A few years ago I wrote a list of things I had learned from several influential women in my life and shared it here. For each of these women, I chose a list of ten things that they had taught me. One of those women, was, of course, my mother. Needless to say, she taught me much more than just those ten things. I was fortunate to have a mother who instilled Christian values in me as well as giving me a great love of daydreaming and using my imagination. She loved me with a firm hand and tender mercies.
Our relationship was riddled with the usual upsets and imperfections and occasional sass, but I always knew she was a safe place to rest my weary head and unpack my troubled soul. I remember her praying with me on many occasions. One such occasion was when I accepted Jesus at age ten. She and my father knelt with me by my bedside. I remember pouring my heart out in tears as they prayed with me.
I also remember many a late night talk fest where she nurtured my dreams and plans or listened to me wax eloquent about the latest love of my life. I had quite a few crushes and she always listened with sincerity when I thought I was in love.She was even on board with helping me chase a certain family gospel group around because at 16 I was sure I was gonna marry their son. When I was 17 he married another young girl and broke my heart for about five minutes. We no longer had to travel all over the countryside to chase a guy, but that didn’t stop our late night talks about anything and everything. She was my biggest cheerleader.
A lot of people have gravitated towards my mom over the years needing her to be their cheerleader. She is a good listener and a natural born caregiver. She genuinely loves people and prior to the Alzheimer’s was always taking someone under her wing. It was nothing for her to bring someone into our home and nurse them back to health, or if they weren’t going to get well to bring them comfort in their final days.
I’m sure my mom has never taken a spiritual gifts survey, but I’m also sure that one of her gifts is mercy. She has always been at her best when helping others. She used to tell me that when I was old she’d take care of me. And were it not for the Alzheimer’s I know full well that she would be the first one by my side on the days that the MCTD wears me down. Even so, there are days she looks at me with such tender compassion when she realizes that I’m tired or not feeling well and she talks to me about Jesus.
It has only been over the past few years that I have truly begun to grasp the truth in number seven on her list: helping others is a way to help ourselves. As I have become her caregiver, and especially, as I see each day how much help she needs with everything it has been a humbling experience. Caregiving does not come naturally to me. I’m pretty sure I don’t have the gift of mercy. I love people; I have compassion for people; I do not want to take care of people. But, I take care of my mom because I love her and because she needs me.
I take care of my mom because she showed me how it’s done. She truly understands what it means to serve others. She understands that sometimes you sacrifice your plans to meet their needs. And, while it’s still a learning curve I’m beginning to see clearly how helping her is helping me. It’s helping me be a little less selfish as I put another’s needs ahead of my own; it’s helping me trust that God’s plans really are better than my plans as I reevaluate my dreams; it’s helping me learn to live in the present and savor simple moments as I embrace slow living; it’s helping me accept that there are things I cannot change as I trust God’s provision. I’m learning to live God’s way, submitting to his firm hand and tender mercies.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
What have you learned from your mother? I invite you to share her wisdom in the comments!
Thankful for tender mercies and grace,