One of my favorite insults ever is “Mama’s Boy.”
I find those who throw it around to be delightfully ignorant of a whole host of facts, realities, and relationships. They accuse these boys of not being able to function on their own. They mock these boys for choosing to be within protective distance of their mothers (physically or emotionally).
Sure, I’ll grant you that developing a level of independence and autonomy is a great thing, but when I think about those who tried to insult me with this phrase as a young boy, well… Let’s just say I’m much more well adjusted than they are.
Recently, (thanks to Rachel Held Evans) I became aware that Calvinist preacher John Piper decided to say that God likes boy images a lot better than girl ones because, well, God has not only revealed “himself” as a boy, but has lifted up the boy ideal over and over in the Bible. I think that’s kind of silly.
One of the most powerful images of God I know of comes from Psalm 131:
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.
The Psalmist has so many images at his disposal to use, but, when it comes time to describe (again) his relationship to God, what image does he call upon? A little boy and his mama. A little boy who loves his mama so much that all he wants to do is be near her.
Developmental Psychologist James Fowler taught us that the earliest understandings we have of God come from the way we are in relationship with our parents, specifically our mothers. Think about that: We know who God is because of the ways we were loved and nurtured by our mothers as babies.
I’m afraid John Piper might be a little jealous of that. I know I am. I am a good father, I think, but when I look at the ways my boys revere their mom, I get kinda frustrated. When the five year old acts like he would crawl back into his mother’s womb if given half the chance, I feel that twinge of jealousy.
But that’s the way I feel about God. I love God so much that all I can think about is being surrounded by that Divine Love.
In the end, I like God as Mother because it reminds me that I’m just a Mama’s Boy, that I can’t really do this on my own. Sometime, I’m just too scared to do this on my own, and I just need to crawl up in my Mama’s lap and let her hold me and tell me everything is gonna be all right.
Here’s a tune I wrote about being a “Mama’s Boy” (you can have it for free if you want it):