By Melissa McLaughlin
What are some of your earliest memories of your mom?
One of my earliest recollections of my mom takes place on a small farm my parents owned when they first started out. I remember my mom singing a lullaby to me as we sat in the soft grass near a wispy willow tree that grew in a meadow just below the farmhouse. Willow trees remain one of my favorites to this day. Any wonder?
Most of all, I just remember being loved. I was given healthy meals and healthy boundaries, bedtime stories and time to play, goodnight kisses and nighttime prayers. Though we never had a lot of money, we had delicious food, clean clothing and a comfy home with a bountiful backyard and wondrous woods for exploring. I remember Mom making my favorite cake each year on my birthday. One year she even sewed a handmade collection of Barbie clothes as a gift for me! Every summer, we had a small list of chores to accomplish before lunch. If the chores were complete, she piled us in the car and drove us to the local community pool for an afternoon swim. This was the highlight of the summer, diving and splashing and gliding in the cool refreshing water! Mom and Dad took us to Sunday School and church every week and raised us to love Jesus, which is a gift that keeps on giving!
Though all these descriptions are sweet, they don’t do justice to the gift of my mom. How do you capture the love of a mom?
Being a mom means joyfully carrying out the daily grind with little or no appreciation. Mom drove me to doctor’s appointments, school activities and friend’s houses to play. Mom tenderly cared for me when I was sick, so a sick day was never all bad for me. She ensured the bills were paid, the groceries were bought, the meals were prepared, the teeth were brushed and homework was done. She kept us on a sensible schedule so we got to bed on time and woke up ready for school the next day. Though each of these tasks could easily be disregarded or unnoticed, when you add them all up, they make for a long workday! In spite the daily “to-do” lists that every parent bears, my mom made certain I felt loved. She was quick to offer a word of encouragement, a cozy hug and a sunshiny smile.
Above all, my mom continues to demonstrate a life of sacrificial love, putting the needs of my disabled brother before her own, day after day after day. This kind of love is the rarest of gifts.
As we remember our moms and reflect on ourselves as moms, however, we must remember that no mom is perfect. Often we recall only the soaring moments or only the moments of failure, both in our own lives or in our mothers’ lives. Looking at some of the Biblical moms, we see lots of inspiration and lots of failure.
In Genesis 4, the first mom, Eve, gave birth to her two sons, Cain and Abel. In no time at all, there was a rift so great that Cain took Abel’s life, despite God’s efforts to draw Cain close and provide the emotional healing he needed. What kind of mother raises children who would kill each other? A mother just like you and me.
In Genesis 27, Rebekah encourages her younger son, Jacob, to deceive his father in order to receive the blessing typically reserved for the oldest son. What kind of mother gets involved in deceit and favoritism between her own children? A mother just like you and me.
Contrasting this, in Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman, who was an outsider among Jews, pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus commended the woman for her great faith and healed her daughter instantly. A mother fighting for her child is a treasured image of motherly strength. Another mother like you and me.
In John 19, when Jesus was hauled off to be crucified and so many friends had fled, one of the few people who remained by his side at the cross was his own mother. This I cannot imagine. Standing at the feet of your son, watching him be executed for the redemption of the world. John 19:25 …but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
Jesus, with a heart of compassion says these words in the very next verse, John 19:26-27– When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Clearly, we see Biblical mothers who inspire us and we also see Biblical mothers who have failed, just as we have failed.
Despite it all, God demonstrates His tenderness for a mother’s heart, for as Jesus hangs bloody and dying on the cross, He remembers in that very moment, the heart of a mother.
So this Mother’s Day, may you cherish the sweetest of memories that your mom gave to you! May you also remember that God can redeem those areas where we have failed, so let us release them to Him at the foot of the cross, look up into the eyes of Jesus and see His love for the heart of a mother.
May we draw near to Him and be filled with His love, that we may love others fully and point them to a Love that is deeper and wider and fiercer than a mother’s love…the Love of God.
Most of all, may we each remember this:
In our glory and in our failures, God loves us.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
God sent His first touch of love to each one of us, through the hand of a mother.
What a privilege.
What an honor.
What a grace.
To be a mother.
Photo of Mother’s Hands and Child’s Feet courtesy of WordPress.com
Photos Below ©Melissa McLaughlin