I hope you all have a blessed Mother’s Day!
Friends have wondered what Mother’s Day was/is like for me.
Growing up, it wasn’t the greatest because no gift seemed “good enough” to be pleasing to her, even if I’d saved up for something grand or spent long hours creating something I thought would be just right.
In grade school art class, we had to bring a bar of soap from home so we could each carve it into a turtle for our mother. I thought mine was awesome with sparkly sequins all over it! I even decorated the soap box so he could have a pretty home to stay in! I just knew I’d done well this time.
When I presented it, along with the handmade card we’d been encouraged to make, these are the words I remember being said in disgust as she looked at the wonky turtle in her palm: “What the &*%# am I supposed to do with this?”
I don’t know if she liked the card or the box. The words I heard and the look of disgust echo forward from the past. I’d heard similar words and looks about me instead of that turtle. So, the rejection was felt.
That was how I saw it from my viewpoint as a kid.
As an adult, I would hope I’d have the love and tact to thank a child and gush over whatever gift with which they chose to honor me. Also, from this older viewpoint, I look back at mom and wonder if it somehow comes from her being a child of the Depression era and rationing during World War II. From that perspective, could I see that her statement was a criticism about the teacher’s choice to take a practical bar of soap and turn it into an impractical “sculpture” with scratchy sequins? Truly, what was Mom supposed to do with it? That isn’t quite it, though. She’d treasured impractical gifts from others. So, there was something more involved.
Back then, it felt like I’d failed to please her. More significantly, it was that expression on her face — the set of her mouth as she looked at the turtle with distaste. It was the same look I often received from her.
Now, looking back with logic and love, I realize that her focus was “off.” Instead of recognizing the loving gesture from the giver, her focus was on the gift. She didn’t know how to see and love me. She didn’t know me, the giver. In her eyes, the gifts were inadequate in quantity and quality because that’s where she focused.
In church yesterday, the sermon was partly about biases we have as we come to God and His Word. It made me think back to the many stories from people about their parents and how they grew up. When people describe their fathers, I can often see how that relationship affects how they see our Heavenly Father. If a person’s relationship with their earthly father was/is strained, abusive, or absent , there’s work to be done to separate how those dynamics work in comparison to how a healthy “Creator and created” bond should look.
I know my phenomenal Dad’s love contributed greatly to my perspective of God. I am so blessed in that! However, did Mom’s hatred for me and self-loathing do anything to negatively affect my bond with God?
My first thought is “no.” We’ll see if that changes by the time I finish writing.
My caution of her created in me a caution of people, both male and female. Anyone has the potential to sin, to be harmful to themselves and others. I’m included in that broad sweep.
Yet, God has taught me that people can be forgiven with His forgiveness. I’ve also learned that people have the potential to love. I’m included in that broad sweep, too.
In the after-church discussions, hubby was sharing with a friend the subtlety of a Biblical truth being overlooked. Our friend was glad for it because a possible “blind spot” of his might be getting wrestled through. I also hunger to know my blind spots and have them erased, so I understood that desire. That’s why I’m thinking about this today.
Did Mom’s hatred and self-loathing negatively affect my bond with God? When I say, “no,” am I overlooking something? Do I have a blind spot here? Perhaps.
Is my caution of people at an unhealthy level? If so, then such does affect my relationship with God.
I currently don’t think it is at an unhealthy level, for either gender. That thought may change as God leads.
The next question seems to be, “Why hasn’t that caution been cranked up to “too high?”
Many have looked at my upbringing and express shock that it isn’t somehow more visible in my actions and words. I think that is due to God’s work in my life, so I am thankful.
Perhaps it is because of that very caution of people that I seem fairly “unscathed,” for that watchfulness is also turned on myself as a potential sinner. I have seen the state of humanity, which includes me. Beyond a shadow of doubt, I know God’s help is needed in order to corral my sinful nature.
The next question is usually, “Why isn’t that inward-focused caution beating you down, though? Why didn’t your experiences harm your self-esteem? Why didn’t these enemy attacks turn you into someone with self-loathing? What causes this self-confidence and sense of worth?
God’s Word tells me I have the potential to sin. He also tells me I have the potential to love. That’s my choice. I am no different than anyone else in that regard. Mom wasn’t different in that. Neither was Dad. My Heavenly Father tells me that we are all the same in that ability to choose. So, if I don the glasses He gives me, I can view all with some caution because of that free will; yet, that shouldn’t stop me from also choosing to forgive and love.
Is Mother’s Day still a terrible day for me? No.
How do I know that, through God, I am getting close to reaching that good balance between caution and forgiveness? Perhaps it is partly because I have chosen people I consider to be mother figures for me, and I wish them well on this day. Perhaps it is because, if she was still alive, Mom would still get a call and a card from me.
Maybe the greatest thing that has spoken to me about where I am with people (and also God) is the fact that, even though I have birthed no children of our own, there are those who say “Happy Mother’s Day” to me because they consider me to be a “bonus Mom” or think I have motherly qualities. That touches me right to the core and seems to keep me all squishy and tender inside. 🙂
Thank you, dear Giver, for these gifts You’ve given me that are all wrapped up in human flesh. Thank You for wrapping Yourself in flesh and giving me You. Happy Mother’s Day, Father!