This week marked Mother’s Day, a day that the world will tell you is meant to be a happy occasion. For many, however, the day is not necessarily a happy one. Whether you were not well mothered, have lost your mother, or have been unable to have children of your own, it can be a day imbued with sadness. When I was going through fertility treatments, unsure if I would ever be able to have children, the brunches, flowers, and homemade cards reminded me of all that I was missing.

Now, I’m in a place where Mother’s Day is a joy as I can celebrate it both with my mom and my own children. I know that not everyone is in that lucky space, and I try to balance my own joy with other people’s sadness. I try to make the day more about a celebration of mothering: something not constrained by biology or formal titles.

One definition of mothering is to “bring up (a child) with care and affection.” That’s something available to all of us. Jesus embodied a mothering sprit, taking the time to both lovingly discipline and disciple his flock. He brought a nurturing spirit not necessarily expected of our God made flesh.  

We can all mother others, by following Christ’s lead. We can take the time to listen to and comfort the people who we meet. We can encourage others and nurture their faith.

And we can also mother ourselves. Like the sparrow in Psalm 84:3, we can build our nest at a place near God’s altar and in Him find the comfort and shelter that we need.