Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What Mothers Tell Us About God

Last week as I was responding to comments on my last post "How Religion Hurts Women" (which did, by the way produce a provocative, respectful interchange in the comment. I want to applaud all the women who contributed--thank you!) I was also juggling another blog assignment for Zondervan, in honor of mother's for Mother's Day. I had already titled it, "What Mothers Tell Us About God." I think it's worth posting that blog here as well, to sort of clear the air and buoy up moms that I love and respect. I want to be very clear that mothers in all their various, creative ways of mothering, are part of the way we understand God better.

Syndicated from Zondervan Blog:

I’ve always liked the way God involved mothers in his clean-up program for planet Earth. It’s rather inspiring to me to read that when Eve failed, God didn’t shove her out of the way. Instead God treated her as if she was capable to handle her own judgment and responsibility. Embedded in God’s words to the snake and to Eve, we find both pain and hope that a mother, I’m sure Eve hoped it would be her, would bear someone capable of crushing the evil one.

of years later, many disappointed mothers later, God chose a young, girl, probably no older than a seventh
grader, as the chosen one to bear the Messiah in her womb. We don’t know that much about Mary. She was young. She was engaged. She was untried in her mothering skills. She probably never went to a class on what to expect in labor or how to prepare for a baby’s first year. She was relatively poor, a second-class citizen to the Romans, a refugee by the time she gets to Bethlehem. She was, in the eyes of many of us today, a gamble. But God chose her.

God continues to choose women to birth new life into this world and that itself feels like a gamble. (Are you sure you want more people on this earth, God? I mean, things don’t seem to be getting better.) But I believe God knows that there’s something to women, something in our strength and our image-bearing capacities that we don’t always see.

In the beginning, God created Eve for reasons we often miss. God thought planet Earth needed a woman, not to do the laundry or to give Adam another dependent, but because all his creation needed a female human image-bearer, another way of being human. It’s almost like God knew, later on, we might doubt men and women are the same species (ahem, Mars/Venus) and so purposively makes Adam from earth and Eve from his body signaling how interconnected men and women are, from the start. He thought we could both make it on the same planet.

I love how God was not ashamed of creating Eve to reflect him on earth. God is not afraid of being identified with femininity. Even in the stereotypical “mothering” tasks of laundry, home-making, cooking and sheltering, God is the first one we find doing each of these. God was the first tailor, clothing Adam and Eve with skins. God cleans up the mess of Noah’s neighbor’s wickedness by putting the earth on what could be called, and I don’t want to sound flippant, a rinse cycle. God makes earth fit for life, giving water to every animal, providing food right on time (Ps. 104: 10-13 and 27-28). God is a great housekeeper of this planet, as the Psalmist says, he spreads out the heavens like a tent, covering the deeps with water as with a garment (Ps 104: 2 and 6). These pictures have awakened me to the many mothers in my life, women who are living cameos of God.

I have two grandmothers, one tall and one short. When my short grandmother . . . (to read the rest visit Zondervan's Blog)


Gretchen said...

What a sweet article Jonalyn. God is a good God isn't He?
I really had fun thinking about your last post and I ended up talking with Heidi at length about it. Very good stuff. I realize that I have a hard time truly expressing my unformed opinions in writing. =0)

Jonalyn Grace Fincher said...

Hey Gretch,
Thanks for writing when you agree, too. That means a lot.

I loved that you talked to Heidi, cause that got her interested in posting. And I appreciate you being willing to write out your opinions... I think you do a good job and I know it takes time and so much energy to write.
Thank you!

Ally said...

Just wanted to let you know I finally checked out the blog and read the very interesting and quite long conversation that followed your last posting. No wonder you were busy :) This one is great too. I talked about you and your book a few times last night in a conversation with a friend who's doing a lot of "self-reflection" (if you will). I'll have to share some with you later because it's very interesting/sad/amazing what she's discovering.

Anyhow, hope you're doing well. I'll probably keep reading and maybe make a sarcastic comment now and then. Look forward to it!