Remembering God’s love on Mothers’ Day

(The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2020 - 12:00am

Today, on Mothers’ Day, I remember the song, Hindi Kita Malilimutan. Composed by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, in the ‘80s, it became one of the signature songs of Basil Valdez. Since then, the song has become popular in funerals, where the dead person becomes the focus, one who will not be forgotten.

So very few appreciate it as a love song by God to His people. The song was lifted from Scriptures, Isaiah chapter 49, verses 15-16.

It was God’s direct response to His complaining people who were on exile at that time. They said, “I don’t get it. God has left me. My Master has forgotten I even exist.”

And God’s response —

“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,

walk away from the baby she bore?

But even if mothers forget,

I’d never forget you Never.

Look, I’ve written your names on the back of my hands.”

This was how God responded to the cry of His people. They could not believe that help would soon come and that they would soon return to their hometown, Jerusalem. They felt abandoned by God. Forgotten.

Although the people’s response was negative, God did not get angry. Instead, in a simple and loving way, He assured them of His love by describing His love as a mother would love her baby. Perhaps, if I were to get this disturbing comment from my children, I would be angry. But this story made me realize that I could be honest in expressing my thoughts and feelings to God. I don’t have to pretend because He knows me anyway. During this lockdown, it’s so easy to be negative. But I’ve learned to freely say to God whatever I’m feeling. Bottled-up emotions could ruin me.

I remember the first time I put my firstborn, Amihan, on my breast to nurse her. That year 1983, powdered milk was ferociously marketed to hospitals. I had to fight for my right to breastfeed! I had to endure the pain and literally crawled to the nursery to put my baby on my breast. Once I felt Amihan latch on to me, something magical happened. The pain didn’t matter to me anymore.

The feeling was indescribable! Nowadays, it’s common practice to put the newborn on the breast of the mother. I see it on social media. But beyond the photo-op and the tweet, an unforgettable feeling surfaces once the baby rests on the breast of the mother. Behold a perfect picture of tender, loving care. That’s the love of God.

Unlike God’s love, my love for my children is imperfect. I make mistakes. But God’s love is perfect. I cannot outlove God in loving my children. After all, my children are also His own. Therefore, I should stop my overprotective ways, treating them like they were still babies in my arms. Because even if it were possible that a mother could forget her baby, God does not. He said, “I will never forget you.”

Hindi Kita Malilimutan reminds me that God loves me deeply even if I don’t feel it at times. I love looking at sunrises. Once, I was enjoying the sunrise when a cloud covered the sun. I could no longer see the sun. But I know it’s still there, hidden behind the clouds, giving heat and light to the world although I couldn’t see it. Sometimes, problems of relationships, isolation, finances, become my cloud.

When we hear news of patients with COVID-19, they are identified by a number. But just as the song says, my name is “inukit” or etched on the palm of God’s hand.

What a great encouragement at such as time as this that God knows Leonora. He knows my name! It’s like a tattoo on the palm of His loving hand.

The thought that God has etched my name on His palm blows my mind. I shall hold on to this wonderful truth this Mothers’ Day. And every day for the rest of my life.

*      *      *

(Leonora Aquino-Gonzales recently retired as a communications specialist after working for almost 25 years at the World Bank. Based in Bangkok in the last 4 years, she worked on Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. She is a contributor to the books, Passion and Power and What about COVID-19?, both published by OMF Literature Inc.) - Leonora Aquino-Gonzales

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