As large as the role is that our mothers play, the word mother is more powerful when used as a verb than as a noun. All women are not mothers, but all women are called to mother. To mother is to nurture, to train, to educate, to rear. As daughters of Eve, all women are uniquely gifted to help others in their lives become more of who they truly are — to encourage, nurture, and mother them toward their true selves. In doing this, women partner with Christ in the vital mission of bringing forth life.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. — Proverbs 22:6
This verse is not a promise of faith. It is not speaking of training a child to follow Christ or promising that if you do, the grown child will continue to follow Him. Sorry. The proverb is about raising a child to know who he is and to guide him in becoming ever more himself. By the way, he should go. Not in the way you would like him to go in order to validate you as a mother and a woman. It speaks of teaching a child to live from his heart, attuned to it, awake to it, aware of it, and when that child is grown he will continue to live a life from the heart. It is about seeing who a person really is and calling him out to be that person.
The impact on a life that has been seen and called out is dramatic and eternal. The nurturing of life is a high and holy calling. And as a woman, it is yours. Yes, it takes many shapes and has a myriad of faces. Yes, men are called to this as well. But uniquely and deeply, this calling makes up part of the very fibre of a woman’s soul — the calling to mother.
I am reminded of a courageous African-American woman who was thrilled to purchase her first home. After moving in, she came home from work to find drug dealers doing business on her front steps. It seems her new home was smack dab in the centre of their “territory” in Los Angeles. She wouldn’t stand for it. Head held high, finger-wagging, she “mothered” them to higher aims. She mothered them out of their sin. She mothered them into becoming the young men they were meant to become.
You can mother other people’s children.
All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to all kinds of things — to books (it’s nearly as hard as a child, believe me), to churches, to movements. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions, to ministries. We birth life in others by inviting them into deeper realms of healing, to deeper walks with God, to deeper intimacy with Jesus. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically borne a child. The heart and life of a woman are much more vast than that. All women are made in the image of God in that we bring forth life. When we enter into our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them.