Last week my mom, age 92 passed away. Very peacefully, with no suffering. Knowing that I wanted to write about her life, I had to give it some thought as to what to say. Being an only child, my growing up years were filled with lots of memories of people coming to live with us. There was always someone at church that, for many reasons, needed a place to live for a while. We had cousins from Michigan, missionaries, her Mother-in-law, my Aunt Gladys, after losing her husband. The list goes on and on. I felt that the extra bedroom, was always filled with someone. There were years that I know my parents really struggled financially, relationally and physically. Growing up, I remember thinking that when I was married with children, I would do everything totally different from how my parents did. Probably every child thinks that. My parents were always involved in church activities and I have such sweet memories of parties that were held at our home, which always involved lots of food. My parents loved God and even though our home wasn’t always as peaceful as it should have been, there was always the knowledge that was imparted to me that God was always to be first in our lives.
Over the last week, I have thought back to some of the things which my mom taught me, which at the time, I felt that she was just being “silly” and didn’t think she knew what she was talking about. As I have matured, I have often thought about her trying to instruct me in following God’s path for my life. It was sad that my mom spent many years as a very unhappy person. Looking back, sometimes I feel that maybe she always wanted people in our home so that she wouldn’t have the time to think about her situation, or having to deal with it.
The last few days I have heard some sermons on forgiveness, which was what I have been dealing with for many years regarding my mother. She was a good mom, and did the best she could. It became apparent after hearing these wise men preach that I truly had never forgiven her. It was always important to me that people know that there was another side to my mom which most people never saw. Now it has made me realize even more that God uses the ones who are available and willing. That we don’t have to be perfect for Him to use us. In spite of our failures, we can still be used to help others and to glorify Him. Even though I spent most of my life being emotionally afraid of my mom, I can still thank her for some of the things that are so important to me in my life and how I want to live. As Tony Evans says, “you can allow the “dents” that people put on your life and walk around mad every time you think about the hurtful “dent” or you can forgive them and walk around with an uninterrupted fellowship with God”. Isn’t it amazing how God places stories and sermons right in front of you at just the right moment.
Here are a few of the things that my mother tried to teach me.
1. She wouldn’t let me play with a ouigi board because as a Christian we are not to have anything to do with anything that has to do with “spirits”. I told her that she was being so silly, it was just a board game. Later, I understood what and why she was trying to teach me.
2. If you are well enough to go out to do anything, you are well enough to go to church.
3. Give God the first 10% of your income, 90% will go further, giving God what is due Him than 100% when you don’t. Years ago, she relayed the story of how one week, she and my dad were really broke and agreed not to tithe. That same week, their car broke down and the amount to get it repaired was the exact amount of what their tithe should have been. That was the last time they didn’t give their tithe.
4. People are right when they say that kids learn by watching, not just listening to words. I wish I would have learned that a little earlier than I did, not after my children were all grown.
5. To always keep the Sabbath holy. We were not allowed to go to movies or shop on Sunday, in fact, it wasn’t until later years that my parents would even go out to eat on Sunday, as they felt guilty making people work on. This is one of the rules I wish I had taught by “example” more when our kids were growing up.
6. To read my Bible daily and have personal prayer time.
Yes, my mother wasn’t perfect, in fact, sometimes she was truly very hard to get along with. But she loved God and she loved me and I just want to tell her thank you for being faithful to what she felt God had for her. She, like myself, failed many times, but her faith was strong and no matter how bad her mind got at the end, she could always recite scripture. Thank you Lord for being faithful to her and thank you mother, for passing on your love of God to me!