Motherhood: an example of ultimate generosity

Generosity leads much of our conversations here at NCF. It’s what drives us, and is at the heart of our mission statement: Mobilizing resources by inspiring biblical generosity. We’re constantly looking for examples and models to challenge ourselves to understand generosity at a deeper level. The month of May is a great time to reflect on the generosity inherent in the love mothers, and mother figures,  give.

A motherly model of generosity

Imagine Mary: a young peasant girl living in the rural village of Nazareth. It’s a difficult life under Roman rule, filled with violence and poverty. Mary is likely illiterate, her days filled with back-breaking work, not education. She’s engaged to Joseph and has her whole life ahead of her. An angel of the Lord appears to Mary and tells her she will be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. And Mary responds with ‘yes’.

 Actually, she says, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 ESV). So much surrounds Mary’s ‘yes’. What will people say when an unmarried young woman has a baby? How will Joseph feel about it? What will the future of this child be? Why her, not a queen or a rich daughter, but a plain peasant girl?

None of these questions stop Mary from making the choice to do what God was asking her to do. And what happens next? Though Mary’s life is about to change dramatically, she goes on a long, difficult journey –nearly 100 miles – to celebrate and help her dear cousin Elizabeth who’s about to have a baby. When Elizabeth cries out to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” Mary doesn’t focus on her own importance. Instead, she immediately starts glorifying the Lord in a song of praise (Luke 1:46-55 ESV).

Mary’s journey into motherhood generosity began with accepting God’s invitation to mother Jesus, and it continued with the care of Elizabeth. She generously took care of her son by becoming a refugee to protect him at his birth. She raised Him up with faith in the fulfillment of what was spoken to her from God. And she was there at the foot of the cross, watching as her son — the boy she once carried in her arms — die in agony.

An unexpected call to generosity

In 2017, NCF Giver Susie Gurley found herself in a situation similar to Mary’s – being called to step into the role of motherhood in a way she was totally unprepared for. Susie’s youngest child, Will, was battling severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation*. God asked Susie to do the seemingly impossible – drop everything and work to save Will’s life. Over the next several months, Susie and her husband, Dan, poured time, energy, prayers, action, and abundant financial resources into keeping their son alive. For Susie, that meant delaying her plans to start a business and focusing every minute on supporting Will and getting him the help he needed. They spent countless hours with therapists and counselors. Will slept on the floor in Susie and Dan’s bedroom. Susie waited outside the bathroom door – she literally never let him out of her sight. They all feared what might happen if he was left alone – Will included. 

“Moms don’t consider themselves generous. We say it’s just our job, right?” says Susie. “But after this experience with Will, I realized that God calls moms into all kinds of situations, some more difficult than others, and the sacrifice of our own needs for the sake of our families is an act of generosity. I gave everything I had to keep my son alive, and I witness other moms demonstrating acts of generosity – from radical to usual – every day.” 

Scripture never specifically states that Mary knew her Son was to die on the Cross, but she trusted in the Lord’s promises that her Son was the Son of God who would affect all generations to come (Luke 1:46-48). Similarly, Susie knows that God loves Will more than she does, and that He made her son for a purpose, on purpose.  She felt His hand on her family throughout their difficult journey.

“As a parent, you want your kids to love Jesus,” shared Susie. “As hard as it was to experience, part of Will’s growth in faith required walking through that dark time. Watching that play out in my son’s life, knowing that the outcome is out of my hands, is the hardest part. I cannot even begin to imagine what that was like for Mary at the foot of the cross – her trust in God’s plan was the ultimate act of generosity.” 

As for Will, his mental health journey helped him discover God’s purpose for his life. He discovered writing music as therapy and founded the You Matter Festival, a free music festival promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention. In the fall of 2021, he will attend Texas Christian University to study musical theatre. His story is a testament to God’s grace and his mother’s generous care.

Modeling generosity

Like Mary and Susie, parents oftentimes don’t know what God has in store for them or their children. Parenting is more about focusing on supporting the building blocks of character here in the present. As believers, parents and parent-figures are called to set an example of generosity for their kids in the day-to-day. Leaving a legacy of financial generosity is important, and one that Susie and her husband value and demonstrate as NCF givers. 

“In our little slice of the world, it’s common for our kids to see us and our friends give money to help solve a problem. And in many situations, money is necessary to help others,” says Susie. “But it’s also important to model the giving of oneself: your time, talents, and treasures.” Being a generous mom can look like setting aside personal goals to support your children’s needs, giving of your time to drive kids to activities when you’d rather relax, or opening your home to their friends on a regular basis, despite all of the work that goes into hosting. Even trusting God with your child as they move away for college is an act of generosity and personal sacrifice. No matter the example, what may seem small in the present, God can use for His ultimate glory. 

*If you or someone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide, you can find emotional support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.