Kyra Peralte is a mother of two in Montclair, New Jersey. A year ago, she started keeping a journal about the challenges of juggling marriage, work, and motherhood during a global crisis. She found the experience cathartic and wondered how other women were dealing with the overwhelming stress of the pandemic.
So she decided to invite women from around the world to fill the remaining pages of her composition notebook with their own pandemic stories. She wrote an article about her idea, then created a website so participants could add their names to the queue. Each person was allowed to keep the diary for up to three days and fill in as many pages as they wished, then mail it to the next person, whose address Peralte provided.
Her journal became “The Traveling Diary,” traversing the globe via snail mail and collecting handwritten stories. A year later, seven notebooks have circulated in locations from the United States to Australia, Canada, and South Africa. So far, 115 women have signed up to participate.
Creating a way for people to deal with their challenges in community is just what a mother would do.
The help mothers need
Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Anna Jarvis initiated the idea of a Mother’s Day in 1905 to honor the memory of her deceased mother. Nine years later, President Woodrow Wilson made the day a national observance. By Ms. Jarvis’ death, forty-three countries around the world had joined in the holiday.
The impulse behind such a day is obvious: except for Adam and Eve, every human being in human history had or has a mother. While some never knew their mothers and others had very difficult childhoods, most of us experienced the kind of compassion Kyra Peralte modeled. And we are grateful for a day to express our gratitude.
Godly mothers especially deserve our support in these challenging days.
According to a national poll, 46 percent of parents say their teenagers’ mental health has worsened during the pandemic. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the proportion of twelve- to seventeen-year-olds visiting emergency rooms for mental health reasons rose 31 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. This is in addition to the ongoing mental health crisis among young people and other challenges mothers have been facing during the pandemic.
Where can they find help? A research study of more than two thousand mothers reported that being well-adjusted as a mother depended largely on how much emotional support was available from other people in their lives. The study showed that mothers especially need to feel unconditionally loved for their “core” selves with a reliable source of emotional comfort and authentic relationships with family and friends.
Here’s the good news: No matter how family and friends encourage or discourage us, our heavenly Father will always love us for who we are. He is always there for us. He seeks nothing other than an authentic relationship with us.
A lesson from a gas cap
As we close our weeklong focus on personal spirituality as the basis for public courage in the face of an antagonistic culture, let’s apply our discussion to mothers and families.
During one of my pastorates, I borrowed our church van to drive to a distant university for a board meeting. Unfortunately, I failed to pick up the gas cap key from the church office before leaving. When the van needed gas, I had no ability to open the cap and had to find a locksmith. I learned practically what every driver knows intellectually: vehicles need the fuel they were designed to use.
It is the same with our souls.
Most mothers can identify with Mark 6:31: “‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Jesus’ purpose in calling us from the world is to call us to himself. He promises that those who “abide” in him will bear “much fruit,” but he also warns us that “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Oswald Chambers was right: “Every element of self-reliance must be slain by the power of God. Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occasion for the Spirit of God to manifest his power.”
Our Father’s invitation to mothers is his call to us all: identify our challenges, admit that we cannot face them without God’s help, bring them to him in faith, and trust him for the resources and encouragement we need.
Finding “the world of spiritual beauty”
Henri Nouwen observed: “Contemplative life is a human response to the fundamental fact that the central things in life, although spiritually perceptible, remain invisible in large measure and can very easily be overlooked by the inattentive, busy, distracted person that each of us can so readily become.
“The contemplative looks not so much around things but through them to their center. Through their center he discovers the world of spiritual beauty that is more real, has more density, more mass, more energy, and greater intensity than physical matter. In effect, the beauty of physical matter is a reflection of its inner content.”
Whatever our circumstances, Jesus will reveal the empowering “world of spiritual beauty” within them to all who make time to seek it with him.
Will you accept his invitation today?