Learning From My Deeply Flawed Mother

My mom would be the first to tell you that she’s made a lot of mistakes as a mother.

There have been many times in my life I wondered why she didn’t protect me, encourage me, comfort me or know me. I think we all ask our moms those pointed questions, whether it’s whispered in the back of our minds or voiced aloud in strained tones.

I fully expect that my kids will have lots of hard questions for me and try as I may to be the perfect mom, I will fail them many times.

But while imperfection is the lot of all humans, letting God’s light shine through the cracks in our character is an opportunity we all share.

When my dad was sick with cancer, I watched my mother transform. Normally indecisive, light-hearted and a most bubbly extrovert, my mother became our rock.

Strength doesn’t come naturally to my mom. That was my dad’s job; he was the firm one, he was the decision-maker, the unwavering one. His confidence made my siblings and I believe that no villain, disease or calamity would ever dare to darken our doorstep.

But then dad got sick and it became mom’s turn to make us feel safe, and honestly, she didn’t have it in her. Ask her and she will tell you that the strength she had to care for five kids and a sick husband for three and a half years took supernatural power from God.

It took supernatural energy to bathe and dress my father, to administer his round-the-clock doses of medication and still be a mother to four kids and a newborn.

It took incredible strength to watch my dad suffer excruciating pain and keep praying.

It took profound reliance on God to be her source of love and security. Cancer didn’t just destroy my father’s body, it stole his spirit. I can’t imagine how especially difficult that must have been for my mom.

You see, my dad absolutely adored my mother. He showered her with gifts every occasion that called for it and was extravagant with his compliments, always telling us that we had the most beautiful mother in the world. I can’t fathom how heart-wrenching it must have been to care for a man that could no longer give that kind of love to her and often forgot who she was.

Despite her painful and lonely circumstances, I remember my mother’s joy. She wasn’t falling apart or filling the gaping holes in her life with quick fixes. She let God be her everything: father, husband, friend and savior – and in Him she lacked nothing.

I’ve known people in similar situations that felt so tired and alone that they had affairs or turned to drugs and destructive behavior to find relief from their misery. But mom never did that, even though she could have done all those things and my dad would have never known because his mind and body were so helpless and deteriorated.

While I could easily make a list of my mom’s faults, nothing compares to her example of whole-hearted faith and explicit trust in God. When I think of my mother, I think of how God took a deeply flawed woman, riddled with holes and cracks from the blows life has dealt, and shined his light through her. She didn’t patch those holes or seal any visible cracks, she gave it all to God and he made her a beacon.

I am so thankful for my mother’s example. My prayer is that I too would have that kind of faith in my savior so that when my kids see brokenness in my life, they will just watch for God’s light to burst through.

 

Angie D 5/21/12 ©

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A Dose of Pain

When it comes to pain, I think most of us want it to have an explanation or a sensible purpose. At times, we glorify it as the bread and inspiration of the starving artist. In other instances we rationalize it as the logical and well-deserved consequence of idiotic behavior. Or sometimes we accept it like a dreaded routine immunization; just the necessary and proper dosage of discomfort to keep us from serious trouble in the future. As though pain should always make sense and have a reasonable ceiling.

But most of us have experienced or know someone that has experienced pain that makes no sense at all and causes us to feel like some unlucky lab rat chosen for a battery of deranged experiments.

I know it’s not rational, but I have often felt like I have received my lifetime allowance of pain and that I shouldn’t have to endure any more. Though I cling to the biblical principle that trials will refine me, I must admit that my natural inclination is to be left as I am, even if it’s a little rough around the edges.

I don’t believe that God is in heaven twirling his mustache thinking up all kinds of maniacal and complicated ways to fabricate difficult life lessons for us to learn from. But I do believe that there are times we aren’t spared pain so we can watch him work wonders from our twisted mess and grow in our faith.

I haven’t had it as bad as some, but I’ve had some pretty tough experiences:

I was a fat little kid that felt so ugly and insecure that I didn’t learn to swim because wearing a bathing suit was so humiliating. All I could think of was how exposed I felt. I knew all the skinny little kids in my class would be staring at the black hair on my thunderous legs and the lolling mound that was my belly.

Later, when I was sixteen, my father died of cancer. I was homeschooled during the three years that he was ill so our family could be together. This meant I had lots of credits to catch up on when I returned to school. I had to cram four years of school into two and a half, so my high school experience included zero hour, after school and summer school classes – without breaks. Grief, plain and simple, was a setback to my cracked-out schedule. The only viable option was to push through the pain, so I was back in school just a few days after his funeral.

Then after high school I was involved with a guy that cheated on me numerous times………That’s all I’m going to say about that.

There are so many more pathetic stories I could share, unfortunately.

Am I a masochist that enjoys reliving the relics of my most painful moments? No, but these memories remind me of where I’ve been and the many hurts that Jesus has healed in my life. I don’t want to forget my past and pretend that I’ve lived a spotless, simple life. I want to revel in the breath-taking wonder of how Jesus could take the tangled mess that was my life and create something fluid and beautiful.

I have had many painful times in my life that made me feel singled out and left me wondering what the point was. I still don’t know why some people suffer great losses and others seem to go through life unscathed. I think that pain is just a fact of life and is not bound to a merit system or swayed by notions of justice or mercy; it just is what it is.

One thing I am certain of is this: if the pain I went through was what it had to take to get me to where I am now, then it was worth it. Not because I found my strength or realized my mettle, but because I finally saw Jesus for what he is: my champion.

Jesus took my pitiable story and gave me a testimony. My confidence is found in Christ, not in what others think of me. My dad is dead and gone, but my Heavenly Father is alive forever and will never leave me or forsake me. Men are fickle, but Jesus is forever faithful. He forgives our sins, heals our pain, takes us just as we are and creates something amazing. Though our sins are erased from his memory, not a single moment is removed from our history but is remade because he truly works all things out, even pain, for the good of those who love him.

Angie 9/9/10 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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