God as Nurturing Mother

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Truly Lord, you are a mother
for both they who are in labour
and they who are brought forth
are accepted by you.
- Anselm of Canterbury

But our true Mother Jesus, he alone bears us for joy and for endless life,
blessed may he be. So he carries us within him in love and travail
- Julian of Norwich

Today I stumbled upon these quotes that compare God to a mother and really liked them. This idea of God as mother is definitely something I didn’t grow up hearing much, but it has been something I have thought a lot about since getting pregnant.

One picture that has come to mind often throughout this pregnancy is the picture that just as my baby is growing in my womb I am growing in the womb of God. I am surrounded, held, nurtured, protected by the unseen womb of a loving mothering God.

I think I have often had a difficult time picturing God as loving and nurturing. It is much easier for me to think of God as holy and other, as mysterious and unknown, as strong and powerful, as jealous and just. My usual images and metaphors for God (and the one’s I hear most often) consist of the merciful, but all powerful judge; the forgiving father; and on occasion the tender lover. But, they are all and have all been male images, and even the loving images have a hard edge to them. But, nurturing mother? Well, that’s one image or metaphor for God that hasn’t been a part of my repertoire. But, I wonder if I am missing out on a holistic picture of God because I limit my images of him mostly to male-centered father figures.

The picture of God as a nurturing caring mother feels incredibly powerful for me, especially at this season in my life when I feel immensely vulnerable. There is something entirely soft, warm, and inviting about a mother. I think we all have seasons of our lives when we long to be mothered, we remember our mothers care and kisses when we scraped our knees and burnt our hands and as adults there is still at times that longing to run to our mom’s and have our aches and pains kissed and cared for. The idea that God wants be that for me seems so beautiful to me right now. The idea that God wants to nurture and protect me just as I long to nurture and protect my child feels like an epiphany for me and I pray that God would take me deeper into the truths of his mothering, creating, nurturing nature.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman


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3 thoughts on “God as Nurturing Mother

  1. Oh dear Beth! I am really enjoying browsing through your blog…so many thoughts resonate well with me. Like this one…seeing God as mother has forever changed the way I connect with him…more tender and more trusting I feel like. Love this post!

  2. Thank you for these comments. My sanctuary is a “Mother of Nature” and is truly a sanctuary. The connection between beating hearts and the love of god is a cathedral I know and enjoy.

  3. El Shaddai. From Wikipedia-Harriet Lutzky, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology at John Jay College, City University of New York, has presented evidence that Shaddai was an attribute of a Semitic goddess, linking the epithet Shaddai with the Hebrew šad meaning “breast”, giving the meaning “the one of the Breast”, as Asherah at Ugarit is “the one of the Womb”.[9] A similar theory proposed by Albright is that the name Shaddai is connected to shadayim, the Hebrew word for “breasts”. It may thus be connected to the notion of God’s gifts of fertility to the human race. In several instances in the Torah the name is connected with fruitfulness: “May God Almighty [El Shaddai] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers…” (Gen. 28:3). “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]: be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 35:11). “By the Almighty [El Shaddai] who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts [shadayim] and of the womb [racham]” (Gen. 49:25).

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