The modern era Mother’s Day was created by Anna Marie Jarvis. Anna admired her mother who attended to the wounded during America’s Civil War and later became a community activist. When Anna was twelve she heard her mother pray that one day there might be a memorial day for mothers for all the good they do. Young Anna never forgot the prayer and when her mom died in 1905 the plan for the holiday was born. On the second anniversary of her mom’s death, Anna held a church memorial dedicated to her mother’s good deeds. In May of 1908, Anna held another memorial and handed out white carnations; her mother’s favorite flower. In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to observe the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. After a fierce letter campaign, Anna got Congress to federally recognize the holiday and in 1914, President Wilson officially signed a bill that made the second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day.
The holiday was meant to be spent in church and after that, sons and daughters would write loving letters to their mothers. Carnations were worn that day; pink or red for living mothers and white honored moms who had passed. With each passing year, more and more carnations were sold and by 1920 greeting card companies got involved. Anna was enraged by a lazy excuse for letters that should be handwritten. By 1924, the holiday creator was so appalled with the commercialization of Mother’s Day that she petitioned to abolish it. In 1930, Anna was arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother’s Day carnation sale. Sadly, Anna spent the rest of her life and family inheritance fighting the holiday. Anna died in 1948 leaving no children to remember her.*
It’s no wonder this commercialization aroused Anna’s animosity. What began as a prayerful desire in Anna to love and honor her mom through a simple act of kindness, turned into a greedy desire for monetary gain.
Nevertheless, moms across the nation enjoy the second Sunday of May every year; breakfast in bed, the extra attention and gifts, prayers at church and beautiful words from family. Mothers look forward to this day with great anticipation, and imagine what celebrations they might suggest to their loved ones to make it extra pleasurable. But not everyone finds joy in this celebration. For many, Mother’s Day can be very sad and lonely. Perhaps this Mother’s Day you’re estranged from your children, or longing for a child yet, unable to conceive. Maybe it’s an extremely painful day having lost your mother or you carry the unbearable pain of having lost a child. So Mother’s Day is rife with emotion. To some it brings pleasure and to others, pain. How can we reach out to those who find themselves in pain this Mother’s Day?
In John 13, we see Jesus give us an example of an act of deep love through the hands of a humble servant by washing His disciple’s feet. What kind of person washes someone’s dirty feet? Even Peter didn’t understand when he said, “Lord, you will never wash my feet.” Perhaps Peter thought this was below Jesus’ pay grade. “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” Jesus retorts. Jesus explains.
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again,
He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
Do you know what Jesus has done to you?
Jesus loved and served His people and He leaves us with this shocking example of washing one another’s feet to show us the lengths we should go to love and serve one another. People are hurting all around us and we can show the love of Christ through simple, thoughtful acts of kindness. Perhaps Anna Jarvis understood the love of God.
Ladies, each one of us has difficulties, sorrows, and unbearable seasons. No one is exempt. This Mother’s Day, enjoy the blessings God has bestowed upon you and receive all the attention and honor due your name: Mom. Let’s also look around, reach out and truly love another, with compassion, through a simple act of kindness as Christ has done to you.
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” –Jesus
By: Brenda Leavenworth
*editor’s note: Historical information sourced from history.com