Last night I had the most vivid memory. I was walking into church on Mother's Day morning 18 years ago. I was due in just a few months, my stomach entering the church before the rest of me did. The usher at the door offered me a flower, just like he had all the other moms. "Oh," I said, embarrassed. "I'm not a mom... yet." He thrust the flower into my hand anyway, gestured at my stomach and smiled. I whispered a thank you, slunk into my seat and looked at the floor. I was 21 years old and out of my league.
On Saturday I sat in the audience while the women of the church I was speaking at honored a mom in their midst. They had chosen their pastor's mom, who I had met moments before the event as we all prayed. She was an amazing prayer warrior and I loved hearing her pray. I had no idea she was the pastor's mother, or that she was being honored that day.
One by one her 3 daughters, her daughter in law, and her son (via video) extolled the seeds of influence she had planted in their lives. Their words offered me hope as a mom. Her daughters talked about how she required them to live differently than the culture, making choices that were difficult, yet now that they are adults they understand and are even grateful for. As a mom of teens, this was so important for me to hear. One by one they each thanked her for being a mom who opened her home to others, loved them fiercely, made sacrifices willingly, and never backed down from what she knew was right. I have never seen a more beautiful picture of children rising up and calling their mother blessed.
Afterwards I told her what an inspiration she had been for me, just hearing what I heard. I told her how hard it was to hold my children to a different standard than the world's, and how much I worried that they would remember only the bad stuff and none of the good. She laughed. "Oh I worried about the same thing! I am surprised by all the good things they remember!"
Sometimes I still feel like that scared 21 year old girl, not able to take that flower that honors me as a mother. "I'm just not good enough," I say. I fail in countless ways, pray often for God to fill in my gaps, and doubt most everything I do. And yet I see God, just like that usher, smiling at me and thrusting that flower into my hand anyway. He gestures at my children this time, proof that I am a mother-- not because I have earned it somehow, but because He entrusted me with them, plain and simple. Even when I don't feel like it, even when I doubt. I take the flower anyway.
And whisper a thank you.