Husband & Wife Articles


 

Loving Like a Mother

Through lives of sacrifice, mothers can change the world
By Heather Keimig

Mother’s Day is coming, and it will be celebrated with the outpouring of much love, appreciation and gratitude for the generosity the mothers in our lives have shown us, mingled with sorrow for those who have gone ahead of us into eternal life. Mother’s Day is a beautiful tribute to the many sacrifices that women offer for those whom they love.

Flowers, cards, chocolates, breakfast in bed, an official “day off” are all ways to express our love and gratitude for the moms figures in our lives – wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, etc.

The Keming Family

Bill and Heather Keimig have a young family with five children, "thus far," they say.

But speaking personally to my fellow mothers, I would like to ask an uncomfortable question: are we worthy of all this adulation? Have we really run the good race, fought the good fight, sacrificed as often as we could? Have we been faithful to the enormity of our calling to bring forth new life into the world and raise those souls to heaven?

Have we been holy mothers?

I am blessed to have a wonderful mother, who is still living and continues to actively “mother” me in our adult relationship. I also have a wonderful mother-in-law, “honorary mother-friend,” as well as the companionship of a number of holy women friends who share this vocation to marriage and family life. In our interactions, whether significant or inconsequential, all of these women present aspects of their motherhood to me, in the way of a listening ear, a fresh insight, a word of encouragement, practical childcare, a meal when times are hard, even the gift of our children to one another as godparents and Confirmation sponsors. Each of these women has taught me different components of my current picture of motherhood. I’m sure there are women who fill these roles in your own life.

As varied in personality, life experience and education that these women in my life are, they all share a deep love for Christ. It has been my experience that whenever we really encounter the perfect love that comes from the Lord, it transforms us and calls to us in some deep place in our hearts, rendering us capable of great sacrifice out of love for him who is Love. Women know how to respond to sacrificial love with sacrificial love – that’s part of the maternal heart.

Those of us called to be mothers learn sacrifice at the start of our maternal journey – beginning from the moment we offer our bodies to a new life – and we are thus prepared for a life of sacrifice for our children. After all, there is very little that is tidy, peaceful, easy and sometimes even rational, about raising children! And yet, the Lord loves life and greatly desires us to be open to it in all its forms, especially the form of new children brought forth out of love between a husband and wife. And so we are called to walk this very beautiful road of sacrifice, accompanied by dancing princesses, sturdy knights, frog catchers, car enthusiasts, school nerds, trying teens, sports enthusiasts, and other miscellaneous companions hanging on our skirts, criss-crossing the road in front on us, asking to be picked up (again) and tapping on our arms to get our attention. As our motley crew ages, we seek to draw them into our world of faith so they too may know the joy of offering themselves to the Lord.

And does our Lord not receive this loving sacrifice of ourselves as the most beautiful gift we could give him? I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Rom 12:1). 

Herein lies the power of motherhood to change the world. It is simply this: the Lord finds irresistible the gifts of sacrificial love, of trusting surrender to the will of the Father in heaven, of continuous prayer for the sake of one who is loved. When we experience heaven opening up for us, we can be sure that someone is loving us sacrificially – and it’s probably a mother.

A mother has a definite advantage to learning about sacrifice and its potency because we don’t generally get to become mothers without it, one way or the other. When she surrenders to her vocation and learns to make herself “small” for the sake of her children, she begins to see the power of her influence over those lives. To the extent that each of us can “get ourselves out of the way” and allow the Lord to move through our mouths, our hands, our minds, and our very being – to actually be love to our children – we see them respond, grow, desire to love the Lord and serve him.

This Mother’s Day, let us reflect on the quality of the mothering we have done in the past. Perhaps there are areas that we need to take to the sacrament of Confession. Sins that sit at the heart of who we are as women are painful to see and actually speak out loud, to be sure. But unless we seek the forgiveness the Lord offers us, we cannot be healed. As mothers, we are often quick to bring our children to the doctor. Let us be even quicker to lead our children by example to the Great Physician of Souls by seeking Confession for our own sins.

With clean hearts before the Lord, we can indeed be a holy and acceptable, living sacrifice to the Lord. Then we can really love like a mother.

Heather Keimig is a homeschooling mother of five children. She and her husband, Bill, will be writing the “Husband & Wife” column for May.