This weekend, Mother’s Day, while joy-filled for many, is full of anxiety for others.

If you’re in the anxiety-producing camp, know I am with you. As I’ve shared elsewhere, I have Mother’s Day pain.

It’s so hard to have complicated feelings about the mothers in your life. It’s so hard to have longings for children (or relationships) unfulfilled. Or to be grieving when everyone else is so happy.

We don’t know what to do with these sorts of “uneasy” feelings in our “How are you?” “I am fine” culture.

And faith communities really are the worst for many of us during certain holiday weekends. Mother’s Day is also known as the day that the grieving don’t feel safe at church.

I need to tell you that even as a pastor, one year on Mother’s Day, I took the day off. I turned off my phone. And I just couldn’t wait till it was Monday already.

I couldn’t handle someone else asking me, “When are you going to have kids already?”

And even now, though I am now a mother with little feet running around my house (after a long infertility journey), I still find Mother’s Day so complicated.

As much as there is joy in my life, there is also loss, frustration and delayed expectations.

I don’t believe I’m alone in these feelings, so as a pastor, I want to be sensitive to the complicated feelings so many of my beloveds will bring to worship on Sundays.

It’s my belief that we can help the grieving feel safer at church by the attention we give to our words and presence on Sunday (or any day really!).

Here is a responsive prayer I wrote in the spirit of truth-telling, sensitivity and kindness. Adapt, use and share as it’s helpful to you.

One: Mothers come in many different forms, and today we remember them all.
Many: Thank God for all mothers.

One: For those women who have left earth too soon and in whom we miss dearly.
Many: Thank God for these mothers.

One: For every woman who is raising children now making sacrifices for her children’s becoming.
Many: Thank God for these mothers.

One: For those women who have taken in others’ children through adoption and foster care, showing us that the love of God far extends beyond biological ties.
Many: Thank God for these mothers.

One: For those women with grieving hearts for children that could have been with futures so different from what they planned.
Many: Thank God for these mothers.

One: For the special neighbors, teachers and friends who’ve nurtured us, supported us and helped us to become the people we are today.
Many: Thank God for these mothers.

One: For mothers in which our relationships are complicated, difficult or strained, but who have forced us to choose healthier paths for our lives.
Many: Thank God for these mothers.

One: Mothering God, help us all to reflect more of your compassion, kindness and strength to those around us today. As Meister Eckhart has said, “We are all meant to be mothers of God. God is always needing to be born.” Let this be true of us. We need more of you, here, God.
Many: Thank God for mothers. Amen

Elizabeth Hagan is senior minister of The Palisades Community Church in Washington, D.C. Other hats she wears are as a preacher, author and executive director of Our Courageous Kids, a foundation dedicated to orphan care. A version of this article first appeared on her website and is used with permission. You can follow her on Twitter @elizabethagan.

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