Mother’s Day – the Truth

Sometimes, Mother’s Day provokes me.

This year (yesterday), the catalyst was an article about a dad who had to raise his one-month-old daughter alone.  No, her mom didn’t die; she left.  Exited. Of course, the story is more detailed than that.  It always is.  But the given details are mostly about the father’s journey.  So while I’m applauding this dad’s commitment to his daughter, I’m also thinking about that mother.  Why’d she leave?  What was going through her mind?  Did she have everything she needed…to stay?

See, we can shake our righteous heads and tell everyone how motherhood is about Sacrifice.  But we don’t always tell the whole truth.  Motherhood, with all its dimensions, is intricate and beautiful—true.  Also true: It. Is. Hard.  And on the hard days, many of us head-shakers have glanced twice at that exit, too.  The holiest of us have looked from screaming baby to snoring partner, struggling with ungodly thoughts.  The gentlest of us have lost it with toddlers and teens; said and done things we wouldn’t confess to Jesus Himself.  And all of us have crumbled for the want of a break (or something equally dreamy) that we wouldn’t ask for or couldn’t get.  We know, live(d) and remember these things. But we don’t always talk about them.  Why?

Maybe we don’t want to be judged by the impossible standards floating around us. Maybe there isn’t enough truth circulating to generate the platform and permission we need to be honest.  So we don’t say that we’re not perfect, that there are days when our greatest accomplishment is… not leaving.  That unlovely truth might be all the help a struggling mom needs.  That alone should provoke us to be honest, to say: “Girl, I’ve been there but I’m still here.  Keep going.  Let me help you…”   But for some reason, a struggling mother doesn’t always provoke us that way.  Instead of supporting, we judge the ones who are barely holding it together in supermarkets and banks—letting everyone know how we and/or our child “could NEVER…”.

I wish every mom a great Mother’s Day, but this year, I’d like to celebrate moms like that beautifully brave lady I met in the bank with her newborn and toddler.  I see you—the ones who struggle, the ones who stay.  Your story isn’t easy or pretty.  But you’re here. You’ve never thrown a theme party; you’re still figuring out your kid’s hair.  But you stayed.  You’re living and loving them on fumes, but hoping for a break, so you stay.  Honey, we’re here, but we’ve been there.  And we’re telling you it gets better.  On behalf of your kids, thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!  I pray you get everything you need.  To stay.

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Mother’s Day?

This year, I find myself thinking about Mother’s Day and the hype surrounding it. Honestly, I think I’m kind of over it.  Maybe it’s a passing phase, but I keep thinking about the things no-one talks about…like how, after the gifts are opened, she’ll be the one to clean up the wrapping paper, the one to tidy up and discard the dead flowers, who laundered, ironed/folded the clothes everyone wore to take her out to eat.

But I’ve mostly been thinking about how Mother’s Day is so focused on the ladies who’ve had children.

I think it’s generally understood that bringing a child into the world doesn’t make someone a mom. I mean, we’ve heard the stories—women who’ve sold their little girls’ bodies to purchase an outfit, accepted money from a school-age daughter’s “boyfriend” to pay a bill, or who’ve just taken off without a backward glance. True, we don’t uphold and laud these examples, but we don’t talk much about them either.

And there’s another group who gets lost in the fray: those women who may not have physically had children, but who deserve just as much hype as those who have. More, in some cases. So, while I wish a great and stress-free Mother’s Day to everyone who has loved and cherished the children she bore…this year, I want to remember the ones who are easy to forget.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to you, the woman who waits (kind of) patiently for the right man, praying over the sound of your biological clock, refusing to settle for just any “sperm donor”. Though it means you often stand alone, you won’t compromise. You get it: the importance of the right support to raise your children. For that, I salute you, lady.

A Happy Mother’s Day to you—the lady who’s lost more babies to miscarriage than she cares to admit, you who have so much love and no baby to give it to. Yet.

Happy Mother’s Day to you, who’ve suffered the unspeakable loss of the child you bore, perhaps the child you raised. Your empty arms make you no less a mother. This year, I celebrate your love—because I know it will live forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to you: the educator, neighbor, babysitter, the lady who cares for and guides other people’s children. Thank you for being the one who watches over them, catching all those little unspoken things—except for that one glance when your back is turned, the one that says they wish yours was the womb that carried them.

And there are so many still unnamed, including the men who’ve stepped up to fill those empty spaces. So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, but especially to the ones who aren’t smiling this year, the ones who hurt.

As I celebrate you, I pray that your Mother’s Day will be an unforgettable celebration of YOUR love, of the lives you influence, the sacrifices you’ve made, the assured hope that your prayers will soon be answered. Until then, I send you Blessings and my prayers. Know that while you may not get pretty gifts or spa dates or huge bouquets, I am thinking of you, with love.

DreamFood

That Dream in your heart won’t survive on its own.  It needs to be nourished, fed on solid food—on the examples of real people who’ve done what you dream of doing.  Your Dream needs the meat of your hope, your put-your-foot-down-won’t-consider-the-alternative-hoping-against-hope that it will come to pass.  It needs the kind of oxygen that’s not available under the bed; the kind it can only get up there on the lamp stand.

That’s where you can share it with the “right” people, who’ll help you feed it, hold you accountable and fan its flames when you’re tired or forgetful.  Don’t worry too much about the “wrong” people—the unreceptive or hostile.  Your Dream is tougher than you might think.  It doesn’t need to be protected from them.

But it may need to be sheltered… from you—from the contamination of your doubts and fears, from the negativity they planted (but you’ve been watering), from that toxic “reality” you’re swallowing just because other people do.

So, maybe more than anything, your Dream needs to feed… you.  You weren’t meant to live without hope, without a desire to live deeper, to be better, to crave more.  There’s always more. So please don’t settle in that barren place and don’t you crumble at the first sign of resistance.

Don’t starve your Dream.  Feed It—if for no other reason than to let It feed you.

Firefly

Sometimes those who surround you don’t understand why you can’t do what they do, go where they go, be who they want you to be.  You’d like to show them, explain it, but – you don’t really understand either.  You just can’t fit and be yourself at the same time.  There’s something burning in you, something that just won’t allow you to conform in peace.

Something that won’t be hidden, no matter how hard you try.

Then, one day, you finally see it: you’ll always be different.  You’ll always stand out, because you’ve been chosen to carry this burning thing.  And, as you accept that it really has no communion with darkness, you also accept that you might get lonely for a minute.  But somehow, you know it’ll be okay.

Because a Light like yours is bound to surround you with the beautiful creatures who seek It.

When God moves the goal post

God asks you to do hard things sometimes, doesn’t He?

But there comes a point when you buckle down and wipe the fears away and just do it. Then, if you’re like me, you feel really proud of yourself. Kind of like you’ve arrived, really. Like, “YES! For sure, He’ll give me what I want now that I have accomplished this amazing thing, or accepted this difficult truth.”
But – as you’re eagerly anticipating the download of your miracle – suddenly, out of the blue, you get a message (or three) that there’s something else you need to work on. Something you didn’t even know was wrong with you. Something deep; nestled under layers and years of heavy masks. Something you know won’t be fixed by a prayer of repentance and a teary rendition of  Just As I Am.
And you crumble.
You crumble because it seems so unfair. It seems like you’ve been jumping through hoops forever. And it looks like the reward for all your jumping is that He keeps moving the goal post. So you kick and scream and cry and whine. Maybe for days. And then, in a quiet moment, you consider the alternative:
What if He didn’t deal with the mess – if He didn’t clean you up and let you mature some more? What if you got everything you asked for—and then ruined all of it because you weren’t ready?
Sure, a nice house and a shiny car would be great gifts. But not for everyone. My 11 year old would probably destroy himself now with those gifts. But the exact same gifts would be such ripe blessings for him fifteen years down the road.
You understand this, even if you don’t like it.  So with a deep sigh, you get up and get a hold of yourself, resigned to finally admit that He’s God for a reason.
Then, you wipe the tears away.
Because you need a really good look at that goal post.

2016

What I’ll take away from 2016: A reflection.

  1. Truth. This year brought me some hard lessons in what I should accept vs. what I must refuse; what I need vs. what I want; what matters—and what doesn’t. What I’ve been taught to accept as reality is not always the same as Truth.  Reality is a shape-shifter; it’s dependent on my frame of reference.  My experiences, knowledge and information determine my perception—how I’m able to see a thing—which affects how I’ll react to it.  “Reality” can be influenced by the voices that surround me, by who and what I let feed me.  But the Truth will never shift for my sake; It doesn’t care about my esteemed judgments, current facts or worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 3:19).  The Truth will always be stable; It will always be what God says, not what someone else would have me believe.
  1. Revelation. I re-discovered that my journey never ends. That’s tiring and exhilarating at the same time. It’s kind of like parenting—there are no vacation days, but participating in the raw process of growth and maturity seems like a fair enough trade.  That’s what I think this journey is: a fair trade.  Sure, there are hard days; some harder than others.  But we’ll constantly be discovering hidden strengths and veiled Truths, so we never really arrive.  Until we leave this place, we’ll always be journeying towards new Revelations, richer relationships, deeper understanding.  And while that can seem tiring, there’s an upshot: God always has fresh, new secrets to share with those who seek His Truth, with those who pursue His friendship (Psalm 25:14, John 15:15).  I think that’s more than a fair trade.
  1. Confrontation. Mostly with myself. Because Truth plus Revelation will always bring Confrontation. This year, I’ve been challenged to use what I’ve learned to confront what I’ve been taught, to tackle things outside of my comfort zone, to put to action what I say I believe.  Words are my lifeline, counted among my most valued possessions. But they are weakened—and cheapened—when my actions don’t support them or where there is a confrontation between faith, feelings and fear.  Under pressure, when I’m wronged or wrong, when I mess up and fall down, when the Dream seems distant and hope lies dormant, then what I really believe will be exposed by what I do.  But this year, I think I’ve found the secret: I just have to do it afraid.  Because for me, 2016’s toughest Truth and greatest Revelation is this: The true test of what I say lies in what I do; so until my faith informs my actions, there will always be Confrontation.

Here’s to a safe, healthy  rest of the year for you and those you love. Have a happy, productive, Truthful 2017!

Deliverer

You have something special.  It’s a gift, designed specifically for you—sealed with your fingerprint, coded with your voiceprint.  It can never be duplicated; it will never be done like YOU do it.

God gave it to you, and it’s all yours.

But…

There are people earmarked and waiting for that gift He put in you.  Don’t get sidetracked by the world’s obsession with numbers, though.  Maybe it’s a handful of people—or just one person.

And that one person could be you, my love.

What if your God-given gift is the solution you’ve been searching for?  What if your talent is the light you’ve been seeking to fill that one still-dark secret place?  What if—like Moses’ mother—you’ve been hiding your own deliverer?

Don’t ever stifle your gift.  Somewhere, someone’s waiting on the miracle hidden in those words only you can say, the song only you can sing, that line only you can write, that presence only you can deliver.

Your style, your sway, your charisma, your voice—they can never be reproduced. God only makes originals; He doesn’t deal in copies.  You know there will never be another you, and you don’t know how to be anyone else.

Your greatest strength will always lie in being authentically, genuinely you.

So, whatever God’s given to you—your trademark, that thing you were created to do—I pray you’ll do it with confidence, but…

Honey, you do it even if you’re afraid.  And keep doing it when it’s hard and scary and misunderstood.

Do it because someone’s waiting on a deliverer to bring his miracle, her blessing.

And that deliverer, my love, is you.

(Inspired by two of the many Warners who have captured my heart and filled it with awe and love: Che-Raina and Soyini.  You are beautiful, anointed, mighty young women who make me such a proud mama.  Keep leaving your mark on the world!  Love…Tee.)