The Shoes That Fit

Theresa RoweBy Theresa Rowe8 Minutes

Some may consider Mother’s Day a minor holiday. In fact just not providing a day off from work assures its position on the lower tier of holiday cheer for some. While said somewhat in jest, others in their mind may legitimately relegate it to a lower status from poor family experiences or painful remembrances of childhood. Whatever your position on the subject, I am here to promote, elevate, and acknowledge mothers everywhere, whether they have had children or not.

My prayer is that you had a wonderful mother and were blessed with beautiful memories. Maybe you were raised by a God-fearing grandmother, aunt, sister, or friend, and they helped you be the person you are today. If so, you are more than blessed!

Maybe this holiday reminds you of hardship or trauma. Perhaps you were abused or abandoned and can barely speak of your mother. There could even be sickness, disability, or premature death that robbed you of your childhood and your mother. Instead of your mother, it could be you and you neglected your children or were an absentee parent because of something done in your youth. It is time to step out of those shoes; you have worn them far too long!

I had a pair of those shoes too. I put on the shoes as a fourteen-year-old sitting by my mother’s bed after school. Sitting there watching her slowly fade away, while not truly understanding cancer, or even life and death, precipitated my downward spiral. Actually, it may have begun after being abandoned by my biological mother, but either way, I had put on the shoes. I was also building a wall, a hedge of protection for my aching heart. It just wasn’t fair. I felt alone and my spirit was crushed. No mother to see me graduate high school or hold my hand the night before my wedding. No mother to encourage me when my baby was born. I was playing the part of a victim and every morning I started the day squeezing my feet into those horrible, pity party shoes.

Things changed when Christina was born. She stirred my spirit, and I slipped off my party shoes, pulled up my bootstraps, and got busy working and thinking about someone other than myself. Not that I had the foggiest idea about being a mother. I relied on the limited memory of my mother as my teaching tool. I also remembered the kindness of a neighborhood lady who had taken me to Vacation Bible School one summer. She had such a gentle and loving way with children, mentally and spiritually that had stuck like glue. There was also a teacher in high school who had shown compassion and love for me and other students. Even though she never married or had children, she carried the love of Jesus with her, and that more than made up for her lack of experience as a mother.

Finally, at age 26, I connected and really plugged into a small church family. The women taught me how to be a mother. They were not perfect, but they showed me the perfect love of Jesus and taught by example. Even the ladies without children reached out and demonstrated His love. They filled the void of my natural mother and encouraged me to be the person God had created me to be. They also emphasized teaching my children the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They never lectured about past mistakes, but encouraged with love for me and my children. They were living Mark 3:34-35. Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Surrendering our hearts to Jesus, and surrounding ourselves with His people, helps change the old in us to new. God placed certain women in my path, at critical times and changing seasons, for maturity and nurturing of my mothering skills. In simple obedience, these women helped break down the walls of my heart and showed me how to shop for the shoes that fit.

Someone told me that we should forgive ourselves because we are just works in progress. They also said we should be “working” works in progress. As Christians, we should be sharing, caring, loving, and forgiving to one another our entire lives. Of course that is a choice, but as Christians, and as we mature, the wisdom imparted on us is to be shared; not as a know-it-all but because of knowing the one who knows all. While not a perfect model parent, as verified and well documented by my children, I still understand the importance of praying for them daily. I now add grandchildren to my daily prayer list and cherish watching my children perfecting their parenting skills with their children.

Paul offers encouraging words in 2 Timothy 1:5 about generational blessings. “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.” God’s promises are being realized as I am now seeing a bountiful harvest from the prayer seeds sowed over the years in my children and grandchildren.

Isn’t it time to start blessing the next generation? Isn’t it time to forgive past mistakes? God wants to offer life brand new by breaking free from the bondage of generational curses. He is already blessing all of those beautiful women who have played a role in helping raise, nurture, inspire, encourage, love, train, teach, and pray for our children and grandchildren. May God continue to generously bless your work here on earth!