For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103: 11-14
I sat in the living room, my eyes glued on the clock, with tears streaming down my face. My fifteen year old heart had been broken by a super cute boy named Joe. I had been stood-up for the first time. Joe had not called or shown up for our date. This happened during the seventies when cell phones and text messages had not been yet dreamed up.
“What are you crying about?” my mom said.
“Joe did not show up or call. He was supposed to be here at 7:00 and it is now way past 7:30!” I said, tears gushing.
“Pshhh! “ she smirked, “You think that is heartbreak—wait till you get older and find out what heartbreak really feels like.” She walked off to her bedroom.I did not get the tender and compassionate warmth that I should have received from my mom at such a tender moment. I had been feeling dejected and rejected, but my mother added to my grief by showing no sensitivity towards my sentiments.
An hour later my mom came into my room. “Someone’s here to see you.” she said.
Puffy-eyed from crying, I walked into the living room to see an apologetic Joe with blackened smudges all over his hands, face, and clothing. He lived in a nearby town. His car broke down on the way over for our date. It had taken him all that time to get it to work. We sat on the outside steps and chatted for about a half hour, then Joe told me he was beat and wanted to go home. We agreed on another date for the movie we were supposed to see. I was relieved to not have been stood-up.
Years later, I realized my mom was right. That heartbreak was merely a splinter compared to the massive cracks my heart has experienced since then. But I wish I would have had the tender memory of a nurturing and sympathetic mother’s comfort. My mom passed away almost two decades ago. She died rather young. Her childhood had been full of heartache. I have often wondered if my mother ever regretted the times she was harsh with me. There were plenty of them, and not many of the warm moments there should have been.
Unfortunately, I have also have had times when I have not been as compassionate or sympathetic to another person’s needs as I should have been. As the years have passed, a comment, or a gesture, or an attitude of impatience I have had towards someone else during their vulnerable time has replayed in my mind.
Most moms try to be super human. We believe we can be all things for our kids, and we go to any length to prove it. The fact is we cannot because we do not have the capacity of being super human. Neither motherhood or humanity comes with a red cape.
I can not count the times I betrayed my own good intentions as a mom raising three children. I tried to be the very best mommy ever. I wanted to be all to my children that I did not have growing up. I tripped over myself to keep promises I made to them, and set unrealistic goals for myself. My perceived super human ability came crashing down any time I fell short of my own self-imposed, impossible image.
I kept up most of this super human farce until a difficult divorce changed our world. Overwhelmed with my new role as a single mom, and many other grim and inconceivable realities I was left to handle alone, I was often exhausted and overextended while working multiple jobs to make up for child support that went unpaid. And boy was I grumpy. The reality of my financial situation hit me each month. Working twelve hour days still left a handful of bills unpaid. I snapped at my kids, and had a scarce amount of patience with them.
A little over a decade later, my imagined red cape long retired; I kick myself for the times I wish I would have listened more, shown more grace, snapped less, spoken more gently and lovingly.
Let us not judge one another when we see misbehaving children, when we have those frail, rough moments, when we fail good intentions, when we temporarily forget our high calling as Christ followers, when we ungracefully flounder at our responsibilities, when our passion loses its glimmer.
Let us give others the understanding we hope to get when we mess up. We already seem to do a great job of judging ourselves harshly, and beating ourselves up on our own.
Let us live one day at a time peacefully.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com.