As a young teen who craved for a consistent Father figure it only made sense that at the onset of my faith I would best understand God as "Father." But these days, more often than not, I find myself praying "Our mother who is in Heaven..."
Now before you freak out too much (as if God has an anatomical gender) understand that by calling God "mother" I am standing with a cloud of faithful witnesses who have used such metaphors. (Which is all any language used to describe the divine is anyway) And that this post is not about me trying to convince you that feminine pronouns and metaphors for God are biblical. (Though there are oceans of scriptures that validate that claim) That will come in a later post tentatively titled "God is not a boys name."
So now where were we?
So some where in the last several years I began to see God differently, or better yet, more vibrantly than ever before. This shift came when I began to open myself up to ideas beyond the rather anemic traditions I had been handed. I quickly learned that God is much bigger than all the little boxes I try to confine Her in. You know... all that typical millennial deconstruction of faith, doubts, questions, losing faith, finding faith, being cynical, burning bridges, being an ass, lots of tears, and so on, and so on!
Some days it felt like way too much to handle. What do you do when all you have ever known does not quite work anymore? My poorly exegeted interpretations of scripture and legalistic formulas all left me wanting. I went from thinking I had all the answers to feeling uncertain about everything I had ever believed. I knew I could not stay who I was but I was very unsure of who I would be on the other side of this.
I have experienced so much change in the last few years and the pruning process has been nothing short of painful. But it is in this season of tearing down and rebuilding that God revealed a Mother's love to me that my heart so desperately needed.
The Spirit made me think of my biological mother. A woman who, if you asked, would tell you that she should have done a better job at being a single mom of two. A woman who had to be Mom and Dad (much like God.) A woman who made sure I was clothed, fed, and had more than I ever needed. A woman who taught me how to ride a bike, drive a motorcycle, and put up with my smart, and often times ungrateful mouth more than she really should have. She has her faults, I still piss her off a lot, but she still loves me like God, unconditionally.
And then I look toward my wife who radiates the grace and love of Jesus more than anyone I have ever known. She is an unbelievably great mom. Every action she takes with our two little ruffians is so saturated with the grace of God that it is unbelievable. She is so patient, gentle, and she broods over them like a mother hen does her chicks (like The Spirit over us.) In her willingness to bear the pain of childbirth and dedicate her heart and soul to the care of our children I caught a glimpse of God that I had over looked for so long. Because of her I realized that God is as much "Mother" as "Father." And honestly in this season of life I need God to be more Mother than Father right now.
I need to be reminded of Her unending mercy.
I need Her to speak with gentleness to my heart.
I need to know I can find rest in the shadow of Her wings.
I need Her to embrace me when my fear gets the best of me.
I need Her to sing over me when my heart feels stranded out in tumult waters.
And She is.
"For, longing to bear sons into life,
You tasted of death,
and by dying you begot them... So you, Lord God, are the great mother."
—St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
May the peace of God our mother hold you steady.