As I grow older, I appreciate my mother more and more – even down to the smallest details. Something as simple as understanding the sacrifice my mother made every time I begged her to take me anywhere when I was growing up. Now that I’m a “grown up” myself, I understand what it’s like to work hard for a tank of gas and how every dollar adds up – and quickly. There were plenty of times she said yes when I’m sure she should have said no. Knowing now what it takes to earn and keep a living, I can only imagine how difficult it was to be a single mother of two very knuckle-headed children. To this day, she still tells me yes when she should tell me no. The only difference is now that I’m older, I try my best not to ask. I try to work as hard as I can to take care of things myself; to be a big girl. Am I perfect? No. But as I grow older, as my respect for her grows stronger, so does my understanding of my own life and what I aspire to be like.
When my brother and I were younger, my mom had the wisdom to know that in order for her children to have a better future, she was going to have to make some changes. As a child, I didn’t understand that. The only thing I understood was that my family, and my heart, was utterly broken. One day a few years ago, we were discussing what happened and my mom shared with me that after she and my dad told us they were splitting up, I stormed off to my room and at just five years old, vowed at the top of my lungs, “I just don’t love anybody anymore!” Without realizing it, because I hadn’t remembered saying that, I kept that promise to myself for over twenty-five years. Those words took strong root inside of my heart and it hasn’t been until recently that God has been able to start digging up that deeply planted seed. My mom was brave enough to stand up to someone that although she loved, she knew could not be around her children. She knew that if they were, they were going to cause more harm than good. As a result, she nearly lost her life. My mother was willing to lay down her life for the future of mine and my brother’s. The more I think about that statement, the more I’m in awe of the strength and the love my mother had for us.
This instance in my life used to torture me. It instilled a fear so deep in me that to leave my mom for even five minutes shook me to my core. I was so terrified that if I left her, she was going to die – and even worse, I would be tormented with images of all the ways it could happen. I couldn’t let myself leave her – I let myself leave her when I was five years old to go outside and play… and she nearly died trying to protect me and my brother. I couldn’t let that happen to my mom again. If I was invited to sleep over at a friend’s house, I would tell them I had a stomach ache and had to go home. I had to get back to my mom; she might die without me there. I attempted a sleep-away camp once when I was younger. I cried every single day and every single night. My counselors didn’t understand it and I know I did nothing but annoy them because I didn’t even understand it! I cried my heart out because I was terrified that my mom might die without me there. And that dream I always had growing up to move to New York and pursue my love of tap dancing and dance rehabilitation? I choked. The idea of leaving my mom paralyzed me. She might die without me there. If we’re being absolutely honest and transparent here, there are some days I still get scared – all because of one (major) incident that happened when I was just five years old. She never asked me to stay home, she never asked me to stay close for college or live with her until I’m 73. She never wanted that for me. That’s not the future she envisioned when she fought for it. She never knew I had that fear. I didn’t even understand that I had that fear.
I just knew I couldn’t leave my mom. It wasn’t until the past year or two that I began to realize the link between the fear of leaving my mom growing up and what happened when I left her to go outside when I was five. I used to think if I could just go back in time, maybe there would be a chance for me to change what happened. Maybe I could protect her in some way from what happened and the months of recovery and pain that followed could just somehow slip away, could just simply never have existed in the first place. What could I have done at five years old? Nothing. But when we don’t understand our heart break, we will always keep questioning what we could have done in situations that are so completely out of our control. It isn’t until we understand the truth of the situation that we can be set free. We have to lean into the sting (as one of my dearest friends once said) of our heartache to understand the root of it. Once that seed is exposed by the truth, God can then uproot it and we can be healed. I am living, breathing proof of that.
My mother survived. My mother pushed through everything because she knew that she had to raise me and my brother. She knew that if she wasn’t around, there would be no one to look after her children. Every single move my mother made was for the future of my brother and me. Every breath she took was so my brother and I could have a good life, a good future. I see that now. I understand that now and every day, I grow to understand it even more. And my mother didn’t fight so hard for me to sit around, paralyzed with this fear and this idea that I can add even one second on to her life. I can’t. But I can fight for my future, just like she did. I can fight to make it better. I have to fight for my health. I have to fight for my career. I have to fight for a good, successful future, because my mom fought for me. God saved her life so that I could see what it means to fight, to push past every obstacle that seems to be in the way, and come out stronger.
My mom is everything that I aspire to be. She is strong. She is brave. Although there may be times where she’s afraid, as I could only imagine that she was when she stepped into our childhood family home that day, she could only think about one thing; the future and what’s to come. She’s taught me, perhaps without her even realizing it, that although something may hurt right now, the most important thing to remember is why you’re fighting and let that keep pushing you. And when things seem hard, when things aren’t turning out the way you thought they would, trust. Trust God. Trust that there is a plan at hand; that all things happen for a reason. And don’t let it stop you. You can’t let your fears paralyze your future. Because if you do, you’ve stopped living. She is my biggest inspiration. She’s my best friend. She’s my mother.
All day long, I’ve heard the phrase, “pearl of great price,” repeated over and over in my spirit. Thinking about everything she’s been through and what she did for my brother and me reminds me that we are ALL pearls of great price. We have purpose here, no matter what walk of life we come from. The enemy will try to stop it but we have to fight, we have to push forward, no matter what the cost. In Matthew 13, there’s a scripture that says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” I believe on this Mother’s Day, God wants to remind us that we are that pearl of great price. Why? Because WE are His Kingdom. And He gave everything to purchase us. He laid down His life so that we might find ours… because we are His pearls of great price. We cannot let ourselves be trapped into thinking that we are anything less.
Thinking about how my mom nearly gave her life so that my brother and I could have life and life more abundantly takes my breath away… It brings me to tears every time. I no longer cry over the heartbreak of it all; I cry because of the love expressed that day. You see, we are her pearls of great price. My mother loves me and my brother more than words could ever say and for the first time in over twenty five years, I let that love touch my heart. Why? Because for as much as my mom loves me, it doesn’t hold a flicker to the love that burns inside of God for me. But not just for me – for you. You are His pearl of great price. And He would do it all again if it meant that He could have you. That’s amazing. That’s love. Selah; “now pause and calmly think of that.”