I am learning.
I am striving.
To be more like Him.
I am desperate to be more like Him. The alternative? Be more like my mother.
I was asked to share a story or two about her on Mother's day many years ago. The request caught me off guard and left me speechless. It wasn't the 300 member congregation that deterred me. It was that fact that I couldn't think of a SINGLE good thing to say. Nothing honoring to utter. We had good times and I certainly had good memories but for many years all I could feel and focus on were the negative, harsh, and hurtful things. So I did what I always do when I have something heavy to work through: I sat down with a trusty pen and blank sheet of paper. I was determined to write something positive.
I sat for a while thinking about the things I hated. I was angry and determined to not be like her. And I realized: The things I didn't learn FROM her, I learned BECAUSE of her.
There were plenty of things I learned by her good example. From her I learned to problem-solve, organize, and manage an office. From her I learned to sing and worship and play the guitar. From her I learned to be hospitable and to serve. These are things she was and the things she did. If you knew her you probably just nodded as you read the list. She was good at them.
But the woman who had cancer for half my life wasn't always so pleasant, full of song or service. And so because of her I am learning to be self-controlled and slow to anger. Because of her I am learning to be kind to my family. Because of her I am learning to love unconditionally. These are the things she was not and did not. And I pray that I can honor her in this learning too.
Next Monday marks the anniversary of life without her. 17 years without my mom. And next year will be a significant equinox in my life. 18 years with her, 18 years without.
I'm thankful for both eras of my life. Lord knows I needed a momma. But my journal entry on January 1, 1993 was about what I wanted out of that year. I was heartfelt and sincere when I wrote "I want to be more like God and less like my mother." I had no idea that just 9 months later He would remove her from my life.
"In the year [my mother] died, I saw the Lord." Isaiah 6:1
I pray for my own daughter. That she'll learn FROM me and BECAUSE of me. I'm not so naive to think that just because I'm "better than my mother" that I'm any better than my mother. I am still learning, still trying to become more like Jesus, and still stumbling. Just like she did. And I pray that my daughter will one day "see the Lord" and find herself writing about all the things she didn't learn from me with her own trusty pen and blank sheet of paper.