There are numerous women in all of our lives. All of us, regardless of biology, have both a feminine and a masculine side to our personalities, and we’re all a blend of what has traditionally been labeled femininity and masculinity. To be healthy and whole, we need to learn to listen to the women in our lives and respond appropriately.
We all had a human mother. Some of our mothers were wonderful, some were horrible, some were absent, some were abusive, some were wise, some were insane, most did the best they could. Some of us had non-biological mother-figures – perhaps an adopting mother, a foster mother, a grandmother or an aunt, for instance. None of our human mothers or mother-figures were perfect. Growth involves an honest, objective reappraisal of our mothers or mother-figures, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, celebrating their nurturing gifts and forgiving their weaknesses and failures.
We all have a mother complex, which has little to do with our human mothers. Our mother complex is that regressive part of us that wants to return to childhood and be taken care of. No matter how old or mature we are, a part of us longs for nurture and tenderness. We all have a little child deep within. To become whole, we must find ways to be tenderly nurtured, to care for the inner child.
Some of us have wives, our flesh and blood spouses or female partners. Some of us are wives. Those of us who have wives need to remember that our wives are not our mothers. Those of us who are wives need to remember we’re not our partner’s mother. Ever meet a guy who married his mother? Or one who keeps comparing his spouse to his mom? Ever meet a wife who mothers her spouse? It doesn’t work well. A wife, a spouse, a partner is just that – a partner, a companion, a fully functioning, independent, intelligent, human being who has chosen to do life with us. Not your mother.
We all have what Carl Jung called the anima, the fair maiden within, interior inspiration and creativity. In mediaeval grail myths, the protagonist is enamored with Blanche Fleur (French for White Flower), his personified feminine side of beauty and grace. Everyone regardless of gender is creative in some way. Finding an area to express creativity is vital for spiritual growth.
The protagonist in those same grail myths meets a hideous damsel who condemns him and reminds him of his every failure. She tends to show up while we’re receiving honors or recognition. She represents that inner voice of condemnation, that script that says we’re losers, no good, incorrigible sinners. That voice is often the voice of a parent or of religion. We have to learn to replace that voice with the inner voice of love.
And, we all have the capacity to be in touch with Sophia, wisdom personified (as in Proverbs), the mother archetype, the feminine side of God. It is there that we discover God to be reliable, nourishing, sustaining, tender, gentle, and caring. Ultimately, deep, intimate fellowship with the living God is what heals us and makes us whole.