What Moms Today Can Learn From The Mother of Jesus, Part 5
- 2003 13 Jan
As mothers (and as a mother), I believe in "rights of passage" and I don't believe in living vicariously through our children.
Allow me to explain.
I believe that at some point children will grow old enough to attend school without their mothers shedding tears of sorrow. That, as a mother, you can get through an entire day without calling said school a half dozen times "just to make sure everything is okay."
I believe that at some point your sons and daughters have the right to choose what they will wear out of the house (within reason, of course) and how they will wear their hair. I believe the choice of post-high school education (whether to attend or not and if so, where) is also the decision of your children. And I believe that one day, every child must grow up and "leave the nest."
The problem arises when we, as mothers, have lived vicariously through our children, negating our own lives, forgetting there was ever a father in the equation of one plus one equals three, and in thinking we should keep them home for the rest of their lives. Many is the time I've heard my daughter (a mother herself) balk when I tell my granddaughter (her daughter), "One day, when you have your own little girl..."
"No, no, no," my daughter quickly says. She then directs her words to my granddaughter. "Boys have cooties. Stay away from them." She laughs, but I wonder if she remembers her own days of "flew the coop."
When our youngest daughter-now 21-announced that she had found a "really nice apartment" and was ready to move out, my initial reaction was one of rejoicing. Now, before you judge me, hear me out. This is, I said to my daughter, her "right of passage."
Even though I knew (and know) that my children would and will make a series of mistakes (most likely much like the ones their father and I made), these are the things necessary for growing up, for maturing, and for living out the purposes to which God placed us upon this earth.
As a note, when my daughter ACTUALLY moved out, I cried like a baby. "I thought you said this was my right of passage," she said. To which I replied, "It is. I just can't figure out where all the years went." However, her father and I are now empty nesters having the time of our lives, so it all evened out.
One afternoon, after the above-mentioned "home departure," my daughter called and announced that she was giving away all her clothes to the poor. Everything. She would keep just enough to keep her back warm, but everything else she felt called to take to the church and offer to those less privileged.
After I recovered from the near-aneurysm this piece of information gave me, I asked her, "Have you lost your ever-loving mind?"
Eventually she thought better of her decision, choosing a more logical way to serve those less fortunate, but the words that I had screamed were reflective of the words of my own mother when, at 18, I said I was moving across the state...when, at 35, I said I was moving to another state...when (never mind what age) I said I was going to New York City (on Sept. 10, 2001, no less)...and then when, having survived 9-11, I announced that I would be going to the Holy Land in the middle of its most recent conflict for 10 days as a journalist.
"Have you lost your mind?"
Lessons from Mary
We aren't the first mothers to ask this question and, if you've already had to say it a few thousand times, neither are you. And neither was Jesus' mother Mary. Or are you even aware she did? Remember the story that led Jesus to ask, "Who are my mother and brothers?" That's the one. Though we are quick to remember Jesus' reaction to their visit while He ministered and taught, I think we sometimes forget the reason for the trip.
The Scriptures gives us three versions of the story. Let's begin with Matthew. "While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him." -- Matthew 12:46
Jesus had just been in the middle of some fairly "hot" preaching and healing. He had even pronounced some curses along the way. ("Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!...and you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.- Matthew 11:21,23) He had just finished speaking of "the sign of Jonah" and evil spirits coming out of a man. (Matthew 12:38 ff) All of a sudden, "Jesus, your mother and brothers are outside and I believe they want to have a little chat with you...."
Luke's version of this story tells us that Mary and the brothers were outside because the crowds around her son/their brother were "pressing." A woman who-at one time-had every access to her young man now couldn't get to Him even to speak privately.
But why had they gone? Mark gives us the reason in Mark 3: 20, 21, which reads: "Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.' (Hebrew: Existemi, meaning: to be out of one's mind, besides one's self, insane.)
Ah! There are those words again! "Have you lost your ever-loving mind?"
We can imagine what the conversation was like between Jesus and His family members (once He went out to speak with them), but we can't know for sure. (Personally, I envision Him cupping her nearing middle-age face with His hand and whispering, "It will be okay, Eema. [Mom] This is why I came. This is my purpose.")
One thing is for certain: Jesus continued to do what He was called to do and Mary and His brothers went back home where we can imagine Mary spent hours in prayer for her son and His ministry, asking His Father to keep Him within His perfect order. (I do the same for my children daily! "Father, bind them to Your perfect order....")
Letting go is hard, isn't it, Mom? Even more so if you think that in doing so you are releasing your "little one" to His death, for this is surely how Mary must have felt. Mark 3:21 says that she wanted to "take charge of him." Like we will often do, she wanted to gather Him back to her bosom, no doubt, and keep Him from all measure of harm and evil. She wanted Him to be her little boy again, safe and sound within the walls of their family home.
But He could not be so. In order to fulfill His mission on this earth, He had to walk a dangerous road; a road that led to Calvary...and to our salvation.
Back to the personal story
I told you that my mother didn't want me to leave home and move across the state, yet this is where I met my wonderful husband.
She wasn't happy when I told her we were moving to another state, and yet it was after the move that my relationship with God deepened to a level I would have never dreamed possible and where my ministry would begin.
She didn't like the idea of my being in NYC and while I still don't know God's reasons on THAT one, I can rest in the knowledge that He certainly had them.
My trip to Israel will forever be one of the most profound turning points in my life and one I anxiously await repeating. (Please don't think I'm downing my mother. Her love for me is so intense she cries every time I leave her home to return to mine and she is and shall always be one of the strongest, godliest influences of my life!)
Moms, letting go means allowing God to do HIS work within the life of your child. And yes, even when it seems that he or she is making the "biggest mistake of his life," or has quite simply, "lost her mind."
In 1763, mothers in our young land "let go" of their sons so they might fight in the war that enabled us to gain our political freedom.
Over 1700 years earlier, another mother "let go" and eventually watched her son march off to Calvary, thereby allowing us an even greater liberty: spiritual freedom.
Another great lesson from Mary to add to the ones we've already learned:
Blessings often come in the surprise "packages" known as our children.
As a mother, you will often be misunderstood, not only by those you gave birth to, but those who interact with them.
As a mother, you won't always be able to see the "big picture" concerning your child's life, but you can rest assured God does.
As a mother, it's imperative to make Jesus Lord of your life so that your children will have a fine example to do the same within their lives.
As a mother, you will be required to "let go" of your little chicks, but in doing so you will release them to God's perfect order for their lives.
Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and the forthcoming Shadows of Light. She is an award-winning national speaker, and can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at Bridegroomsbride@aol.com or you can go to www.evamarieeverson.com
Other Articles in this series:
What Moms Today Can Learn From the Mother of Jesus, Part 4
Part 3: What Moms Today Can Learn From The Mother of Jesus
What Moms Today Can Learn From The Mother of Jesus, Part 2
What Moms Today Can Learn From The Mother of Jesus