And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees them nor knows them. You know them, because they abide with you, and they will be in you. (John 14:15-17)
As we approach Mother’s Day, my family celebrates many birthdays, including our daughter. On her birthday this week, we cuddled and looked at pictures of her previous birthdays, seeing how she has changed and grown back to the day she was born three years ago. As we watched her changes, I noticed changes in myself too. Looking back, I can see how anxiety and depression tinted my life. I noticed forced happiness, a hyper-focus on doing the “right” thing, and the fear of inadvertently doing something that would lead to years of therapy for our daughter. When I saw the pictures of the day she was born, I saw myself before I became a mother: confident, driven, and strong. At that time, I had envisioned becoming a mom that had it all together: work, family—the image of success. But after giving birth, I felt like I was drowning. Healing after giving birth took longer than I expected; I was failing at breastfeeding, and struggling at work. My confidence plummeted as I second-guessed sending emails, procrastinated phone calls, and kept muted on Zoom. It wasn’t until Karen Medford, our parish nurse, suggested therapy that I realized I didn’t have to struggle alone.
Having a history of depression, I was concerned about developing postpartum depression, though I was convinced I didn’t have it. I loved our child and didn’t feel like harming her or myself. When I expressed this to my therapist, he said, “Maybe it’s not postpartum depression. It doesn’t matter what we call it; you’re hurting.”
Karen and my therapists spoke a truth I needed to hear three years ago. At times, God sends us the Spirit of truth through others even as God’s Spirit abides in us. Sometimes we need another perspective.
As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, I hope you may hear the Spirit of truth and God’s love. The Gospel of John offers us a gift of feminine language for God. In typical circulative style, the author of John invites us to dwell in our triune God, just as a child dwells in their mother’s womb. The womb can be a metaphor of a safe and nurturing space. The womb can also be a symbol of shame for all the women who can’t have a child or choose not to. Mother’s Day has so many cultural and personal expectations around who mothers are and should be that it may evoke pain for many people. If you are hurting today:
yearning to be a mother…
struggling as a mother…
trapped in a toxic relationship with your mother…
grieving an absent mother…
May you return to the Divine womb, the cradle of the Trinity. Return where you may receive healing love, nourishing grace, and the Spirit of truth. Rest in the dark and holy embrace of God.
Beloved, Be well. Be loved. Be in God.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Jenny McLellan
P.S. If you would like to share your story of struggles with mental illness or would like support, please contact me at email@example.com. If you are looking for a therapist who can speak a spirit of truth for you today, try Training and Counseling Center in Midtown, Better Help, or Psychology Today.