The Mothering Qualities of God 

The Mothering Qualities of God  May 11, 2024

“Just as God is truly Father,” she writes, “so also is God truly our Mother.” – Julian of Norwich. 

This week, we collectively come together to celebrate our mothers. But the question is not just about who our mothers are, but also what are the qualities that woman possesses that are “mothering”? At a church I once served, I had a woman stand up in the middle of my sermon on motherhood and ask me, “pastor, what if some of the women in this congregation have never been mothers?” Not only did this stop my sermon in its tracks, but it also changed how I looked at the quality of “mothering.”  

Julian of Norwich 

Julian of Norwich was born sometime in 1342 in what is believed to be Norwich, Norfolk, England. A celebrated mystic, her most well-known piece of work was Revelations of Divine Love. Norwich would have 13 visions, all of which are chronicled in this work. Most often, we can attribute the notion of God as mother to this piece of work. There is a lot of lore around Julian’s life and her work as an anchoress.  

In Revelations of Divine Love, Norwich offers,  

“Jesus Christ, therefore, who himself overcame evil with good, is our true Mother. We received our ‘Being’ from Him ­ and this is where His Maternity starts ­ And with it comes the gentle Protection and Guard of Love which will never ceases to surround us.” From “Revelations of Divine Love” by Juliana of Norwich (1342-1416), (LIX, LXXXVI). 

She further goes on to say this: 

“As if to say,  I am the power and the Goodness of the Father, I am the Wisdom of the Mother, I am the Light and the Grace which is blessed love, I am the Trinity, I am the Unity, I am the supreme Goodness of all kind of things, I am the One who makes you love, I am the One who makes you desire, I am the never-ending fulfilment of all true desires” 

Taken from “Revelations of Divine Love” by Juliana of Norwich (1342-1416), (LIX, LXXXVI). 

I have been on a writing kick lately looking at deconstruction and even in my last post, understanding how we look or even understand God. (see ) 

God as el shaddai 

Often el shaddai is noted as God Almighty and culturally co opts the meaning of the word itself. The word “Shaddai,” is derived from the root word meaning “breast” or “mountain and was probably too sensitive of a word for early, prudish church fathers to consider as quality of God. I think though, despite how my juvenile brain may perceive this, we have a powerful example of the mothering quality of God. God as provider, God who nourishes us, who like a mother, holds us close as we are gathering nurtrients and maintaining our safety by holding us close. Instead of a God who is far away, here, we have a God who is intimate, close.  

I often remember our breastfeeding days and the interactions my girls had with my wife. How their gazes locked lovingly onto each other. The tenderness of the snuggles, the smiles, the cooing, the smiles and the laughter. It seems to me that this is a much nicer version of God that what we have been historically fed.  


Often, we see God as creator. It is not a large leap then to consider creation a motherly quality. Julian brings us back to sophia or wisdom. If your faith leans into the omni’s, God here again possesses a mothering quality of God. If you can get your head around a warm, embracing, mothering God, a culturally appropriate reading of the name el shaddai offers us another version of God.  

But really what for me is mothering qualities, is a woman who is patient, kind and from my humanistic psychology point of view creates meaning not only for her children, but also for her family and her community.  

A mother like God is faithful to her children, even if they are knuckleheads. I know because I spend some time professionally helping parents set boundaries and still love their adult children when they make mistakes or errors of judgements in their lives.


My mom, Susan is a funny gal. She has always embodied the humor of her father and her grandfather. She has always been a guide and a nurturer. She may tell you that she is an alien, but that is beside the point. She embodies not only the mothering qualities of God, but also possesses a kindness that is often missing these days.  

A Prayer for Mothers  

I entrust thee my very dear ‘children’ and I pray, supreme and eternal Father, let them not be orphans. 

Visit them with thy grace, so that, dead to themselves, they may live in the true and perfect light. 

With the gentle bond of thy love unite them, that they may die consumed by love! 

(St Catherine of Sienna, “Passione per la Chiesa. Scritti scelti.”, p. 192) 



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