For the last 12 years, with few exceptions, my husband and children have fulfilled my Mother’s Day wish – strawberry picking as a family. Except when rain closes the fields, every second Sunday in May, we head to church early, enjoy a delicious brunch and then make our way to one of our local strawberry patches. Every year, my husband takes a picture of our children and me holding our haul at the end of our efforts. They are some of my favorite pictures, but more than that, they are some of my favorite memories with our children.
A few weeks ago, I picked up our older children from school and drove straight to the strawberry patch for an afternoon treat. At the time, as I watched the four bigger ones bound through the field while I held the baby, I reflected on how each of us is kind of like a strawberry in the field, needing the right combination of soil, rain and sunshine to even us out so that we can blossom into the beautiful creation we were made to be. Along the way, we hope we don’t get squashed, attacked by bugs, plucked by eager wildlife, or crushed by hail, but thankfully, not being strawberries, even when we do encounter setbacks, we can look to a gracious God to help us continue growing and striving. In what is infinitely beyond a sweetening process, “for those who love God” and “are called according to His purpose,” God is faithful in His work to conform His children into the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
I am always struck by the unmatched peace on a strawberry farm, quietly walking row after row, gently moving the big lush green leaves out of the way as you hunt for only the reddest, ripest berries to fill your bucket. The open sky, the vibrant colors, the fresh air mingling with the smell of dirt and sweet fruit provide just the right environment for growth.
Preparing for this year’s Mother’s Day celebration, I was surprised to learn that the first advocates for a national holiday to honor motherhood, dating back to the 1800s, were focused on peace. Anyone who is paying attention to our world, our country, and our local communities today knows that we have a dramatic lack of peace. Whether it is military conflicts, indiscriminate killings, angry political polarization, family breakdowns or dramatic increases in mental health struggles, we see discord in every direction as America becomes a more secular and less religious society. We know that “God is a God not of disorder, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). This means that God is the solution to the disorder we face in our world today, and the ultimate source of the peace we seek. For as dramatic as it may sound, I think mothers have a vital role in restoring peace in our world, because mothers can be a primary means of restoring an environment of peace in our homes.
I will be the first to admit that I am still learning, and often failing, to be a conduit of peace in my own home and circles of influence, so I offer this encouragement as much to myself as to others. It is especially challenging in a culture like ours that so often targets motherhood as something to be deprioritized, or even discarded altogether. For the last half century, mainstream feminist ideology has told women that our worth is most pronounced when we compare ourselves to men. We have told women in so many ways for so many decades that they are not uniquely and wonderfully made; that motherhood is not important and good; that children are a burden or a trophy, but certainly not a gift or awesome responsibility. It is no wonder that our young ladies fail to see the beauty in their bodies as temples of Holy Spirit, as tabernacles of God’s greatest creation, and as His own image-bearers. We have failed to tell our daughters, most of whom will one day be mothers, how unique and important their role as women and mothers is in the world, and that God created them exactly the way they are for a specific purpose, reason and work. Too few young women today have heard, let alone have internalized, the reality that “Children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work,” as C.S. Lewis said.
We know that the gender confusion sweeping through today’s younger generations is especially pronounced among young girls navigating their way through the uncomfortable and often confusing challenges of puberty. These young ladies need strong mothers (and fathers) both verbalizing and visibly living the beauty and freedom of God’s plan for the complementarity of men and women together in married family life.
Recently, Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly made headlines for asking on her Instagram page, “Why are we only applauding masculinity in women and villainizing it in men? And why are we only applauding femininity in men and debasing it in women?” She went on to encourage her followers to focus on a return to grace and charity as the cornerstone for a thriving society. Who and where better to begin than with mothers in their own homes, striving to live and teach their children to live gracefully and charitably. Are we as moms satisfied with where God has placed us and asked us to focus our efforts in this particular season of life? Do we gracefully embrace the mundane, the challenges and the sufferings that come with family life, whether it is infertility, pregnancy, newborn care, toddler management, child-rearing, loving and supporting our husbands, stretched household finances, homeschooling, juggling carpools, intense color-coded calendars of appointments and extracurriculars, navigating teen emotions, helping our children discern college and career next steps, adjusting expectations and relationships with our adult children or any of the wide assortment of other demands placed on mothers? Each moment, each interaction, is an opportunity to choose love, to choose peace. It is often said that the mother is a key part of the heart of the home, and we know that the home is the most fundamental unit of society, so if we want peace in our world, we mothers have an awesome calling to be a source of peace in our own homes that will then radiate that peace out into the whole world.
Our current predicament reminds me of President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation calling for a national day of prayer and fasting, in which he admonished his fellow Americans, saying, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!” He then went on to call on all Americans to join him in humbling themselves “before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
But we as Christians know that praying for forgiveness is not enough. We must also repent and look to God to commit and follow through on repairing what we have damaged and amending our behavior going forward to be in greater conformity with His perfect will. The best way to counter our culture’s attempts to erase women and moms is for moms to do the quiet hidden work of motherhood well, because that is some of the most important and monumental work that can be done to change the world. In addition to knowing that God is the Ruler of all mankind (1 Chronicles 29:11-12), we’ve all heard the old adage from William Ross Wallace’s poem, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” This is a simple but profound statement. Children learn virtue and truth-seeking in the home first; and for all of human history, until very recently, those lessons were taught at home in large part by mom. I can’t think of any better way to restore peace and sanity in our world than to empower women to embrace this important work.
This Mother’s Day, let us renew our hopeful prayer for peace in our world, confident in the words of the Apostle James, “The peace sown by peacemakers brings a harvest of justice” (James 3:18).
Thank you to the countless mothers who are changing the world and restoring order one peaceful moment at a time. May the resulting harvest be as sweet and satisfying as a basketful of ripe, delicious strawberries on Mother’s Day!
POVs are point of view articles from NC Family Staff and contributors.