“I never once heard my mother raise her voice.”
“The first time I ate a pizza that wasn’t homemade was in college.”
“Through the years, my mother never missed a day of reading her Bible.”
“We never had paper plates in our home. Mama always set the table with her prettiest dishes.”
“I never remember being left with a babysitter. We always knew our mother would never leave us without her.”
With each testimony like this my heart sinks lower and my hopelessness rises. Admirable? Of course. Amazing? Yes!
Inspiring? Um……no. It should be, perhaps. I desire to be the mother that never fails and always comes through. But when someone gives me a statement like this about their wonderful mother, I don’t see a goal to reach. There is nothing left to which to aspire. When it comes to motherhood and the words “always” and “never”, I have already failed on every count.
Consistency is a term thrown around quite a bit in Christian circles. Everyone wants a consistent person in leadership, at the head of the class, on the church staff and in the pew. Consistent is the keyword when describing an exemplary saint. Or so it would seem.
Maybe I’m wrong here, but in my lifetime I’ve seen mothers and leaders who were consistent. But sometimes consistent can mean consistently wrong. They drew a line which could not be crossed and staunchly stood on the correct side of it. They crafted their consistency into a box and checked it off daily. And they never changed.
While I strongly believe in values and convictions, consistent isn’t really the word I want etched on my tombstone. The irony is at one time it might have been, but the years have changed my perspective.
So, what do I want my children to say when I’m old and they’re raising their little ones? The word I want them to say with a smile that reaches down to their hearts?
Our pastor spoke about it last month in his Mother’s Day sermon. When all of us were smiling and wearing our corsages. When we were still reflecting on the breakfast in bed and the fistfuls of dandelions. When we could still feel the sticky kisses of a little boy who had tasted our chocolates to make sure they were good enough for us to eat.
He read it from Paul’s letter to Timothy. Paul reminisced about Timothy’s mother and grandmother. He didn’t use the words “always” or “never”. He just said that he remembered the genuine faith they possessed and passed on. Genuine faith. Nothing put on. No pretense. No boxes to check or lines to plant themselves behind. Just being real and authentic in their faith.
It’s been a month since Mother’s Day, and today you may wake up groggy because you’ve been up through the night with a fussy baby or a talkative teen. You feel the weight of another day upon you fueled by coffee and prayer on the go.
The pretty flowers you wore last month are wilted on the windowsill and your hope wilts a little, too. Can I really do this? How can I be the mama my children need when the always and never change places, and I feel like I always fail and never do it right?
My kids may see me pull out the paper plates now and then. But may they never see me pull a cloth over hidden sin and put on a china face while praising the Lord in the pew.
My kids may hear me rasp out an exasperated sigh when the gallon of milk spills or they’re fighting. Again. But may they hear the genuine sorrow in my voice as I spill out my heart and apologize for attitudes that didn’t align with my motives.
We may not get to every math lesson in the book, make every family night a magical memory or spend hours with pipe cleaners and tissue paper making Pinterest-worthy crafts. Yet, I want them to number our short years together knowing that Mama is crafting a life for them in which I always love Jesus and their daddy and them, and I never pretend to be what I am not.
Consistent? Only if I am consistently authentic.