Card companies don’t write Mother’s Day messages for the single woman who’s always sitting on the toddler side of the table or to the woman who loves her friends’ children as though they were her own.
Card companies don’t write Mother’s Day messages to the woman in her sixties who would have been the world’s best mom if only she had gotten married sooner. They don't write messages to the woman in her thirties who is married but has struggled with infertility for years.
Card companies don’t write Mother’s Day messages to the single woman who got divorced in her twenties, who still wonders if her dream of having kids died the day she signed the final papers.
On the internet, of course, you may find a few custom cards. But within that niche market, the notes are often sarcastic. They high-five the woman who’s made it to this point in her life without getting pregnant. They toast to freedom, full nights of sleep, and not having to carry the financial burden of children.
Those cards don’t capture the way you feel. When you’ve heard the True Woman Manifesto read aloud at a conference or discussed on Revive Our Hearts radio programs or podcast episodes, you agreed wholeheartedly with statements like these:
- Human life is precious to God and is to be valued and protected.
- Children are a blessing from God.
- Women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life, whether it be your own biological or adopted children, or other children in their sphere of influence.
Those are the truths you hope are evident by the way you live your life. Those are the reasons you’ve chosen to use your life to serve others, especially those who are younger than you.
You may not be recognized this weekend, friend, but we see you nurturing the faith of younger believers, fighting to protect the vulnerable, and caring for the kids who are in your sphere of influence—while still longing to have children of your own.
You probably won’t be publicly honored this Mother’s Day. You likely won’t get a card. But you are a spiritual mother, and you are making an eternal difference. So here’s what I’d share with you if I was given the chance to write a Mother’s Day message to you, my Christian sisters without children of your own.
You are an irreplaceable part of the family of God.
Your physical family is not the only family you belong to. Through salvation, you were brought into the household of God (Eph. 2:19). Look at how Jesus described family in Mark 3:33–35:
He replied to them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Looking at those sitting in a circle around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Through the gospel, relationships are redefined. You are a spiritual mother when you fulfill your purpose to teach what is good to those who are younger (Titus 2:4). The apostle Paul, who was not married, was a father in Christ to countless converts (1 Cor. 4:15). In the book This Momentary Marriage John Piper wrote,
Paul was a great father and never married. And does he not speak beautifully for single women in Christ in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 when he writes, “We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children”? So it will be said of many single women in Christ, “She was a great mother and never married.”1
Your role as a spiritual mom matters—to your local church and to the universal Body of Christ. May you be known as a great mother, whether or not you marry or have children.
Your tender affection reflects the heart of Christ.
You’re likely familiar with the story in Matthew 19:13–14. When little children were brought to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. Jesus responded, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (ESV).
The disciples’ reaction isn’t necessarily surprising. A willingness to embrace children and seek to bless them when they can do nothing in return rarely comes naturally. As we’ve been reminded this week with the leak of Supreme Court documents related to the potential overturn of landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, even the courage to stand up for the unborn is a countercultural choice. As you lay down your own comforts and step into inconvenience to care for kids, you are illustrating Christ’s love.
You may not even realize the illustration you are to the outside world. Keep changing diapers in the church nursery, quieting outbursts in school classrooms, and calming the fears of your pediatric patients—as you do, know that your gracious and kind spirit reflects the heart of your God.
Your investment in the next generation is changing the world.
In Psalm 145:4, David says to the Lord, “One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim your mighty acts.” That happens—one wise and kind word at a time—through people like you (Prov. 31:26).
As you encourage and equip younger women to know and serve the Lord, you are making an eternal difference. Keep training them “so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works” (Psalm 78:7).
You may not have physical descendants, but you have an eternal legacy that will shape the world you leave behind. As you raise spiritual daughters to seek Christ, you are passing on a baton of faithfulness that will withstand the test of time.
A Reason to Sing
Over the next few days, Google searches for the “Best Bible Verses for Mother's Day” will increase. Proverbs 31:28, “Her children rise up and call her blessed,” will top many of those lists. You may even add it to the card you write to your own mom.
But if I could, here’s the verse I’d choose to celebrate you this Mother’s Day:
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD. (Isa. 54:1 ESV)
If God has put children in your path to love and point to Jesus, rejoice! If He has gifted you spiritual daughters of any age who you can teach to love and serve Jesus, sing songs of praise! Let Mother’s Day nudge you to celebrate that God has given you influence over more than biological children. He is using you to make a difference in the lives of people beyond the walls of your physical household.
Your faithfulness may not be celebrated this weekend, but don't let that stop you. Keep serving, keep protecting, keep pressing forward in love—and may God continue to grow your spiritual family tree for generations to come.
Note: For more on spiritual mothering, tune in to the Grounded videocast on Monday, May 9. Erin Davis and the Grounded team are queuing up an entire episode on the topic! Watch it live on YouTube or Facebook, or catch the podcast version later at ReviveOurHearts.com.
1John Piper, This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 111.