Seeing the Beautiful and Strong in My Mother
The funny thing about becoming an adult is that you begin to see your parents differently.
You start to understand and process the things that never really made sense to you before.
My parents celebrated 25 years of marriage (and my oma and opa celebrated 50 years) this summer. That is kind of incredible. I see friends starting out new marriages and new families, and I can’t help but wonder where they will be in 25 years.
My mother gave birth to 5 kids. She stayed at home and raised us, which trust me, has been a pretty rough road. Let’s just say we have not been the easiest bunch, and our mistakes and rebellion have caused her nearly 12 years of heartache.
Despite the turmoil, there are some incredible things I have grown to appreciate about my mother. So often we forget to honour our parents, we are more comfortable picking at their flaws or mistakes or quirks, but now when I see my friends holding their newborn babies and contemplating the best ways to raise them, I suddenly see how much love comes with bearing children, and how many lessons can be learned from the ones who went before us.
1) Has not let her identity be solely in her kids. She loves us, she is proud when we succeed and distressed when we fail, but she has made her life about than us. Today, as I hear stories of other parents falling apart when their kids leave home, I really appreciate that about her.
2) Because of her identity not being wrapped up in us, she has never pushed us to follow her dreams for our lives, but our dreams, or more specifically God’s dreams. Some of my siblings are farther along in that journey than others, but that is how it goes. For example, when I joined YWAM, I remember so many of my friends wanting to pursue incredible dreams, but not being able to, because it wasn’t in their parents plan for their lives. Their parents did not support them in it. I have been so blessed by my parents, and specifically my mother’s willingness to let me follow all that God has put on my heart, even when it has been unconventional or taken me far from home. Once I asked her why she let go of me, and her response was so true, she said that if she held on she would have lost me, and she is probably very right. She let me find my way, and for that I am so thankful.
3) My mother has followed purpose. She always dreamed of going to Africa, and in her mid-thirties, with 5 kids at home, she did go for the first time, and after that many, many more times. Through that she opened my eyes to the world and to suffering. She made me aware that my actions can alleviate suffering and influence change.
4) She kept moving forward when times were tough. Our family, as I said, has gone through some really hard years, through things that have made me feel like continuing to fight for family isn’t worth it. But my mum has kept going, she has kept fighting. In the midst of hardship, she has stood strong. That has made me see that we are so much stronger than we might anticipate.
5) She didn’t just keep going, she bettered herself through the hard times. My mum went back to school a few years ago to become a library technician because she is passionate about books and bringing knowledge to those who do not have access to it. She recently finished her school and just got hired for a new job.
6) She leads through service and through love. I am so different from my mum in that the idea of being in the background of something has always been hard for me. I think I have often compared our forms of leadership, and concluded that because I am not like that, I am not as good, or as humble, or a servant. On the flip side, I have thought that serving in the background has meant that my mum is unfulfilled or that she is must not like to lead. It has taken me time to realize different is not bad. Leadership can be in the forefront, but it can also be in the background. Each take a different kind of strength, but true leadership should be based in service and love no matter your actual ‘role’. My mum has continued to lead through love even when it has hurt. She loves my dad, she loves her kids, and she loves people on the other side of the world. She notices people who are faithful, she sees the service that other people often overlook. She is the one you find in the background, organising, cooking, and serving. Her skills are different than mine but the principle behind her actions carries so much truth.
This week, something very significant is happening in the life of my mother. She is seeing so many aspects of her person and her purpose come full circle.
She is stepping into one of her dreams, co-leading a team to Zambia, Africa to establish a library at the Children’s Home where she has invested so many years of time, love, and energy, both on the forefront and in the background.
One and a half years ago, I wrote about how my mum was collecting books for a library. Now after having completed her education, spending many hours planning and serving, she will see this library become a reality. I am so proud of her. Pray for her and the team, they just landed in Zambia last night and will be there until the 8th of October.
Sometimes we can forget the scriptures mandate for us to honour our parents. Today I honour my mother and my father, they have shown me what it means to love despite the circumstances, and they have given me a perspective on how big life is.
What are some of the good things you honour in your mother or father? Take a moment to acknowledge them for it this week.