"The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are. The second greatest is being happy with what you find." ` Anonymous
I was raised by an amazing, humble, selfless woman. A woman of grace, beauty and strength. My Mom, she's a giving woman, forgiving and generous. A modern day Ruth to be honest. What is a mondern a day Ruth you ask, well it's best said like this, "A "Ruth" is a woman who has experienced great loss and pain - yet has remained loyal and faithful no matter what. She has found her strength in God." ( A Modern Day Ruth) That's my mom, living through loss, pain and still finding strength and joy in her faith.
My Mom has always had a tender heart, and in that she's felt things deeper, with more emotion than many of us do. When she's hurt, her heart doesn't just break, it shatters. Growing up the only child of a woman who's heart had been broken long before I was born, it was painful through the years watching her feel rejection, loss and grief so intensely. Years after I was born I learned from my mom she'd spent years fearing never being able to have another child. She felt God would punish her for what she perceived as past sins. But that was nowhere near the truth. Hearing this years later I couldn't bear the idea of my mom feeling so much pain. The idea of a loving God rejecting the woman He graciously gave me to call Mama was unfathomable. As a little girl I saw my Mom as this amazing beautiful, gracious woman, a " Ruth" with a hint of sadness tucked away inside her heart. As the woman I've become I see her as she truly is "the perfect example of grace because she is a butterfly with bullet holes in her wings that never regretted learning to fly." (JM Storm) The truth is I've learned many things from my Mom through the years but her greatest lesson came as I entered my 40's. As a little girl she showed me how to love, to give, to be humble, to be honest, to be last and to inspire. Her heart, well it's as big, as wide and as deep as the ocean itself. Today, I can tell you the three greatest lessons my mom has ever taught me came as an adult: Forgive yourself, accept your past and make peace with yourself. For years my mom carried around this burden on her shoulders, a wound, an ache and an anguish as if she deserved it. I know many times she felt the suffering was hers alone to bear but the truth is, it wasn't. I knew it wasn't, my dad knew it wasn't but it took facing the regret after years of mulling over the pain for her to fully let go. Augustine Burroughs says it best, "The past does not haunt us. We haunt the past. We allow our minds to focus in that direction. We open memories and examine them. We re-experience emotions we felt during painful events we experienced because we are recalling them in as much detail as we can." The truth may have taken a little longer than any of us would have liked, but in facing her past, Mom found she wasn't ever defined by it.
You see my Mom allowed her understanding of the past to influence her present. For all those years even with a brave face to the world that warped sense of truth made her feel insignificant as if she was unlovable. My Mom saw herself through broken lenses and it jaded her vision. Because her past was blurry it seemed, though very untrue that her future was just as cloudy. But the truth is, as it is perfectly said in Isaiah 61:3, our God, her Father and mine, "He makes beauty out of ashes." Sadly events not that long ago tried to reinforce this failed theory of hers. By God's divine hand these efforts failed. The truth is rejection has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with a deficiency in the lives of others. The past is gone, it has no bearing on today unless we give it merit. Karen Salmansohn speaks brilliantly in her examination of this truth, " Don't let the darkness from your past block out the light of joy in your present. WHAT HAPPENED IS DONE. Stop giving time to things which no longer exist, when there is so much joy to be found here and now." And that is why Life Lesson #103 ~ Making peace with yourself is so important. Once we've discovered who we are underneath all the fear, worry, regret, rejection and guilt, happiness and joy are ours to claim from here to eternity.
1 John 4:4 says, Greater is He that is in me." This is my Mom's truth, as it is mine too. God is greater than anything this world can dare to conceive, destroy or manipulate. In allowing herself to be free from the pain and loss, to fully accept the courage the Lord had given her to make peace my Mom indeed became free of her past. Not to change it, or forget it. Not to attempt to edit or erase the hurt but to completely accept it as it is. In doing this my Mom became a modern day Ruth whose past and example is a testament of God's grace today. You see, by my Mom's example and her willingness to expose her deepest, darkest insecurities I've learned to make peace with my own past and to let go of the demons hounding my feet. In the last few years I have witnessed my mom's heart come full circle. She has finally allowed God to mend her broken heart and fill every empty space she kept hidden all those years. I've seen her not only grow but flourish as she's come to terms with her past. I've sat in awe watching my mom make peace with the fear and regret left behind all those decades ago. The hurt, the ghosts once paralyzing my mom have faded and bloomed into something beyond beautiful. Relationships thought unthinkable, have become reality. Life once thought of as impossible is now possible. And forgiveness has become the foundation for the once unattainable. My Mom after almost 50 years of self punishment is finally accepting she has no regret. There is absolutely no guilt in the life she was given, the path she has chosen and the life God carved out for her in His great wisdom and mercy. Fear, regret, hurt and rejection are long gone. None of those uncertainties hold any significance any longer. The dungeon key has been thrown away and those shackles completely broken. And in in their place is a life far from the ordinary full of possibility, happiness, joy, acceptance and endless unconditional love.
The Better Man Project says this, "Some stories go through long pauses like the space in between the notes.If it's in the stars our paths will collide again and how sweet the music will be." And if not remember " God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling." My Mom's life is a beautiful example of this, of restoration and triumph with a pause or two or three in-between. No, not everything turns out the way we want it to but as Garth Brooks famously sings in Unanswered Prayers," And just remember because He doesn't answer doesn't mean He doesn't care. Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. And then as she walked away, well I looked at my wife and then and there I thanked the good Lord for the gifts in my life."
I'm so proud of you Mom, You've not only discovered yourself but you have accepted the happiness you deserve. I love you Mama.. As we say here in the South, Forever and always, to the moon and back.