Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Truly Oldest Profession

Throughout the year we celebrate a variety of holidays: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Memorial Day, the 4th of July. But one fails to receive its just due – Mother’s Day.

Sure, we see ads and commercials about buying Mom flowers and candy, jewelry, maybe taking her out to dinner. But for some segments of our society, being a mom apparently isn’t all that cool. As if the calling to nurture children through the various stages of pre-adulthood isn’t enough anymore to prove a woman’s worth. The test of a real woman, we’re being told, is succeeding in the world traditionally dominated by men. If you want to add kids to the equation, that’s OK, too.

Now before I raise feminist hackles, I’m all in favor of women in the workplace pursuing whatever careers they choose. We have several daughters who, along with raising children, are actively engaged in the workplace. My wife spent more than 20 years working outside the home once our kids were in school. My mother had several part-time jobs after my sister and I were in school. But it’s demeaning when a woman is described as “just” a mother. Because in reality, motherhood is truly the oldest profession.

It goes all the way back to Eve – and Adam. Some people believe their narrative is a fable, or allegorical. I happen to believe it’s true. Eve literally became the first person to raise Cain, followed by Abel. Sadly, the account of those boys didn’t end happily, but Eve did have another son, Seth, though not as celebrated as his infamous siblings.

The Scriptures are replete with stories of women who served nobly as mothers. There’s Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who after many childless years rejoiced upon becoming the mom of Isaac. Then there’s Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, who became mother to Jacob, through whom God established the nation of Israel. Many years later, Hannah also was barren until she became mother to Samuel, who went on to be the prophet who identified David to succeed Saul as king of Israel.

Probably most famous is Mary, whom God chose to become the earthly mother of Jesus Christ. Upon realizing her divine calling, Mary responded, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed…” (Luke 1:46-55). She recognized the honor of becoming a mother, a very special one indeed.

Mary was not only a direct participant in the birth of the One who would become known as the Messiah, but also was there as He died on the cross to atone for the sins of mankind. Who can imagine the myriad thoughts and emotions that she experienced?

The beauty of Mother’s Day is honoring the women who give so sacrificially of themselves to care for the next generation – and often beyond that.

I never cease to admire moms with multiple kids in tow, at the mall or in a restaurant. The other day we saw a young mother with three children – one in a stroller – and a dog as well. Not a father in sight to help out. Sadly, more than 40% of children across our country today are born to single moms. Shame on the dads. Kudos to the courageous moms.

And motherhood doesn’t end when the children leave the nest. In today’s world they often return – I call them boomerang kids, living again with mom and dad until they can afford to live on their own after college or getting started on their careers. And even when the children have their own homes, many moms “graduate” to become grandmothers, serving as free babysitters as needed.

Even the apostle Paul, who obviously never experienced motherhood firsthand, appreciated the importance of that role. Writing to followers of Jesus in Thessalonica, he said, “we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

So to all the moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for all you do!

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