Things You Don’t Learn in Sunday School: Mother God

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to stir things up a bit. Mother’s Day is the third highest church attendance day behind Christmas and Easter. It’s also the most difficult day for many women who attend church. There are lots of reasons for this, but here area few that I heard often:

  • Many women desired to have children, but didn’t or couldn’t for a myriad of reasons. Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of that reality for them.
  • Many women have unresolved issues around their relationship with their own mother.
  • Their mother recently died and the grief is still raw.
  • Many women are struggling in their role as mother in their relationships with their daughters.
  • Many churches have a strong patriarchy and a man is in the pulpit telling women how to be godly wives and mothers. Enough said.

We may have learned in Sunday School that God is neither male nor female, but that God transcends gender. If God created male and female in God’s likeness, then God must be both male and female. OK. That makes sense. Then there’s Jesus who is definitely male. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as male. However, both the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit¬†are feminine, so I prefer to think of the Holy Spirit is feminine terms. Language can be limiting and often times something really is lost in the translation.

On this Mother’s Day, I want us to consider God as Mother. We never outgrow our need for nurturing and love. No matter how successful or independent or self-actualized we become, we still seek empathy and comfort. When faced with a difficult choice or when suffering from a stinging setback, we don’t want to be told what to do or how to buck up or reprimanded for falling short. We want a listening ear, a safe place to heal and re-group. We want to be comforted, not cajoled.

God can be all of those traits for us. In fact, I think God desires to be present for us in just that sort of way. One of my favorite verses is such a metaphor:

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you (Isaiah 66:13)

Can’t you just picture the tenderness of a mother, scooping up her child in her arms and holding that child close to her heart? Wiping away the tears and whispering her love in that child’s ear? And then patiently listening as her child pours forth all the pain and hurt and frustration that has built up?

This Mother’s Day let’s give thanks, or at least consider, God as Mother to her children … all of her children.


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