Saturday, May 7, 2011
For my Momma
In honor of Mother's Day, let me share with you a few stories about my mom. I could reach back into the past and tell you stories about how she brought me up, but for this Mother's Day,I want to share a few things that my Mom does for me now that make me thank God for her and make her such a huge blessing in our life.
I'll start with a story from my wedding day. On my wedding day, I was decently calm and collected until about fifteen minutes from walk-down-the-aisle time. Then something happened that hurt my feelings. Evidently, what happened was a misunderstanding, but in my heightened emotional state, I took it to heart, and began to shake with fear and emotion. We were in one of the little Sunday school classrooms in my Grandmother's church- Culbreth United Methodist- and a handful of my bridesmaids were standing around when this thing happened. They looked at me and must have seen panic wash over my face, because when I said, "I need my mom. Go get my mom," they ran like the church was on fire.
My mom came into the room just as I started letting the panic pull the tears out. What's strange to me now, looking back on that moment, is that I remember how beautiful my mom looked. I had a whole thought about that, even when my world was crumbling on what was supposed to be the happiest day ever. But even her appearance fit my craving for something to reign in all that I was losing control of. My mom walked in, all class, beautiful in her blue dress, dignity personified.
I told my mom what happened and what she said will give you a good idea of who my mom is, and why I love her. I was feeling sad because I felt ignored. No bride wants to feel that way on her wedding day. One of the important guests at the wedding had walked into the room with me and said nothing at all to me, like I wasn't even there. Like I wasn't worth talking to. It hurt my feelings- even though, like I said, it was a misunderstanding apparently. The reason I share that is because it gives me greater appreciation for my mom's response to me. I think a lot of women would have just said, "Well, Meredith, of course you are absolutely beautiful today! Don't worry about that. You're such a lovely bride." Not my mom. She said,
"Meredith, you need to be a big girl. You can do better than this. And I need you to do better than this right now. Can you do that for me?"
That's my mom- telling her 28 year old daughter to be a big girl ten minutes before she's about to become a wife. And that's why I think my mom is great. Because she knew that being told I was beautiful wasn't going to cut the mustard. Plus, that's not her style. But she was doing what she's always done- setting a high standard for me- one that she knows that I can, through God's grace alone- live up to. One that she's never been willing to let me forget.
Having a mom who trains you up in God's standard for excellence as a woman and a wife is a blessing. Having a mom who humbly walks before you, taking complete ownership of the times she has failed to meet that standard is remarkable. And, particularly in adulthood, that's who my mom has been. Whose pride wouldn't love to say, "I've always humbly demonstrated Biblical womanhood to my daughter?" All of us want to say that in the flesh. But I know that my mom would rather me tell the truth and give glory to God by saying my mom did not always demonstrate Biblical womanhood perfectly.
But let me just tell you- that is the reason that I find her so incredible now. I've written about this before, and I'll guarantee you I'll write it again- because my mom is my hero for this- she allowed God to humble her in a way she never expected. This happened several years ago through a conglomeration of events God allowed into our lives. She fought it for a while- like we all do when God breaks our hearts so that we can become closer to Him- but eventually she submitted. Not begrudgingly, not half-heartedly, but with everything. And my mom changed. She sank into Jesus Christ with a trust I'm still learning about. Her heart became softer and even more authentically full of love for her Savior and her family. She stopped saying, "I've always tried to do this right!" and started saying, "By God's grace alone, I will live for Him today and trust Him with tomorrow." She let God have His way with her life, with her children, with her finances, with her future. And He took that humility and made something really special. I've always thought my mom was something special. But, now, she is marked by God's own hand. This is something I see women her age refuse a lot of the time. So many women with grown children refuse the work that God wants to keep doing in their lives because they don't want to admit that they haven't had it all together all these years. My mom gave up that kind of thinking, and I fully believe that she has received, like Job, a double portion because of that season of suffering and submission. Don't get me wrong, my mom has always done a great job being a teacher, care-taker, encourager- but by abandoning her pride, she walked into the Father's embrace. She stopped saying, "I've done well" so that He could say, "Well done." And that has made all the difference.
Let me give you an idea of how that time of growth changed my mom into something so beautiful. My mom used to live with a good bit of fear, and she liked control- who doesn't? But when my sweet Andy went to my parents' house after only a few months of knowing me and asked them if he could marry me, my mom's response was, "He is God's man for her." As precious as Andy is, I don't think my mom could have responded to him that way a few years back. Not because of him, but because his request meant she would lose me- to Texas. It would have been much easier to conjure up some kind of response that stemmed from common sense or practicality, criticism or familial pride. But my mom is all-faith when it comes to me and Andy. She always has been, and I cannot tell you what a blessing that has been to me this year. Over and over again, through cards, emails, conversations she has confirmed that he is "God's man." And it is my treasure, Mom, it is my treasure from you.
Another quick story about my mom's faith and assurance in who God is. This year, while I let anger and frustration turn me into someone who was not at all living up to the Godly standard my mom has demonstrated for me, I lost Gatsby one day. You might have read that blog. The story is in my book, as well. Anyway, I was sure that God was taking Gatsby because He was punishing me for my wrong attitude. While Gats was still missing, I called my mom, despondent, and said, "I think that God is punishing me." And she said, "I don't think that's the kind of God we serve, Meredith. He might be disciplining you, but He is not punishing you." And she said, and somehow really believed it, that she thought that God would bring Gats back home. She must have prayed something fierce up there in North Carolina, because an hour and a half later, when I was sure Gatsby was dog-napped or run over by a car, one of the maintenance workers at our complex came walking through our hall, letting us know he had found our little black and white dog.
Those are just random examples of something that is not random, but is unshifting. My mom is a woman of great faith, who believes in God's goodness, His sovereignty and His love for her and for me. But, more than that, my mom is a woman of great truth. And that, this year, more than ever, is what I am most thankful for. Because my mom has always told me the truth- the truth about God, the truth about herself and the truth about me. She hasn't hidden what is unpleasant about her own weakness or about mine for the sake of pride, but has trusted God to take what is less than what He wants and transform it, and God is faithful. He always has done that very thing for both of us. Because He is truth, and He can handle the hard stuff and make us into something beautiful.
Mom, I want to thank you for your devotion to our God, and your willingness to let Him make you into something new. Thank you for calling me to account and not letting me sink into areas of sin- anger, depression, complaint- and steal His glory. Thank you for reading my blogs and all my chapters, while they are still works in progress. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for valuing my words. Thank you for believing me, and regarding my feelings, my heart and my struggles as something that is legitimate. Thank you for not making me feel like I am always wrong- or always right, for that matter. Thank you for making sure that our conversations are full of grace, seasoned with salt. Thank you SO MUCH for loving my husband and esteeming our marriage. Thank you for protecting our union and loving it as much as you love yourself, your marriage to dad, and our family. Thank you for responding with grace to those who provoke you. Thank you for studying God's word daily and being so brave and leading others in church and BSF. Thank you for all those good recipes- people in Texas are grateful. Thanks for all that you do for me and Andy, Dad, Grant and those six crazy Cocker Spaniels we have. I love you so much and I cannot wait to see you soon! Happy Mother's Day!