Happy Mother’s Day! To both of our moms…we love you very much and appreciate the wonderful women that you are!
And, for fun this Mother’s Day, below is my submission for the “Her Life Reflected” writing contest that was sponsored by Christian Women Online. I hope you enjoy. You can also read the winning essay by Amber Benge here.
The Life of Joy
My life has always been filled with joy. I am the third child of four, the only daughter, all born within five years to Christian parents. We were raised under the safe and comfortable guidance of two parents who displayed unconditional love while demanding respect and enforcement of proper boundaries. Because of these boundaries, my life was filled with a sense of security and contentment despite several moves and very little money. Society propounds the view that money can buy security and fullness in life, while my parents modeled the truth that faith and love provide true security and contentment.
When I was young, my mom seemed unshakable. Her smile was safe, comfortable, warm and loving; her shoulder was always available to lean against; and her arms were always open for a hug. No matter how bleak and dark the world could seem, she remained full of joy and confident that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28 KJV). With three energetic and slightly mischievous boys and an opinionated, independent and stubborn daughter, I am quite sure there were days that my mother did not feel joyful or confident as her patience faded; and yet, I cannot recall during my childhood ever knowing that to be the case. Instead, she handled each day faithfully as she chose to “be joyful always” (I Thess. 5:16 NIV). Sure, her eyes could flash with anger, but those flashes were few and far between, and we only saw them when they were well-deserved. And yes, her eyes did reveal concern, sorrow and anguish, but her faith gave her the strength to maintain peace and calm in front of her family.
As the four of us kids entered our teenage years, I am certain my mom had to rely heavily upon her faith. After all, her eldest son was disassembling every appliance in the house in order to see how it worked – and causing bursts of smoke to waft out of the bedroom in the process, her second child was working late nights and talking about joining the military, her only daughter was as independent as ever and careening along country roads in her newly acquired vehicle, and her youngest son spent hours exploring the mountains with only a vague time frame for returning home. These were the years when her “silver-haired…crown of glory” (Prov. 16:31 NKJV) became noticeable — although I am not convinced my mom recognized the “glory” in those first silvery hairs.
These were also the years when I became aware of how my mom practiced her faith. Many mornings I awoke to find my mom curled up in the living room rocking chair, a blanket covering her lap, a cup of hot tea beside her, and her feet propped against the warm open door of the wood stove. Always, her bible would be opened in her hands and her face would be relaxed and calm. The message was clear. Her Savior was worth waking up early for. He was her source of joy. And conversing with him through His Word and prayer was safe, comfortable, warm and loving.
As life wove its way past the teenage years, we confidently marched our way into adulthood and mom faced a new season of her life. A season that continues to test her faith as she patiently waits for God to grow the many seeds that she sowed in her children’s hearts and minds. For her only daughter, adulthood brought marriage and motherhood, both of which have cultivated maturity and humility, two qualities that my mom modeled for me. Simultaneously, the addition of my own family has increased the respect and admiration that I have for my mom as I begin to comprehend the full joy that emanates from the love she has accepted from our Savior. My journey from childhood to motherhood has also taught me to appreciate the proper boundaries that were established between my mom and me during childhood. These boundaries grounded me with respect and integrity and challenged me to consider my actions and the consequences they would produce. They also taught me to be able to honor and humble myself before my Heavenly Father.
Although I no longer curl up against my mom on the couch, willing the worries of adolescence away as she strokes my hair, we do take every chance we can to sit with our cups of hot tea and share the ups and downs of our lives as we bid the world to slow down for a few hours. As Titus 2 exhorts, she continues to train me up in joy and to encourage me through the delights and frustrations of life, marriage and children. We laugh and cry, and I am able to catch glimpses of the Father in her words, her wisdom, her expressions, her emotions and her touch. And when multiple states separate our physical homes, we brew our individual cups of hot tea and curl up thousands of miles apart with our blankets and our bibles as we chat with our Father, sharing our smiles and our tears with the One who showers us with joy in every circumstance.
To me, my mother will always be, simply and completely, Mom. To everyone else she is known by the name, Joy.