You Take Brave Steps Toward Loving Others When You Count Yourself Worth His Love
My Mama is not to be trifled with.
She and Dad left suburban life broke, but determined to give their kids what they never had. Owning land, breeding animals, and growing fields in wide open spaces was the backdrop for a family that sticks together.
Before my sister and I arrived Mama birthed two boys, breech. At 4 and 6 she set them along the ditch with toy trucks so she could plow while Dad tended a stampede of pigs. She fed us, washed us—loved us the best she knew how.
The life we’re not intended to live forever.
At 83 I’m in the ER next to her beeping heart rate and IV. Mowing 5 acres of lush lawn has become one of her last outdoor pleasures, but an old crab tree got the best of her. The blade skimmed and the branch fell. Her long legs have fresh wounds and her tired ribs hit the steering.
The nurse is here to wheel her away for her CT scan. “You’re 83? What are you doing mowing grass? He says while unhooking a blinking machine.
“I like mowing the grass!” She fires back. (This poor soul had no idea who he was questioning.)
Waiting in the visitors chair, I think fondly on how my Mama struggled to create something better for us than she had for herself. While x-rays can add up internal injuries, they could never recount the core of what she really is. Picturing her precious life of unmet needs, unreliable dreams, and acute anxieties all whittling away at the life we’re not intended to live forever.
By despising what we are, we sacrifice what we need.
A Christmas ago Mom and I went shopping. Her and Dad had recently suffered some falls. Some nights the apprehension in making it up the stairs turned the living room into a cozy bedroom. It was time we traded their worn-down red sofas for something roomy and supportive.
Mom uses a cane traveling from one showroom to another. Hip surgery fixed the hip but left her equilibrium off balance. Afterward we stop for an early lunch. Taking a booth, Mom’s aging form appears to be shrinking into the leather surrounding her. Private moments like these bring up her longest running memory of having spent every day after school at Bernice’s house. Today she adds how that began the first day she could walk to school on her own. She admits like we’re two girls out on the town airing our overdue need for a sympathetic ear, “I was only there to have long talks with Bernice’s mother. I even volunteered my Saturdays to do her ironing just so we could visit. She listened to me like there was nothing else she’d rather do. She gave me a bible and talked to me about Jesus. I didn’t have any of that with my mom or dad.” Allowing herself to continue, she says, “I remember climbing up on Mother’s lap once for a hug. You know, when you just feel like being held, (she squeezes in her own drooping shoulders…and lets them fall) but all she could say was, ‘You picked the worst time for this.’”
Cupping the deep wrinkles of her hands, our veins becoming more and more visible—vessels that once flowed as one. These trembling hands that carried more than her homeless heart could ever hold. “You are so wonderful, Mom. I am so glad you are my mom.” And we get to see our faraway feelings right up close.
Buckling Mama up in the car I ask if she can say the hardest part of growing up in her home. Surrendered eyes look over the café we just left like she’s reasoned with this a hundred times. “My mom was always cleaning. A clean house was important to her. She didn’t want us having friends over. They would just mess things up. And Dad had to work—he was tired. Affection was not something they thought of.” There—right there—is how we shut ourselves in. Where the bigger mess of us surely begins. Little ones with no words but the ones inside our head. We pull back, cover up, and self-soothe instead. By despising what we are, we sacrifice what we need—a living, breathing, hand-holding miracle of God.
The Father will never tell you your timing is bad.
Can we stop in this very spot and imagine how the Father is the one Expert in Mothering us? Imagine yourself tossing and turning in bed. His presence at your side touching your head— humming you back to sleep. How much more will the Father, who molded the Mother, give what is good—what is fundamental—to His own crying in the dark?
Can the Voice who thunders not sing you to sleep? Is the Hand that laid the foundation of the earth not strong enough to hold you close and stroke your hair? The Lord, who raises the dead, can not rise to your side every needy hour?
The One who has seen the worst of you has only the best for you.
You are not without the Arms of a Mother—not by a long shot! Whatever your need, no matter the hour, you are never in want for a Mother! Call for the Father who will never tell you your timing is bad.
Jesus is the One given pain-killer for the hate we hold for ourselves inside.
Morphine goes into Mama’s vein and “I love you” comes out of her mouth. For the first time she says it without my saying it first. Another nurse appears closing the curtain and turning out the lights. My head takes a rest against the wall.
It’s noon and I’ve hardly eaten. I’ll get fruit before she wakes.
If we can feed our bodies fresh bananas, can’t we satisfy our hungry hearts? Food is for the body, and Love is here to consume. Jesus is the one-given pain-killer for the hate we hold inside for ourselves.
You take brave steps toward loving others when you count yourself worth His love.