Generally Speaking: Happy Mother’s Day

By MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

I love this verse. It applies to just about everything in life…and especially navigating the mixed bag called motherhood where we often need a lot of “transcendent understanding and guarded hearts” because who is rational when it comes to one’s children?

It is easy to get our priorities all out of whack as we seek to love, protect and nurture and sometimes run ahead of God in directions He never sent us.

Have you ever been jolted awake in the middle of the night and sensed that your child was in harm’s way and heavy-duty prayer was in order?  Sometimes years pass before a child—now an adult—confides exactly what was happening at that moment.

Oh, how precious it is when we recall, “Oh, yes, I remember that night.” And is it even more precious to realize that God was watching?

There are so many times across the years that God has impressed on me that He is God and, in all my frantic manipulation, I am not.

But it sometimes seemed in my mother duties that was a harder than usual lesson to learn —or at least to retain.

I seemed to need to be continually reminded that I was not the Holy Spirit where my children were concerned. I simply was not always leaving it to the Holy Spirit to come through. 

Motherhood has to be one of the most difficult paths any woman ever chooses.

Few tasks can rival the potential for ecstatic joy or gut wrenching pain.

We all enter into it without so much as a probationary period or correspondence course in practical instruction. Despite the case for innate “maternal instincts,” most of us had a fleeting thought like ”What have I done” the first time that tiny wrinkled bundle of flesh and blood was placed in our arms.

My first child was born on April 3, 1975. Like most first babies, he arrived after a very long labor - red, wrinkled, swollen – not so cute to a bystander, but he was the most wonderful gorgeous creature my eyes had ever seen. I considered him extraordinary in every way.

Five weeks later I celebrated my very first Mother’s Day. It was a huge day from my perspective. I even recall the Sunday sermon that day. Eager to become the best mother I possibly could, I was slightly uncomfortable as the lesson unfolded.

The scripture was I Samuel I, the story of Hannah, the barren woman who wanted to be a mother more than anything else.

She promised to give her son to God should He bless her with a baby – and He did – and she kept her promise delivering Baby Samuel to the high priest in the temple when he was little more than a toddler.

I couldn’t imagine being asked to give up my son.

Dr. Patterson’s point was that we should never love a gift from God more than we love the Giver Himself. 

I realized that finding the balance in my new role would prove more difficult than I had ever dreamed.

I think it is the sheer thrill of being a vehicle in God’s amazing plan of procreation that makes it so easy to idolize our very own precious miracle.

I have found, too, that I am just as tempted to make idols of my grandchildren…some lessons we have to learn again and again. The ties that bind us to our children – and grandchildren -  are solid, fierce, sacrificial and impossible to sever.

Those little people have a power over us that we seldom allow any other human being to have.

They bring incredible joy but they have just as much ability to inflict incredible pain. It is dangerous to love anyone so much, isn’t it?

I have often quoted Elizabeth Stone who said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous.

It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

But it is also in the parent child relationship, more than any other, that we come close to comprehending God’s boundless love for us.

It is surely because we are created in His image that we can know the reality of such a powerful form of love.

The comforting words of Romans 8:38-39 ring true: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 13, Love never ends.

 I remember thinking if I had been God, I would not have trusted someone like me with anything quite so precious, vulnerable, and valuable as another human being. Forty four years later, I have not changed my mind because I indeed have had my share of mess-ups. But, still, I am so grateful God allowed me the journey.

Happy Mother’s Day. I have found it to be worth every tear along the way. After all, there are a whole lot of laughs in the mix.

 

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