I Have a Mother
I have a mother. She taught me how to uproot flowers so they can be replanted in healthier soil. She showed me how to fold towels just so in order to line them up correctly in the linen closet. She helped me learn how to sew lines with my swing machine, making sure the tension wasn’t too tight or too slack.
She also taught me most everything I knew about Jesus. Now if he were walking with us, skipping over sidewalk cracks and anthills, he would have stopped to speak to the elderly woman passing by. He would not waste a chance to make her feel known and important.
She showed me that Jesus values the fight against injustice- that he weeps over children like those in my mother’s preschool classroom who came to school without coats in the winter, and as my mother clothed those kids out of her own resources, I learned that Jesus would have, too.
My mother showed me how much Jesus loves the little ones without a family to call their own- how he would have given the “chief seat” at our kitchen table to a little boy without a mom or dad, holiday after holiday, just as my mother did.
She steadily taught me through the times of both lean and plenty to choose joy, to look for the place in my landscape to be grateful for, to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness that does not depend on circumstance. Day in and day out, as she walked me through the successes and dismal failures the come with goring up, my mother taught me to look closely for the beautiful blessing that could be found in any moment. She worked hard to train my eyes to see such things all of my days growing under her care.
To be completely truthful, my mother has said some pretty profound things to be sure, but these things from her that I have learned and taken deep into my heart- these are the the things I saw her doing and living, day after day. The steps she has taken while I have watched and listened- these are the things I have learned.
And now I am a mother, my arms sometimes full to the brim with children and responsibilities and all of the uncertainty that comes with it. And as I think about who I am to my children in this season, I remember: folded towels, lonely neighbors passing by on walks, coats for small, cold bodies, and I remember. Who I am as a fully known, fully forgiven, and unbelievably loved child of God will be what my children need to see in me. I can relax about saying all the right, important things. I don’t have to carry the guilt and pressure of wondering if my kids are in the right activities, if they are being fed exactly the right organic, free range everything all the time, if I am doing everything I can to build creative, exciting soil for them to grow in. My job, my first and at the core only job, is to sit at the feet of my Jesus, to spend time listening to his voice, learning what it is he loves, and then running with everything I have after those things. Then my children will learn what Jesus loves as they see me live, not from a to do list but from a place of deep friendship with my Father.
My encouragement to all of us who are parents is to stop worrying so much about saying the right things to our children, and instead let our hearts speak through our lives. In the same way my mother taught me how to serve and love through her actions, may our lives be the clearest reflection of the beautiful self sacrificing God we pray our children will come to know.
For me, that means spending time hearing from my Father, sitting close to him and growing a spirit that loves like he loves, sees like he sees, fights for what he fights for, so that my children will know the love of their God through my life. As they look back someday over their own growing up, may our children remember not our words, but our entertaining angels.