There’s a Dennis The Menace cartoon where Dennis is telling his friend, Margaret:
“I wonder what Mom would like for Mother’s day?” Margaret said, “Why don’t you promise to go to bed when she tells you…why don’t you keep your room clean…eat all your vegetables…even brush your teeth when you go to bed…and wash behind your ears when you take a bath.” Dennis said, “Naw. I mean something practical.”
Every Mother's Day millions of moms receive the customary bouquet of flowers, card, and if they are really lucky - chocolate. It’s a very convenient way to express appreciation for all the sacrifices and love a mother gives. But with a little bit of thought and planning, Mother's Day can be just as practical, but even more special. If you’re like me and you truly appreciate all the love, sacrifices and hard work your mother and the mother of your children have made, you want to genuinely express it. Let me share an insight that author Michael Smalley suggests - try taking your mom’s personal preferences into consideration.
If she’s a “Take Charge Mom”, she’s going to like acts of service, a day off, or a gift that reflects thanks for what she accomplishes at home, work, or in the marriage. If she’s the “Party Mom”, the mom who’d rather see smeared paint from giggling faces than clean walls, then she would love a gift that is spontaneous and playful. Try giving her gift through a fun scavenger hunt where she has to discover the different aspects of her mother's day gift. If she’s the “Serving Mom” who rarely takes time for herself, give her a day at a spa or your best personal massage and pamper her. If she’s the “Details Mom”, the one who takes out the map to Disneyland and plans out the entire day of rides, shows, snacks and potty breaks, then you’ll want a gift that is well thought out. Try sitting down with her for a serious conversation about what would be special for her this Mother's Day. Then make a list of her responses and get after it with all the zeal she puts into every project in life!
But what about the really tough mom - the “Wicked Witch of the West Mom”? What if you didn’t have a good mother? The bible says in the 5th Commandment, Exodus Chapter 20:12 that we should “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” How can you possibly honor your mother if all you have is a dark closet of pain, a memory full of disappointments, and a heart of bitterness? Well, the key to the “honor” is to honor what was there from God and to let go of what wasn’t from God.
The Apostle Paul gives us a clear guide how to do this. Philippians 3: 13, 14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps the greatest Mother’s Day honor and present you can give this year is to leave the pain behind. Not that you will ever be able to truly forget what happened, but with the power of God’s Holy Spirit you can “press on” looking ahead and not be hindered by the past.
Now I’m not suggesting that it’s necessary to get back into a relationship with her - that takes wise, Christ-led counsel to determine. And just as I certainly wouldn’t advise wearing a Denver Broncos jersey to an Oakland Raiders game, I most certainly wouldn’t advise walking into an obvious abusive situation. Yet, here’s a suggestion on a process that can help you move past the pain and press on to honor what is worthy.
Take a sheet of paper and create three categories of perspective: your childhood, teen years and adult years. Inside of those categories make a list of your mom’s positive behaviors. Perhaps she worked a part-time job to provide for you, she went to your recital, or she cheered at your games. Make a list of the negative painful behaviors. Perhaps she yelled at you, she didn’t come to your rescue, or she never said she’s sorry. For some of you, you might not get past the hard fact that there was only one positive - she gave you life. But here’s the gift part: the positive things, that’s her gift to you. Of course you want to honor those but don’t let shame misguide you into thinking you have to honor what was not from God.
The negative behavior of your mom…that’s what Jesus died for. That’s God’s Mother’s Day gift to your mom. He doesn’t hold it against her anymore, so why should you? After all, our holding onto past pain means we’re the ones putting all the negative energy into it. That’s why bitterness can sometimes hurt us more emotionally, physically, and spiritually than the original pain.
For some of us, this is a hard process because the pain and wounds still hurt, but don’t miss the point. The process of letting go - for-give-ness: giving as it was before - is not the cure. The gift for you and your mom is in your living a life beyond a painful past. It’s the gift of not holding your mother responsible for additional pain in the present or future. It’s the gift of letting the pain in the past be just that - pain in the past.
So whether your mom was loving and nurturing, or painful and negligent, or whether you give her carnations and chocolates, or a new understanding and forgiveness, just remember none of us would be here without her. So “Thank you, God, for all our moms.” We’re honored you gave her to us.
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