I’ve asked my colleague Cynthia Yanof to write this week, while I am in Israel, on the topic of Mother’s Day from a different perspective. I know you will be challenged and blessed by her thoughts. Happy Mother’s Day to those called Mom, Grandma, as well as those who do the hard and rewarding work of mothering children not your own.
My favorite movie is The Blind Side. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time. Basically, the movie is based on the true story of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a socialite in Memphis, who takes a homeless black teen (Michael Oher) into her home. Eventually she and her husband become his legal guardians, transforming both his life and their entire family. Michael Oher, with the support from his new family, obtains a high school and college degree, and maximizes his football potential by not only playing in college, but also professional football.
As an aside, Leigh Anne Tuohy and I are good friends. And by good friends, I mean that I met her at a book signing last Saturday in Dallas, and it was pretty clear we bonded. She may not know my name, and I was only one in a long line of people waiting to meet her—but I choose to think she’s forever changed by our 30-second encounter and somewhere right now she’s writing a blog about me, as I am about her. I even have a picture of her with my daughter, so that documents our deep connection. Or maybe not.
Either way, I somehow relate to this bossy white mom and want to be brave like her in ways that impact lives outside of those who live within the walls of my safe, suburban house. Apparently the movie resonated with many of us, as it brought in over 300 million at the box office. Although I realize the Hollywood depiction of her story may depart somewhat from reality, I still think my very favorite quote is where someone says to Leigh Anne Tuohy’s character (played by Sandra Bullock), “You’re changing that boy’s life,” to which she replies, “No, he’s changing mine.”
The world is about to celebrate moms this weekend on Mother’s Day. Society loves to discuss what makes a good mother, her responsibilities, shortcomings, monetary value, sphere of influence, and everything else. Raising three kids in my home can be really overwhelming if I think too much about the expectations put on me as a mom, and the likelihood that, without the Lord’s provision, I may scar these people for life. Yes, our kids need strong, loving parents who point them to Jesus, and the value of a Mom’s influence cannot be underestimated. But if your kids are anything like mine, we’ve already positioned them to receive every opportunity in life: they have their own room, their own bed, clothes, plenty of food, friends, a good education, maybe even a cell phone, college fund, and car. In other words, they need virtually nothing—especially when compared to the life afforded to many children around the globe.
So as we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s take a minute to consider some different paths we can take as moms in today’s culture. One path is to be thankful for the Lord’s provision for our family, but still find ourselves wanting more: more friends for our kids, more opportunities, more vacations, more fun. Or another option is to continuously thank the Lord for his great provision, but spend our days consumed with worry over what may be around the corner and how that may impact our families (I have a patent on this one).
But maybe as we get ready to celebrate Mother’s Day we should consider a better way, one requiring us to expand our traditional thinking on what we are called to as moms. What if we made the decision to live a lifestyle where every day we seek ways in which we can share God’s “wealth” with others in our circle of influence? In other words, find where the Lord would call us to be a “mom” to those beyond the ones that share our DNA. Because somewhere around you I bet there’s a child whose mom has cancer or whose dad is an alcoholic, whose parents are in a struggling or failed marriage. Maybe it’s that kid who is ALWAYS at your house, or a classmate your children tend to avoid because he or she is “weird.” What about the kid in the apartments close by who doesn’t have school supplies, or a ride to the football game? What about the clerk who helps you every day at the store and struggles to get by, or the one who’s homeless on the corner?
I don’t know exactly the faces that come to mind for you, but I know everyday we pass up real people, with real needs that we can meet. For my family, that “face” came to us fifteen months ago in the form of a foster baby. For years my family found the statistics of children in foster care in Texas to be overwhelming (up to 31,000 children at any given time). Hearing the stories of the broken CPS system and the children sleeping in CPS offices was heartbreaking. We had lots of unanswered questions when we knew the Lord wanted us to act and we considered our role in foster care. Questions like, how would this affect our children? How will we have time? What if we get too attached? What if the child doesn’t fit in our family? Can’t we just give money somewhere, go on a mission trip, or do something with a little less time and emotional commitment? Lots of valid questions, with really no concrete answers. But after stalling as long as we could, the Lord was clear with us: “I’ve been faithful and good to you and your family, and you can trust me. Stop asking and start doing.” And fifteen months later, we would have it no other way. We are changed people.
My family, like most of yours, is wealthy financially (in light of the rest of the world), spiritually, and socially. Whether you’re a mom or not, whether your children are babies or sixty years old, we are called to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the hurting people we encounter every single day. These people desperately need the hope of Jesus, but often this only comes when we start by meeting their physical needs. So stop and think about the kids in your life that need you to be a spiritual mom to them, the lower income families in your school who need food in their pantry, or really any person that society has marginalized that needs you to be an advocate. It’s not difficult, it’s just a matter of being intentional about seeing the needs the Lord puts in front of you—and making it your mission to meet them. And in a strange paradox (and certainly not why we do it), when we do this God blesses us. In their book, In a Heartbeat, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy say,
Jesus can meet the needs around us with or without our help—but, oh, the blessing we will miss if we listen to the excuses in our head and don’t act. As we approach Mother’s Day, join me in asking the Lord where he would have us stop our routine, say no to the busyness, and be a Blind Side kind of mom who truly invests in those around us. And as much as I love a good opportunity to procrastinate, there’s really no perfect time to start, class to take, or preparation to make before getting started. The needs are there; we just have to slow down and, as the Tuohy family suggests, “see” them.
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17–18
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: Share one of your mother’s favorite sayings.