I remember standing next to that little girl, all 4 feet of her, watching her eyes look on with mystery and longing and emptiness. The children’s choir was belting out their well-rehearsed songs, and moms were gushing over their little ones whom they’d dressed up in frills and bow ties for the occasion. Picture after picture was being taken of the little singers, and the children were beaming with pride, soaking up the attention of their parents’ joy.
But that little 8-year-old girl stood in the crowd, instead of onstage with the choir. She had no frills, but instead wore plain clothes she’d pulled from the donation bin.
No one was taking her picture.
Because that little girl, who longed for the embrace of a mommy or daddy, was alone in the world. She was an orphaned one, shuffling through the foster system, hoping to find a place to land.
She had no one to dress her up, no one to be proud of her, no one to gush over her.
She lived in a group home for foster children, drowning in disappointed hopes, aching for something she didn’t have. And would she ever?
Where she lived, staff served her meals, woke her up each morning, and flipped off the lights for her each evening.
The halls of that building were lined with children, all sharing the same void and bleeding from the same wound. I visited those little ones every week.
“I’m gonna see my mama tomorrow!” one little girl would always say to me. But day after day, tomorrow never seemed to come.
“Dear God, please give me a mommy to tuck me in at night,” I heard another pray. But that 10-year-old is still waiting, pulling her sheets over her frame at night with a throbbing plea.
These children want a mama. But they do not have one, and it engulfs them to their core.
Today I write to these girls, and for those like them — who long for a mama’s embrace:
Dear and beautiful ones,
You’ve lost something that the most eloquent of words could never embody. It is a God-built desire, infused into the human soul.
By divine design, we need a mother. We need her tender heart, her tender arms to enfold us. We need her strong, sweet voice to comfort us, and to call us forth. We need her song, her laughter, her hug, her hand.
But you lack. And beloved one, I’m mourning with you.
Today, it’s OK to melt, and to fall over into a stronger embrace. The God of all Comfort is still true to His name. So, no need to be tough here — let tears come, let Abba’s arms hold you again, comfort you again, and give you hope … again.
To the one whose mama hurt you, who could not take care of you, who left scars on your heart, and even some wounds that are still healing — she made so many mistakes, but you were no mistake. And one of the best choices she ever made was to carry your small body in her bulging womb, and to bring you into the world. She loved you enough to give you life. Deep down, buried in her own tattered soul, she knew you were precious … but her broken heart could only offer you brokenness. She didn’t know how to love you in the way you were worthy of being loved.
Maybe this Mother’s Day, you can give her a gift she doesn’t deserve — forgive her. And if you’ve already forgiven, maybe God wants to take the forgiveness another layer deeper, and free your heart still more.
To the one whose mama has passed on, whose memory lingers, and whose laughter still sounds in your heart … it’s OK, it’s right, to miss her. Don’t shy away from grieving — for grief is evidence that you deeply loved. Missing someone is a part of loving them. Rejoice in her memory, even as you grieve your loss. Let your tears of sorrow mix with joy today.
For your precious hearts, some throbbing more than others today, I’m praying that God would give you a mama to hold you again, that you would find a motherly embrace in someone — maybe in someone who can love you with a mama’s love, though she doesn’t share your DNA; or maybe in the reconciliation of a relationship that’s been broken with the one who does carry your blood.
And readers, I pray that our eyes, both mine and yours, would see those around us — the 5-year-old, the 16-year-old, the 40-year-old, the 65-year-old — who need mothering arms to wrap around them this Mother’s Day, and thousands of days following.