The Mother of all Sermons

May 14, 2006

Mother’s Day. Never in a million years would I have predicted I would be up here this evening giving a message on this day. Why? One, I am not a biological mother or a mother by choice. Two, I really haven’t spent that much time around children—my two nieces live in Chicago and I don’t see them very often. And three, my Mother (may she be of blessed memory) passed away almost nine years now—and since then, frankly—I have avoided much of anything that had to do with this day.

Now we all know that avoidance is a great way to heal, right? It really helps us to get at our core issues and resolve them on a deep energetic level—right? Sigh—nope, not right. Avoidance doesn’t do much of anything for us except perhaps give us a stiff neck as we constantly turn back over our shoulder to see if what we are trying to avoid is following us. And, chances are real good that it is following us. So I stand before you this evening, humbled and praising G-d for the courage and love to take another step on my healing journey. And, what a wonderful blessing that I get to share that with all of you.

And, so I thought to myself, what will I talk about on this day. I could discuss what a mother is—how she loves her children—nurtures them, guides them, protects them. Many of us love or loved our mothers dearly—yet we now can identify some ways we didn’t get the love we wanted or needed from her. Gee, now that would be a downer of a topic—how our mothers failed us. But it did get me thinking even more. Where do we get the love we want and deserve in our lives, whether our mother is alive or dead, loving us enough or not enough?

The answer, sure and simple, is that we must mother ourselves!

As I was sitting in the tub (regular tub this time—not the hot tub), the words of Deuteronomy 6:5, what in Judaism is called the V’ahavta came to mind:

In Hebrew it says:

V’ahavta et adonai elohecha, b’chol-l’vavcha,
Uvchol-nafsh’cha, uvchol-me’odecha.

And in English:

You shall love the Eternal your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.

Now, metaphysically, we know that all that G-d is we are. We know that G-d or Spirit or our Higher Power has created us in its image. So, therefore we know that there is no separation between us and G-d. We are One with G-d. And just as we are to love G-d we all of our heart, soul, and might—so it is that we are to love ourselves in that exact same way. And that is what I want to offer to you tonight—how do we love ourselves—or, to be more specific—how do we “Mother” ourselves?

Looking at that verse again:

V’ahavta et adonai elohecha, b’chol-l’vavcha,
Uvchol-nafsh’cha, uvchol-me’odecha.

You shall love the Eternal your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.
First, let’s take a look at what gets in our way of loving ourselves.
1. That’s what other people are for. Oh really? And how dependable is that? When we look externally for love, validation, or self-worth, we are bound to end up in disappointment-land. We have to be our own best friend; we have to be our own mother. And who best knows what we want and need but ourself?
2. It looks selfish to mother myself. Says who? G-d gives us everything we ask for—though perhaps not in the way we expect. Here we have an opportunity to give ourselves exactly what we want exactly the way we want it. A trip to a Caribbean island—sure. New car—why not? Flat screen tv—absolutely. Selfish? Heck no! Self-loving? For sure!
3. Why bother—it won’t make a difference? Now, this is one of my favorites. Heck, I have been a member of the “why bother” club for years. Why bother? Because G-d bothered to love you so much as to give you life. Because you are your own expert when it comes to knowing how you want to be loved. Because the more you can mother and love yourself—the better you can love others.

So then, just how to we go about mothering ourselves? Let me offer a few suggestions:
1. Start with forgiveness. We need to forgive ourselves and all others for not giving us the love we deserved and were entitled to. We did the best we could with what we knew, as did they. Release all resentments, grudges, ‘how comes?’ and ‘why didn’t theys?’ Those old stories just take up room where instead there could be love. Have you ever experienced the pleasure of cleaning out your attic or your garage or even your work desk then looking appreciatively at all of the space that suddenly appeared? The same is true with our hearts. Get rid of the clutter and you will be surprised and pleased at all of the love that can now fit in there—for you and for others.
2. Know, with all of your heart, your soul, and your might that you are worthy. How many times have you seen someone give another a compliment on a new outfit, and the response has been “Oh, this ol’ thing—I’ve had it for years?” What if instead they said, “Yeah—it’s pretty great looking isn’t it?! Thanks for noticing.” Affirming ourselves and honoring ourselves is key (what is that Commandment about ‘honoring your mother?…) As we believe more and more that we are worthy of love-our own and G-d’s–amazing transformations will occur.

3. Mother yourself when you need to and mother yourself “just because.”I’m not sure which one of these is more difficult—the ‘when you need to’ or the ‘just because’. Personally I have stumbled over both of them. Two months ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia—CML. It came out of the blue, found during a routine blood test. After I finished telling myself doom and gloom stories, I listened to what the doctor and the literature had to say. It is treatable-with a daily pill, though not curable. Until they come up with a cure I will be taking this brown vitamin-size pill the rest of my life. OK, I calmed down—until I started to read about possible side effects of the drug. Now you and I know that any drug—aspirin, Pepto Bismol—anything that has chemicals in it can have a side effect. There I went again with all of the stories—imagining myself having the absolute worst of the possible side effects. I sure did need some mothering. So what did I do (and am still doing)? First—I gave myself a mantra to say over and over. I chose “This process will be easy and effortless.” Next, I started to tell my friends, one by one and asked them to see me in perfect health, whole, and complete. After that, I did something that even surprised me. An acquaintance of mine owns a vegetarian catering company. I called her up, told her which nutrients the drug might impact, and asked her to prepare two meals a week for me that stress those nutrients. On Tuesday and Friday I go to her home, pick up my meals, and I know that not only are they healthy for me, and that I don’t have to deal with making my own, but—almost as important—I know that they are made with love and care. Every bite I take is a bite of self-love, Gina’s love, and G-d’s love. The last thing I did for myself was to head to my spiritual healing place—the Caribbean—for a week.

With all of those things in place—I started taking the medicine just this past Monday-seven days ago I’m here to tell you that I have had no side effects except a deepening love for all that is.

My final point on how we can be mothering to ourselves is:

4. Remember that love is what we are here to give and receive in this lifetime. Go home tonight and make a list of the things you want to start to do to mother yourself. A monthly massage; a new muffler on your car, a set of 600 count cotton sheets for your bed, a new coat of paint for your kitchen. Mother yourself because you can. Mother yourself because you are the expert in how you want it done. Mother yourself because as you learn to love yourself more deeply, you will also be loving G-d more deeply.

So remember, when you anticipate that others will give you all the mothering you need—there is bound to be some disappointment. It reminds me of the story of three Jewish sons who left home, went out on their own and prospered. Getting back together, they discussed the gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother.

The first said, “I built a big house for our mother.”

The second said, “I sent her a Mercedes with a driver.”

The third said, “I’ve got you both beat. You know how Mom enjoys reading the Torah and you know she can’t see very well? I sent her a large brown parrot that can recite the entire Torah. It took twenty rabbis 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $1,000,000 a year for twenty years but it was worth it. Mom just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it.” Soon thereafter, Mom sent out her letters of thanks. She wrote to the first son, “Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house.”

She wrote to the second son, “Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home all the time, so I never use the Mercedes and the driver is SO rude.”

She wrote to the third son, “Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to know what your mother likes. The chicken was delicious.”

It truly is a loving act to give ourselves the mothering that we deserve with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might. Let the love flow inward—for it is with certainty that I can tell you—it will then flow outward.



© 2019 Bonnie J. Berger. All rights reserved.