Holidays irk me. Especially those so cleverly managed by Madison Avenue it's sacrilege to miss them. Apparently, Mother's Day took in an average of $172 per mom this year. So to my dear mother-in-law, "Sorry Mom, once again, we come in well below average."
Although Hallmark and others do manage more hits than misses, it always seems like such a manufactured sentiment for one of three primary relationships humans share: father, mother, spouse.
These relationships do not fit any pre-manufactured realities, cute rhymes or calculated prose. They can't. They are each unique, as is each person in the relationship.
Some days it seemed my mother was my mortal enemy, standing between me and what I was sure and certain was my destiny -- this week.
Was she a paragon of virtue? Not so much. The story goes that Grandma and Grandpa were worried that their little Francine was getting just a little too cozy with that young man she'd met at the roller skating rink and thought it would be best if she dropped out of high school and they got married. (I've never tried doing the math and I never dared to ask directly.)
Was she a fount of wisdom? Only as wise as she could be, given the day, the circumstances, and her hidden heart. Which is as wise as any of us can claim to be. She made her share of bad judgement calls and lived with the regret of those choices, the same as anyone else.
We weren't alike in any way that people noticed. In fact, my brothers and sisters always teased me, saying I was adopted. So many times children do not grow into the image of their parents until they're grown with children of their own. Then the similarities are undeniable.
We didn't see the world through the same set of eyes, so we were frequently at odds with one another on how we handled this or that event in our individual lives. But my turbulent teen years taught us to respect one another and we argued, but we never fought. She was heartsick when I told her about my baptism in 1981. She thought she'd taken care of that issue when I was but a few months old, and she cherished that baptismal record. But the event opened up an entirely new discussion on matters of faith and we became so much closer when we spoke of the Lord. Hers was an honest faith lived out in the midst of unrelenting trial and tribulation.
Mom considered each one of us blessings from heaven and loved to laugh as she revealed (in our later years) which birth control method had failed, resulting in our conceptions. They had tried them all. Only Dean, the fourth child and second son, was "planned."
Whatever else my mother was, she was always, faithfully, my Mom. Mine to call on, anytime. And so, I did. How she laughed when I called her when my babies really were babies and they were driving me to distraction! Vindication tastes sweet on the tongue. If you expressed a need, she'd move heaven and earth to find a way to see that need met. And not just for me, but for all five of us. No favorites, not one held above another, not one helped beyond another. How do you put that on a greeting card?
As Mom and I grew up together (as we who yet live in the midst of unrelenting trial and tribulation are all still growing up, together), we discovered something astonishing. For whatever reason, for whatever purpose, God chose her to be my mother, and me, to be her daughter, both of us born wounded, our souls sickened by the sin curse we all carry. That he would honor any of us with a gift as fine as the gifts that our children are, though they be wounded, souls soon to be sickened by the curse, reveals the mother's heart that lives in Our Father's mighty chest. Apparently, he was of the opinion that our lives, turbulent and trying though they would be, would be better because we lived them together.
Dan Allender asked in his book, The Wounded Heart. "Do I believe that God is a loving Father who is committed to my deepest well-being, that he has the right to use everything that is in me for whatever purpose he deems best, and that surrendering my will and my life to entirely to him will bring me the greatest joy and fulfillment I can know this side of heaven?" It's a question worth pondering.
If Mom had lived past her 50th birthday, she would have gotten, at the very least, a flowery card extolling her virtues and expressing my gratitude on Mother's Day. More than that, however, she had and has my respect every single day of my life, which is precisely as it should be.
"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12 (KJV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for a while and discover Him together.