When I write posts on Facebook or on this blog, I’ve noticed that when talking about spouses, children, or others, I keep using the phrase “Love them well”. As I was thinking about what that even means, I thought about my mom. Then I thought about Pastor Michael’s sermon today on the Proverbs 31 Woman. I believe that we must know God’s love for us to truly know how to love others well. I believe that as we grow closer to God, we become more capable of loving others well…more like God intends for us to.
I realized something yesterday that made me quite sad. Those who know me know that my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer at only sixty-three years old…almost eighteen years ago. I’ve talked a lot, and written about what a godly woman she was. A prayer warrior. Someone who didn’t have an enemy, and how all who knew her loved her. She was the one who always made me see the lighter side of things and made me laugh when I was taking life too seriously. She definitely loved well. She always loved me well…even when I was unloving.
Though she always took my sister and I to church, and I made a profession of faith and was baptized at eight years of age, I became a bit of a rebellious teenager. Oh I appreciated the sacrifices she made for me, and we got along fine, but I wanted to live my own life without her disapproval and “nagging”. I moved out after high school graduation and married my high school sweetheart a few months later. After a year of marriage I suffered a devastating miscarriage. Two years later was the birth of our first son (and in two more years our second son). Everything changed (for me). I saw my mother with new eyes…and a new heart. I began to truly appreciate all the sacrifices she made for my sister and I. Suddenly I understood why she did the things she did. God allowed me to “see” her heart and I was devastated at how I had hurt her…though she never complained, and never (ever!) seemed angry at me. The closer I grew to the Lord, the more I was able to honor her and love her well.
I say all that for this revelation: Though Mom had always loved me well, from the time I truly started to love her well, to the time she passed away…was only about fifteen years. My heart breaks at all the years wasted.
But there is God…who is full of grace and mercy.
When I look back, it seems like we packed a lifetime into those fifteen years. God does that. When we do life His way, when we honor Him by putting others ahead of ourselves and stop living selfishly, just as He did for the Israelites He will restore for us what the locusts have eaten. Without going into a whole lesson on Joel 2: 25-27, I’ll share this. I found it so encouraging.
The damage to their crops from one invasion of locusts had a multi-year impact. The previous year’s seed was destroyed as well as the harvest and the next year’s seed. All gone. It would take years to redevelop. The restoring (from God) of what the locusts had eaten would be in abundance! Because of rebellion and selfishness lost years can damage relationships and cause pain, guilt and regret, and more. Friend, when we follow Him, he can take away the guilt and shame and restore (bring back, repair, renovate) all that was lost. I truly believe that is what He so graciously and mercifully did for me with my mom. That’s why it seems we lived a lifetime in those fifteen years. They were undeniably years of abundance which I will be forever grateful for.
Back to that Proverbs 31 woman. Mom, I believe truly lived that example out in front of us daily. Without being preachy, Mom had a way of pouring life into those around her. She at times dealt with things most people had no idea of, yet she remained faithful to God, and to her family. Even when she was going through trials she would still encourage those around her. She could be exhausted, yet she would still help and do for others. Whether at her job or at home, she worked hard and shared what she had with her family and anyone who was in need. She absolutely was clothed in strength and dignity, and full of grace. I learned how to pray by watching and listening to her. At times, she would pray for hours. When she suffered from insomnia, no matter how tired she was, she always said it wasn’t time wasted because she would pray and pray some more!
The Proverbs 31 woman was full of devotion…to God first and foremost. As Pastor Michael said today, when a woman walks in fear and reverence to God, all these virtues will pour out of her! They did pour out of my mom. Yes, I still miss her terribly. But I will always be thankful that God allowed HER to be my mom. I will always be thankful for her example, her love and encouragement, her selfless, giving heart, her prayers for me and my family. And though some lessons have taken me years to learn, I am grateful for her teaching me by her example how to live and to love well.
Thank you Mom.