At the beginning of April, I received an email from a jewelry retailer that surprised me. The subject line immediately caught my eyes: “Rather not receive Mother’s Day emails?” I opened it to read the full text, “we understand that this time of year isn’t easy for all. If you’d rather not receive Mother’s Day emails, just let us know.” Below the paragraph was a large button labeled “OPT OUT OF MOTHER’S DAY EMAILS.”
Ten days later, the popular online graphic design portal, Canva, sent out their email, “Want to opt-out of Mother’s Day emails?” Their content included a button to “Change my preferences” alongside the message “Mother’s Day is coming up and we know it can be a difficult day for some. That’s why we’re giving you the option to opt-out of Mother’s Day emails from us.”
If the secular world recognizes and offers relief for those hurting during the Mother’s Day season, shouldn’t the church respond as well? Is Mother’s Day even biblical? Or are the women who hurt expected to gird up strength and endure a socially constructed celebration?
I understand these questions can stir up emotion, especially for church leaders. Years ago, I asked a pastor to consider canceling the church’s annual May “Mother/Daughter Tea” to have a church-wide picnic instead. Or at least rebranding the event name to “Women’s Day Tea.” The reason being is Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year, and harder still to celebrate it in church. The church is to be a place focused on glorifying God (not ourselves), being devoted to the teaching of biblical doctrine, fellowship, observing the Lord’s supper, and prayer (Acts 2:42). And sometimes its events don’t feel glorifying.
So, should hurting people endure the holiday? The statistics demonstrate the vast numbers of reproductive loss. Annually, 1 in 175 pregnancies end in stillbirth, 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, 1 out of 8 couples experience infertility, and 1 out of 4 women will have chosen abortion. Many more women and men are grieving the loss of their female family members, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other loved ones. We also need to recognize the grief of adoption placements, prenatal diagnoses, and broken dreams of family and relationships. As I type this, I wonder if Mother’s Day feels more like a day of survival for most.
The Bible doesn’t ask us to set aside special days for mothers and fathers or anyone else. But it doesn’t condemn it either. Instead, Romans 14:5-8 lays out how every day for a believer should be observed in honor of and thankfulness to the Lord. And through our hope and salvation in Christ, we look forward to the day where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We can take refuge in a God who comforts us and saves us from the broken world and broken bodies.
So, should we opt out of Mother’s Day? What about Father’s Day? Or, any other day that brings anniversary grief? Let’s remind ourselves that the Lord has appointed times for weeping, laughing, mourning, and dancing (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). And He also promises us a living hope and unfading inheritance through Christ (1 Peter 1:3-4). As believers, we should not mourn like those who have no future, but instead, keep our heads lifted to Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
If you’re hurting this season, we pray for you. Whatever you choose to do to protect your heart this Mother’s Day, please don’t opt-out of Jesus; He is there. And for those who can comfort others, please reach out to the hurting and remember Christ “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
by Tanya Flores, Reproductive Loss Network