As many moms can probably relate to their children, I was not one of those toddlers who avoided dirt. (I later became a journalist, too...ba-duh-da!) Seriously, however, I used to drop bugs into my mother's cupped hands claiming that the variety of insects were always "friendly bugs." And God bless my mother, she held out her palm every single time. I'm not saying the bug never enjoyed an instant, free flight to the living room or wherever else my mother could throw with the force of Felix Hernandez, but she was always there, acting excited (and totally terrified) about everything I had to show her. I still love her for it.
Or, perhaps, there was the moment my mother realized I really did have a concern for animals when she found old, moldy carrots in the Christmas stockings one year. When asked for an explanation (I was four), apparently, I am told I answered with, "So the reindeer wouldn't get hungry after Santa ate all the cookies."
Then again, there was the time - when I was a teenager - that my mother refused to let me go to a baseball game with my Dad because I wasn't dressed appropriately. (In retrospect, I really wasn't. She was right.) Of course, there was also the time when, in college, I suffered from a depression and couldn't even open a book. My mother drove the hour and a half to my college and stayed with me for a week, outlining my material, reading with me to study, and preparing me for exams so I wouldn't fall behind in my classes.
I think one of my favorite moments had to be when I shipped my then-fiancé out to meet them, and his flight arrived an hour and a half before mine. When I got there, I found out that not only had my Dad paid the tip for the cab, but found my husband happily chatting with my Mom in the kitchen. Forget that I arrived, she just adopted this young man she had never met; by not tearing herself away from him to make a big deal about my arrival, I knew I'd found the man who could fit with my quirky family.
Motherhood is never easy. Joyous? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Not for the feint of heart? Yes. But a real mom is someone who will pry open your diary to read the answers you say are sacred if she suspects that there is a reason she needs to see the material. A real mom is someone who stays up all night baking fried chicken for your entire high school Jazz Band when you promised the director you would. (True story.) A real mom is someone who loves you no matter what you throw at her, even if the throwing is temporarily throwing her away during those ever-blessed, hormonally induced, "heart attack" years known as "The Teens."
She holds out the hope that you will one day love her back. Perhaps you already do. But that steady, consistent love is something that deserves a lot of honor, no matter whether your mother is someone who deserves it on the inside, outside, both, or neither at all. As Pastor Dave said over the weekend, we live in a culture of dishonor. In order to develop deeper relationship bonds, we need to "break free from the pain of life" when we practice honor. Or, as he put it more eloquently, "Love outlasts hate." Every person was once somebody's son or daughter, and even if forgiveness is tough in some situations, the Lord is capable of healing anything - particularly the emotions of the one who forgives. If the "performance" (love) is not possible, then the "mechanics" (honor) are more than required - they're Biblically mandated (see the first of the Ten Commandments). But, as Pastor Dave indicated, the "honor" you practice is really meant to change your own heart - or deepen it even wider if you're already metaphorically there. The Lord is concerned about each one of us as individuals, and, therefore, society as a whole. He will never stop loving us, and the "honor" we practice towards our mothers (whether they're related or not), is a reflection of our understanding that the creator of this universe knows the number of hairs on our heads and created us by name.
So, how can you love your mother? Pastor Dave offered four ideas:
- Love Her Unconditionally ("When God loves us unconditionally, it's not based on our merit, but His character.")
- Forgive Her Compassionately ("Forgive as the Lord forgave you.")
- Remember Her and Speak Gratefully ("Whatever you're grateful for, you'll be attracted to. What ever you're ungrateful for, you won't be attracted to it."]
- Treat Her Kindly ("Take the time to listen, make a phone call, or show some other practical form - no matter how small - of respect.")
There is an episode of "All in the Family" (for those of you young Millenials, it's a landmark, scripted sitcom from the 1970's) where Mike, one of the four main characters, outright hugs Archie out of affection, his father-in-law with whom he is always in a state of contention, after he witnesses a phone call from a different father who is pleading with his son to return home for a visit. The other father offers everything to his son, including money, to beg the defiant, ungrateful son to return. Identifying with not wanting to be like this other son, in what is meant to be a lighthearted moment, Mike then immediately goes and hugs the bewildered Archie...who is not exactly the "hugging" type...effectively saying "thank you" for all Archie had done to help him over the years.
In a show filled with humor, this example is one of many instances of poignancy, understanding the complex bond between parent and child. Although between a father and child, it illustrates an excellent example of how we should honor our mothers, too. Something like that anyways. Therefore, I encourage you, if you are on good terms with your mother, go give her a random hug or phone call and just say thank you. If your situation is more complex, pray to your heavenly Father to give you the capacity to forgive. An eternal display of affection is well worth your time, too. Whatever you do, may it further deepen your walk with the Lord. After all, He is leader of your soul...and He had a mom, too.
from Miracles of Hope, May 13-14, 2017