A lot of the best lessons I have learned in my spiritual life have come through my role as a mother. Some of you may remember that my path into motherhood wasn’t just smooth sailing, but began with pregnancy complications that required complete bed rest. Those first experiences of sacrifice for my children were the start of a journey into a deeper experience and understanding of God’s great love for me that I began to appreciate in new ways because of my own love for my children.
Over the years, the tasks and experiences of being a mother have continued to shape and equip and form me as a person, as well as a servant of Jesus. My greatest wish as a mother has been that I would notice, appreciate and support who and what God has made each of my children to be. As a parent, it is sometimes easy to get caught up in something we want for our kids because we think it would be a good thing. We can have lots of ideas about who they should be or what they should do. But what I most want, is for my children to know God and to be who God made them to be.
When I was younger, I didn’t value my role as a mother because I felt anyone could be a mother. But as I have become older and, God-willing, a little wiser, I have come to understand that mothering has indeed been an activity that has brought to bear the greatest focus of my spiritual gifts and personal talents. I have come to realize much of my approach to life and ministry has been birthed out of the training and formation that took place in the crucible of motherhood.
And, look what God has done. I have had the incredible opportunity to love and care for other people’s children over many years. This week my oldest godson took me out for lunch to celebrate my birthday. We reflected on our twenty-year history together and talked of many things. As we spoke of some of the losses in his life, he said to me, “But I have always had you.” And by the wonderful ways of God, I have always had him. I love him with all of my heart and have been richly blessed to be in his life for so many years.
And by God’s amazing grace, I have been equipped for this ministry of companioning young people through life. The things I do are the unglamorous work of mothering: feeding people, listening, driving people places, helping with homework, doing problem solving, giving lots of hugs. But in and through all that, I get to try to offer each child a glimpse of who they really are: a person uniquely and particularly made, known and loved by a God who is completely and totally for them. I get to support and encourage the formation of their faith in Christ. I get to love and appreciate them.
It is my prayer that each one of you is experiencing the joy that comes from being at work with God in the world. We are so grateful for your prayers and for your gifts.