Everyone has a mother. And yes, in some cases it turns out to be a mother surrogate. That’s someone like an adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother or a grandmother who takes on the mother role. Maybe it’s an aunt or even an older sister. Most people have strong feelings—both positive and negative—about their “mothers.” One of the Ten Commandments (number five) reads, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” That desire to honor one’s mother was some of the thinking behind the establishment of Mother’s Day (May 12 this year).
For you to honor your mother doesn’t mean that on a scale of one to ten, she had to be a “ten.” The truth be known, if all moms were to receive a fair score somewhere on the one-to-ten scale, according to bell curves, there would be a whole lot of fives and sixes, and not all that many nines and tens, or ones and twos for that matter.
A truth probably all of us would agree on is that being a mother is a tough assignment. And it’s a job for which most women didn’t get a lot of advance training.
So my guess is that most mothers feel inadequate when the Mother’s Day sermon is an exposition about the “woman of noble character” in the final chapter of Proverbs, whose children “rise up and call her blessed.” In defense of the preaching clergy, there really aren’t all that many biblical passages on the topic from which to choose.
Agreeing that mothering involves a lot of hard work, what if we were to eliminate the one-to-ten-scale approach and just ask whether your given mom was consistently adequate? I like that phrase. It’s not original with me, but it’s how I would like to be judged as a father. Not “Was I a three or a six or a nine?” but “Was I consistently adequate?”
Given the additional fact that, if we are honest, not every son or daughter is a “ten,” why not this Mother’s Day 2019 use this alternative standard I’m suggesting?
“How do I know what ‘consistently adequate’ means?” you might ask.
Well, I’ll inform you. Okay? I’m going to ask some simple questions. Once you answer seven of them “yes,” I believe it’s safe to assume that your mother figure was consistently adequate. Got it?
Keep track of your “yes” answers, and when you get to seven you can stop counting. It’s that simple. Or you can keep going. Your mom may be more consistently adequate than you think.
- Did your “mom” see to it that you had good food on the table, and every so often, was it food you actually liked? Yes or no?
- Did your mom ever help you with a homework assignment?
- Did your mom ever go out with you to a school play, or a band concert, or a sports event in which you participated?
- Did your mom see to it that you had clean clothes—even after you were old enough to do your own laundry?
- Did your mom ever tell you Bible stories?
- Did your mom ever take care of you when you were sick?
- Did your mom ever give you a birthday party?
- Did your mom ever let you have friends stay at your place for a sleepover?
- Did your mom ever pray with you?
- Did your mom ever listen patiently as you debriefed your day?
- Did your mom ever bring you something you forgot?
- Did your mom ever read books to you?
- Did your mom ever sacrifice for you in some way? Maybe work a second job so she could get you that something you really, really wanted?
- Did your mom see to it that you went to church?
- Did your mom ever rub your back?
Well, I’ll stop. But if your mom passed on seven of these, my assumption is that your mom or mother substitute was consistently adequate. And that’s saying a lot.
Again, mothering wasn’t all that easy for her. But if she was consistently adequate, I believe sons and daughters should downplay the negatives and speak often about the positives. Your mom deserves to be thought of that way—consistently adequate—and probably a whole lot more.
What if mom fails in the consistently adequate test?—in God’s loving economy, there are often women He provides to be those loving surrogates—even when we grow into our adult years. I’d begin praying for help to find one of those amazing human gifts.
Then my thought reduced to a sentence is: Anyone with a mother who was consistently adequate should concentrate on that blessing and not talk all that much about whatever shortcomings might have characterized her. This could be an excellent Mother’s Day gift.
Do you agree?
Through repetition, let me underscore that suggestion, because I believe it is important. Anyone with a mother who was consistently adequate should concentrate on that incredible blessing, and not talk all that much about whatever flaws she might or might not have had.
Here’s that verse from Exodus 20 once again.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Read about Gospel for Asia’s new way to honor your mother this Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019.