Flashback to a few days ago. Friday. May 11th. It was a normal morning, hectically getting the little girl and boy into the car before 6:30am, hectically battling traffic to drop off my daughter at school, and hectically running around before the first bell making copies and sending emails. But this was a special morning. This weekend would be a celebration of sorts. Mother’s Day. And so with this national holiday looming, during our senior homeroom, I asked my students what the best piece of advice their mothers gave them were.
The majority of the eighteen year olds answered that their mothers never say anything to them other than “Didn’t I tell you to clean up?” or “WHAT are you DOING?” The other teens said that their moms would give them the occasional nod of approval followed by a “Good job!” or “I love you.” It was then that I stopped the conversation and mentioned that ACTIONS can also be good representations of advice–despite the fact that “words of wisdom” denotes that a person must say something profound, an individual’s deeds can also impact another.
I then went on to detail how my mother grew up not going to church, and in fact, flat out refused my pleas to attend a Sunday service. Although only in elementary school, I instinctually knew that there was a “higher power” somewhere, and I wanted to learn more about who he/she/it was. But no, my mother was adamantly against any kind of religious service, and that was that. It wasn’t until my mom was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer that she began frequenting Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church and eventually became a strong follower of Christ. Throughout her spiritual transformation, my mom never said to me, “I now love Jesus and am going to do everything I can to follow Him.” No, in fact, she rarely spoke in such blatantly obvious words about her faith. What she did was SHOW me how much she loved Him by attending weekly prayer services, reading her Bible, journaling daily, and basically LIVING out the word of God.
I started telling my homeroom about all the ways my mother showed her love for God, and then came to the story about my mother when she was at in-home hospice care. It was in the middle of summer, right before my second year of college, and I was slated to go on a two-month long missions trip to China. But my mother was sick. Actually, more than just sick. She was ashen-faced with a hollowed stomach from not being able to eat much, and spoke not much louder than a whisper. I battled in my head whether or not to still remain on the China missions team, as I knew going to Asia would most likely mean I wouldn’t be there when my mother passed away. I asked my friends and the leaders of the team what to do: stay or go? I was internally conflicted, and wasn’t sure if I should board the plane or not, until one afternoon when I sat on the bed next to my mother, held her smooth hand, and heard her say these words:
“Go. Go to China. You are doing God’s work. Who am I to stand in the way of what Jesus wants you to do? Don’t worry about me. My mansion is already waiting for me in Heaven, and I can’t wait to be with Jesus.”
It’s hard to write this now, even decades after that fateful summer day when I looked into my mother’s crinkled smiling face, without feeling the tears start to form at the corners of my eyes. It’s because my mother’s advice, her “words of wisdom”, gave ME LIFE.
Do what Jesus wants you to do. My mother showed this idea in her actions and her prompting me to go to China further solidified that my life is not contingent on what others want or expect of me–my life is based on what Jesus wants for me. THAT idea of focusing on Jesus has carried me throughout all of life’s mountains and valleys. Now when I look back on my day, I realize that all I am meant to do, whether it be teaching Shakespeare at school, making sandwiches for the kiddos, or lifting some weights on the platform, all of it is done for Him and not my own validation. And when I look at my children’s grinning faces, run into my husband’s loving arms, or laugh over dinner with my close girlfriends, I know that Jesus is using me in some fashion to do His will in their lives. How amazing.
As I told this tale, I could see that my homeroom students became much more alert, much more thoughtful–and I sat back in amazement because even though my mother passed away so long ago, her words, her wisdom, her life, are STILL impacting others.
So as this Mother’s Day draws to a close, I just want to say thank you. Thank you, Mom, for giving me life–not just any life, but for giving me life in Christ. And thank you, Mom, because your life in Christ, your words and actions, and your love for Jesus, are still living on as a testimony of what it means to be a true disciple of His.