Mothers are funny. I can say this because I am one! We all have stories we can tell about our mothers. About that one time when they were too strict, embarrassed us, overprotected us, or made us infuriatingly angry. Or maybe about that one time they went out of their way to make us feel special, brightened our spirits, encouraged us to keep going, helped us study and pass a test, fixed a costume or uniform, brought lunch when we forgot it, or helped us figure out how to change a diaper. No matter what thoughts on mothers you may have, we all must admit: there is no other relationship on this earth that compares to the one we have with our mothers—good or bad.
Motherhood can be absolutely beautiful, rewarding, and life-giving. It can also be painful, hurtful, and devastating. Maybe your mom’s no longer with you. You’re trying your best, but you wish you could reach out and call her for advice. Maybe your mom left when you were young and you yearn for a relationship you never had. Maybe you have a mom, but your relationship is strained and years of hurtful words and actions keep you far from each other.
Whatever the case, motherhood matters and can be a blessing, even in the hardest of situations. That’s why God asks us to honor our mothers in Scripture (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16). There are hundreds of verses and stories about mothers in the Bible, too many to name. In fact, “honor your mother” is part of one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. That’s right! It made God’s “Top Ten” list. He later uses words like “revere” and “listen” when describing how we should treat our moms, so we know this relationship is important to God. If mothers are that important to God, they should be important to us as well.
Several years ago, I heard a great message in church about finding a mentor. I felt compelled to get in on this idea. I needed to find someone to guide me, give me advice, pray with me, and help me through all the tough decisions I faced. Someone older and wiser. Someone who had been where I was going. I signed up with the church office and eagerly waited for the candidates to flood in. I couldn’t wait for the coffee dates I was getting ready to have, carefully interviewing each possibility, weighing if we would be a good fit for each other.
As I waited, I decided to pray about it. This was a big step for me, and I didn’t want to mess it up. As I prayed, I felt a small, quiet suggestion forming in the back of my mind. What about your mom? “Oh my gosh, God!” I said out loud. “Yes! Why didn’t I think of that?” What followed this epiphany moment has been one of the sweetest seasons I can remember with my mom. I must admit, I have a pretty great mom. I’m one of the fortunate ones, I know. What I would discover over the next few years, though, was that my mom also needed me. She needed my gentle input and prayers just as much as I needed hers.
You see, we have this idea growing up that our parents have it all figured out. Sure, we have our moments when we think they are idiots; but for the most part, we observe them managing houses, families, businesses, children — they seem to be able to handle all the complexities of life with flying colors. We truly don’t appreciate their accomplishments until we get out in the world and realize how hard it is. We start to see them differently, don’t we? When I asked my mom to be my mentor, she was moved to tears. She was so honored! I had no idea that it would mean as much as it did, but she was truly taken aback and excited to see what this new adventure would hold. We haven’t stopped, and we don’t plan on stopping. It has been the biggest blessing to both of us!
You may not have a story like mine. You may be asking yourself how you could ever get to that place or even want to get to that place. No matter what your relationship is like with your mother, I believe it can be better—even if it’s just a new depth of letting go and forgiving her past mistakes. As a mom of teenagers, I can now see a window into my mom’s world. I can see how hard it must have become when she was trying to influence us as young adults. I can appreciate now what I couldn’t appreciate then.
How about you? Is there something you’ve left unsaid or done that you need to muster the courage for? If your mom is gone and you have children of your own, is there something you’ve been meaning to do or say that would deepen or strengthen your relationship with your own children? Maybe you don’t have the chance to do or say what you should have, and you never will. Ask God to forgive you for your stubbornness and move on. Be the parent you never had, or step into a mentoring role in someone else’s life. Make a difference! It’s never too late. Maybe these suggestions sound a little like something your mother would say. Well, we all need a little mothering every once in a while, don’t we?
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lᴏʀᴅ your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV