As we approach Mother’s Day in the UK, I have been thinking about mothers, and the long journey of parenting. There are inumerable blessings along the way, and it is truly a joy and a huge honour to be trusted with these little ones. But today, I want to think about encouragements for the times when we may feel a sense of hopelessness or even despair over our efforts and their apparent lack of results. Here are my three favourite encouragements, two old and one new.
1. An analogy that I read in a parenting book years ago, and I have always remembered and been consistently encouraged by, is of the bamboo plant. When you plant bamboo very little is seen above ground for about four years. But the plant is very busy, putting out strong, deep roots. Then suddenly in the fifth year it’s rate of growth is incredible, with some varieties able to grow 35 inches in 24 hours! In the same way it can feel as though we go on (and on, and on!) repeating the same trainings and prayers, day after day with apparently little effect. And then suddenly when we look back we realise that “it’s worked”, maturity has come in that area, almost overnight (apparently).
2. Beautiful, awesome and unarguable wisdom from Ann Voskamp, with apologies that I cannot find the precise quote. I think it is this: “God chose you to be the mother of these children, and He doesn’t make mistakes.” Profound, and true, and impossible to argue with.
3. It’s reassuring to know that our worries are nothing new and during the past few months, during my studies of the Saints, I have been struck twice by the role of their mothers, through long years of obedient, consistent, and continual prayer. St Augustine tells us, through his Confessions, about the effect of his eventual conversion upon his mother:
“She was filled with triumphant delight and blessed you (God), who have power to do more than we ask or understand for she saw that you had granted her much more in my regard than she had been wont to beg of you in her wretched, tearful groaning. Many years earlier you had shown her a vision of me standing on the rule of faith; and now indeed I stood there, no longer seeking a wife or entertaining any worldly hope, for you have converted me to yourself. In so doing you had also converted her grief into joy far more abundantly than she had desired, and much more tender and chaste than she could ever have looked to find in grandchildren from my flesh.”
(Quoted from The Life and Wisdom of Augustine of Hippo by Lavinia Byrne)
That passage is so full of emotion isn’t it? I immediately scribbled it down in my journal, such beautiful encouraging words. Also in the book by Lavinia Byrne is this Collect for the Feast of St Monica, Augustine’s mother. This is a wonderful prayer for mothers:
who strengthened Monica, the mother of Augustine, with wisdom,
and through her patient endurance encouraged him to seek after you:
give us the will to persist in prayer
that those who stray from you
may be brought to faith in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever. Amen.
This is my prayer this Mother’s Day, for myself, and all mothers, including all of you. Happy Mother’s Day!
If you have a favourite quote, story, or Bible verse that encourages you, please add it in the comments – we can never have too much encouragement!