When I was in my
20s and 30s I found shopping for a mother’s day card to be a
frustrating experience. The cards would say things like, “thank you
for being the one who always believed in my dreams even when nobody
else did.” That didn’t fit her. She wasn’t that kind of mother, even
though I desperately wished she was.
practical. Practical to a fault, I thought. Hers wasn’t a world of
dreams and ambitions. Her world revolved around daily doing what
needed to be done. And she did so through faithful, dependable service
to those close to home, as well as to some who will remain total
strangers, perhaps until they meet in Heaven.
It’s not that
she spoke disparagingly of ambitions—it was more that she would always
turn the subject to what she saw as worthwhile pursuits. For
example, rather than sympathizing when I lamented a dead-end job, she
would point out that that job was my opportunity to serve my wife and
children, boss and customers, with Christ-like, sacrificial love.
Over the years,
my perception of my mother and her view of life has gradually changed.
What I once found frustrating, I now find comforting. Dreams
disappoint; ambitions crumble. More than midway through life, we can
find ourselves irreconcilably separated from the accomplishments we
thought we were destined to fulfill.
compassionate service is an investment that will never disappoint.
Proverbs says, “he who gives to the poor, lends to the Lord.” Mama
showed us, by example, how to store up treasures in Heaven where
“neither rust, nor moth” nor even our own miscalculations, can
Years ago, when
we lived in California, my mother met an elderly lady. She was well
into her 80’s, but she introduced herself like this: “Hi, I’m Mrs. C.,
I take care of old people!” Mama was really tickled by that and often
mentioned this dear saint. I think Mama wanted to emulate her, serving
rather than being served, even in advanced age.
setbacks that increasingly took away her abilities to interact with
others must have been heartbreaking to Mama and among the toughest
challenges of her lifetime. Yet even these she handled with
perseverance, patience, and grace. She, of course, did not want to be
a burden to anyone. But what we were able to do for her was not a
burden at all, but a privilege. And it came nowhere close to repaying
a lifetime of kindness, generosity and selfless love.