and close together in age), preventing kids from hurting themselves or each other, teaching lessons of love, respect, and responsibility…
The list of jobs I do on a daily basis, much less over the past 7+ years could be endless, if I wanted to point it all out. Which I don’t.
I just don’t want to spend a day saying how wonderful I am for doing what I’ve been called and blessed to do as a mom for my three great little kids. A thank you every now and then is more than enough.
Because there’s this… which is the much bigger problem I have with Mother’s Day and every other holiday…
There are millions, MILLIONS, of children of all ages and races and genders and economic statuses and cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs who do not have a loving, caring presence in their lives. And probably never will.
No families to share a holiday or a birthday.
No families that deserve a thank you card or an I Love You.
No families who have shared more love than pain…
Abandonment, neglect, abuse, drugs, mental illness, slavery, trafficking… such hideous evils ravage baby souls and bodies until shells of humans are left, if survival is even possible.
When mental illness and emotional abuse steal the souls of children, destroying their understanding of love and fear and jumbling the two until doubt and confusion are the only things that remain, when children must parent parents and become the stability for a family they should want to protect and not be protected from, what sentiment can accurately describe this mangled environment or offer gratitude for such a painful life sentence?
When mothers sell their daughters into prostitution multiple times a day or barter their girls away as child brides for food on their tables or drugs to keep a high that’s high enough to block out love and feelings for another, where drugs are pushed into sons’ hands to deal on the streets to pay the bills or guns and knives are provided as the only answer to anger management issues and problem-solving skills, are these parents up for homemade Best Mom or World’s Greatest Dad awards?
When newborns and toddlers and kids of every age are abandoned in bus terminals and thrown into sewer pipes and left for dead in dumpsters, where kids are left for grandparents and aunts and uncles to raise because drug addiction and jail time and unfit parenting rob children of what should have been, how do those kids find it in their hearts to appreciate their lost dreams and lives and love?
When babies are born to imprisoned or addicted mothers who will never adequately care for the hearts that beat in sync for nine months, and who are left in broken foster systems to be bumped around an unknowing number of times until either a prayerfully good family is found or the child ages out in early teens to live alone and afraid, how do these kids find a Hallmark card that appropriately states their emotions?
When kids are living on the streets in homelessness and addiction and are being trafficked because they can’t get legitimately paying jobs at young ages or because a pimp got to them within 48 hours of running away or being thrown away from homes, how are these kids buying candy and flowers with their banged up pre-pubescent bodies?
When children lose parents and parents lose children to death from bad choices or from horrible circumstances, torn away by car accidents and cancer and infertility and overdoses and suicide and every other heart-forsaken thing that can destroy a family and a life, how much comfort is found for these battered and broken hearts in the pipe-dream commercials about the joy of a holiday?
When girls are forced into abortions by parents for whatever supposedly good reason, child molesters and abusers who just want young girl bodies and not baby bellies, sex traffickers whose property can’t be damaged goods for their customers, how are these girls able to celebrate Mother’s Day when their own babies are ripped from their bodies?
When kids are dying every day in every corner of the world from suicide because the other options they’ve been left with are horrendous and volatile and love-less, when kids are slaughtered in the name of religion or power or disease or starvation, why should those babies have celebrated anything?
There are children, whether still young or grown now, who have longed for, prayed for, sold their souls for the love that has been missing or misplaced for lifetimes.
There are children of all ages who have experienced far more pain and suffering and heartache than can possibly be fathomed.
There are children in every community, on every street, of every age and gender and economic status who desperately needed love where there was none, who longed for a parent where one may have been present but not a presence, who craved nothing more than to be accepted and cherished and not swept aside.
Painting a broad brush of happiness on a holiday where so much pent-up pain is glossed over only makes it more isolating and difficult for those who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, much less to cover it up through American Greetings cards. Spending time alone in reflection and sorrow or together with those who were the reason for the struggles, and almost being forced into both situations because the calendar proclaims it a holiday is challenging at best and destroying at worst.
So what then can be done? Should holidays be eradicated, wiped off the calendar? Maybe, but I doubt that that will happen. I offer instead one suggestion.
Love someone else, anyone else, because you may be the only person ever to love that person.
Love in kindness and generosity and with your whole heart because you may be the only face of love that someone else sees.
Love because, no matter what, even on your darkest of days (and I’ve been there too), you are loved. God’s grace breathed life in you and His love is made known in your existence. Even when you feel you are unloved and unlovable, you are loved anyway.
You can’t live in the fear, even when it consumes you.
You can’t bottle up yourself and your everything to keep it safe from those who have harmed you.
You can’t harden your heart to love because you were deprived of love.
You were loved before you were born, even if it doesn’t seem like that now and hasn’t been that way since.
You were loved before time began, even if each day is harder than the last and time seems an eternity since you knew real love.
“God is love… 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:16a, 18-19).
Find Love, and not in the arms of a person as that love will never be love enough when the days are darkest and the times are toughest, but in the hands of the Father who formed you and has your name written eternally on His palm.
Share Love, even when you feel the most unloved because you know what it is like to not be loved. And why should someone else feel that way too?
Give Love because you are Loved more than life itself and because the same Love that made you is the same Love that sacrificed a Son for you, out of Love.
Because God is Love. Love because you are Loved.
Love because you are broken, because your love was broken, because no one else should be broken by love.
Love because everyone needs to know that they are loved, and not just on a holiday.
Love any way. Love every day.