Mother's Day is a tricky holiday. Like any holiday, it is sweet for some and bitter for others. For some, it's both.

I remember feeling on the outside looking in on Mother's Day, first as a single woman and then after I miscarried our first. Our church had an entrance near the nursery called the Family Entrance. Could I use it? Were we a family? I finally used it regardless, almost as an act of defiance. Now, as the mother of a 4- and 6-year-old, I can deeply appreciate someone setting aside parking near an entrance that kept me from having to walk my toddlers across a busy intersection. But at the time I was dealing with emotions that weren't swayed by practical realities. I just wanted to be a mom. And that sign at the church entrance reminded me I wasn't.

It is an age-old conundrum in humanity in general and Christianity in particular: How do you honor someone who has something good that you want too? How do you applaud the sacrifices of one without minimizing the suffering of the other? I don't know exactly, but I do think there is an overarching principle that's helpful.

Motherhood is not the greatest good for the Christian woman. Whether you are a mom or not, don't get caught up in sentimentalism that sets it up as some saintly role. The greatest good is being conformed to the image of Christ. Now, motherhood is certainly one of God's primary tools in his arsenal for this purpose for women. But it is not the end itself. Being a mom doesn't make you saintly. Believe me. Being a mom exposes all the ways you are a sinner, not a saint. Not being a mom and wanting to be one does too.

We may long to get pregnant, looking at motherhood from afar. God sanctifies us through that longing. We may lose a pregnancy or a child, and ...

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