The importance, impact and influence of mothers cannot be overstated. They matter immensely in the lives of their children.
The older I get, the more I realize how very fortunate I was to have a mother who loved me unconditionally and prayed for me continually. Through my good times and my bad, through my highly rebellious teenage years, my years raising my own children and my post-divorce years of questioning and reevaluating the rules, she was always there for me.
I think she understood, despite the grief and frustration I know I caused, that I was hardwired to question and to not accept much of anything just because someone said so. I think she also understood that this nature would benefit me as I discovered, doubted and rediscovered my own faith.
The process, while not easy for either of us, grew and stretched us both in our faith and our understanding of each other. Her steadfast faith in Jesus was an anchor for me no matter how often or how far I drifted. Even when I kicked the motor to high speed in an exhilarating attempt to feel unbound I knew, deep down, that her anchor would hold us both.
She likely knew that at some point I would start questioning what it actually was that I was running from, what I was rebelling against. She realized that processing through those questions would grow me in ways that no rules or words of wisdom ever would.
I am a hands-on learner. I learn things best and retain them the longest by doing, seeing or hearing for myself. This means, of course, I’ve learned many things the hard way.
I am equally thankful that while I always knew I had a safety net in her and in my family, that it wasn’t her nature to rescue me from the consequences of my own decisions even when she could. That is a strong kind of love. That is Jesus-like love – allowing us to choose, forgiving us when we make poor choices, allowing us the consequences of those choices and, yet, redeeming even the bad things for our own good and the good of others.
“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” Romans 8:28 TLB
The trajectory of my life has changed – which is the definition of repentance – but my personality has not. I have long since found my way solidly back to Jesus but it hasn’t tamed my questioning heart and mind. My learning style remains the same. This means my desire to learn and grow in my relationship with Him often pushes me into uncomfortable places to gain an active understanding of His will and His ways.
As a mom myself, I can imagine both the joy and the concern Mom must have felt as I left on a mission trip to a third world country or when I joined a ministry that goes into strip clubs to just show love and friendship to women who most need to know their true value to God. However, she knew my nature and my heart almost as well as God does. She knew that while these were not places I would have planned to serve, they were where God was clearly sending me and she was always supportive and had the faith to trust me in His hands.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
While I do learn things actively, I do not, by nature, have a brave or adventurous spirit. I have learned to follow God’s leading into the uncomfortable and even scary places. Each time my faith is reaffirmed and stretched. I grow exponentially each time I say yes to Him even when it would be easier not to. Every “yes” teaches me things I could never learn or understand by staying safely on the shore.
So thanks, Mom, for getting it and for getting me. I love you and I miss you more than words can express. I hope I am at least half the mom you were and know that I will always “just keep moving forward” until I see you again someday.