For our lesson this week, continuing the Faces of God, let us discuss and pray over the image of God the Mother. For most Christians, this tends to be one of the more difficult images right from the start. The Church has spent some 2000 years trying to remove any femininity from the concept of God. Many branches of Christianity still do not allow for women to serve in positions of authority, for they believe a woman is inferior and thus could never hold authority over a man. With that mentality, then there is no way God could have any aspect of the feminine. If God is the Superior, and women the inferior, then “naye shall the twain e’re meet,” as it were. If you grew up with a solely masculine image of God, you must first acknowledge that God is not human and as such has no gender in the first place. All the images we attribute to God are for our benefit to help us relate to One beyond complete understanding. So, to help break from that traditional image into which we have forced God, we must try the complete opposite to see what stirs within us.
As we did last week, first identify who was a mother figure for you growing up. Next, begin to list or discuss the roles that such a mother figure played for you. As a mother, was she nurturing? Was she one that supported and encouraged you? Was she the one that listened just so you could unload rather than listen so she could fix it all for you? Was she the figure of healing? When you skinned your knee, was it mom that applied the band-aid, and kissed it to make it all better? Did she unconditionally love you?
Or was your mother the domineering type of your family? Was she the one in control? Was she manipulative and a master at using guilt? Did she ever betray you when she didn’t love you unconditionally as you thought she should because of some part of who you are? Continuing along these lines, write out the positive and negative roles you attribute to the mother figure(s) in your life.
Now, look through this list and ask yourself when have you attributed these qualities to God? When have you not? Should you? For the sake of discussion, let’s take listening. The typical image of a father listening to a child’s problem is with the assumption that the father is going to offer advise on how to fix it or fix it himself for the child. On the other hand, when a mother listens, it’s typically just to be a listening ear, so the child knows that someone cares. A mom doesn’t have to fix the problem, but by just listening they make dealing with the problem a little easier for the child. A child unburdens their soul and gets love in return, not a quick fix. But love is just what the child needs.
How often do we pray to God, laying out our woes and expect God to answer by fixing the problem? “You shall receive anything when asked in my name…” And when we don’t get the answer, the solution, we want, we get frustrated with God, angry with God, and think God is no longer there. It’s as though our prayer and the solution to it were a mathematical proof that God just failed.
But what if praying to God, opening and unburdening our hearts is like crying in a mother’s arms? Are we so focused on an expected solution, that we’re missing the love that is being poured over us? This is but one difference when we try to experience God as Mother instead of the typical “father.”
Keep in mind that we may see negative traits that match as well. A good southern mother, for instance, is a master of guilt. In relationship to God, how often has the Church used guilt from God to our sins to coerce it’s people? Is this really an appropriate role we should attribute to God?
Journal now and spend time in silence with the image of God the Mother. Prayer the Lord’s Prayer through with that as the opening line and observe what experience of the Divine stirs within you. For instance, when we pray “forgive us our trespasses,” how does forgiveness from a mother feel different from that of a father? God’s Peace.
Silentio Coram Deo,