This week marks 23 years since my mother took her own life. I have spent MORE than twice as long on this earth without her as I did with her. This morning I woke with a heavy heart. It is strange. I was nine years old when she died. I really don't have a lot of memories of her. You know how people say, "Your kids won't remember how clean the house was, but they WILL remember that you played with them?" Yeah, not so true. I remember a clean house. My mom struggled with mental illness for a long time I think. She was a perfectionist. Everyone knew that, they knew she drove herself nuts keeping a clean house, clean/well groomed girls, and did all of the mom and wife things to the extreme. Little did everyone know she REALLY was being driven nuts.
Sometimes it pains me to think that she was so tormented for so long and no one noticed. She was obviously hurting, trying to compensate and in turn losing herself. I really don't remember my mom as a joyful person, rather a stressed person. Sometimes I worry about being JUST like her. I try so hard to make the most of every moment and I want every moment to be picture perfect.
Growing up without her was tough. Every milestone seemed to sting with her absence. High School, College, dating, marriage, kids, loss...all of those stages in my life were laced with sadness that I did NOT have my mother to share any of those things with. I really thought things would improve over time.
Wrong again. Since becoming a mother myself, the loss of my own mom is so tough. As I sit up in the middle of the night rocking a crying baby, I often find myself crying, wishing I had my own mom to call for reinforcement. With every lost tooth, achievement and milestone her absence is felt. On the days when I feel like a complete failure and I am surely messing my kids up for good, and I just need to get out of the house to breathe, she isn't there.
Being a motherless mother has shaped my parenting it has made me realize that no matter how short I fall, my presence matters. I also have to admit though that with that comes a whole different fear. As I approach the age my mom was when she died I find myself fearing dying and leaving my kids motherless...it is honestly a fate I wouldn't wish on anyone.
That said, it is a fear I have been working hard to lay down before the Lord. I have to know that while I want my kids to have my love and support as they grow and experience life, I also have to know that in the grand scheme of things, His presence is what really matters. So while I grieve the loss of my own mom and pray to be a loving presence in the lives of my own kids, I pray even harder that my kids grow up to know HIM as their Heavenly Father. The parent who will never let them down, never leave them and never forsake them. He is the constant. All else is fleeting. I wish I had known Him as a child, but am eternally grateful that I do now. As I sit in the rocking chair crying and rocking my baby in the middle of the night, missing my mom, I am reminded that He is there. He is right there with us, He has blessed us and brought us to where we are. He is ALL we need.
The Bible tells us to love God above all else. Above our children, our mothers, fathers, wives and husbands. The Bible even goes so far as to tell us to hate our mothers, fathers, children etc. And while I don't think this is to be taken literally, since God commands us to LOVE one another, I think what Jesus is saying here is that in comparison to our love for Him, the love we have for our loved ones should look like hate. Our love for God should be SOOOOOOO far above all others that even our love for the ones we love most in this world should look like hate in comparison. That is a strong statement He is making.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26
As I think about what Jesus is telling us here and I examine my life, I cannot say that I have been living this way. I do miss my mother and my boys and it is excruciating. But losing Him would wreck me. It is BECAUSE of Him that I am able to keep on keepin' on. It is because of HIS love for me that I desire to share that love with others for as long as He would have me walk this earth.
So while I grieve the immense losses in my life, I am also reminded that I have much. I have much to be thankful for and much to PRAISE Him for. It is sad and heart breaking to lose the ones we love, but it is nothing short of TRAGIC that there are people out there that do not know the UNCONDITIONAL, unending love of their Savior. That breaks my heart. To know that there are people enduring hardship without hope, people who are suffering and struggling and trying to go at it alone. A love that is so freely given to EVERYONE no matter what they look like, what they have done or what they will do is found in Him and yet so many out there are lost. Today I will praise Him for who HE is and for his unending love and I will pray for those who have not yet found Him, and pray for him to use ME to be His hands and feet. To take the Gospel and share His GOOD news!
Being a motherless mother is tough...life is hard. Loss is painful, and He is holding us through it all. We have one parent who will NEVER leave us or let us down. For that my heart leaps for joy.