Over the past ten years I’ve learned more from my Mom than over the previous two decades! Who’da thunk it? You see, Mom had a stroke in May 1998. She has been severely handicapped since then. Yet she continues to enjoy life and be a blessing to those around her. (Read Saturday’s blog, “The ‘Good Humor’ Lady.”)

Admittedly, there have been times over the past decade when darkness has overwhelmed her and she’s asked me why God allowed this to happen and why God doesn’t just let her die. At first I had only vague, theoretical answers. Now I can point to real, verifiable answers.

The theoretical is not to be scoffed at. Good doctrine is important and should provide the brick and mortar structure that experience decorates. But like the saying goes, a person with a theoretical argument (even a good “theological” one) doesn’t stand a chance against a person with a real personal experience.

My doctrine teaches me that until God takes us home, He has a purpose for our lives. We haven’t accomplished all the good things He has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Some might look at my Mom – unable to get herself out of bed, requiring total care, even unable to feed herself- and wonder what purpose can God possibly have for her now? What can she possible accomplish? What value can she have in our world today? My doctrine also teaches me that God promises to use all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and that He chooses (yes, consciously, intentionally chooses!) the weak things to confound the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).

My experience validates that God has used and is using Mom’s horrible situation to touch many around her and to teach me much about life. As a tribute to both my God and my Mom, let me share with you some of what I’m learning.

I’m learning to bless (and honor) my mom. Mom calls me on the phone, sometimes several times a day, usually with nothing but “foolishness” to talk about. She’ll often share the “joke of the day” with me – but she almost always messes up the punchline. I usually don’t even get the joke (or see any humor in it if I do get it), but she laughs and laughs because she knows the joke and probably doesn’t realize that she left a few words out of the punchline. So I bless her by laughing with her, because to explain a joke is to lose its effectiveness but to laugh together is a good thing. That I don’t understand her sense of humor is pretty irrelevant. We’re having fun together – she by laughing at the joke, me by enjoying my mom’s craziness. Sometimes my husband Phil will tell her he doesn’t get the joke. She’ll pause for a second and then say she doesn’t get it either and they both laugh! (I feel compelled to point out here that Mom’s stroke did not affect her mental capacities. She’s just having fun with life, whether she gets the joke or not.)

I’m learning patience. When she calls me on the phone for the nth-time-today to talk about nothing but “foolishness,” I’ve learned to turn away from my work, shout into the phone so she can hear me and relax while she tells me of her latest activity at the nursing home. Sometimes I feel myself get anxious because it’s the middle of the workday and I have deadlines to meet. Yet I am learning to turn away from that anxiety and toward someone I love to hear about things that matter to her.

I’m learning compassion. It’s either that or turn my heart off as I visit the nursing home each week. Visiting the nursing home costs me much emotionally, but at every visit I am impressed by the significant need for the simple gift of holding a hand, praying with someone or just sitting and talking for five minutes. It’s what I call “cup of water” obedience. I don’t have to do BIG things for God (like be a missionary to Zimbabwe – I call that “King Kong” obedience). I only have to give a cold cup of water to someone who is thirsty.

I’m learning sacrifice. I’m doing things with and for Mom that I would never have imagined. Mom always loved crafts. I don’t. But in order to share things with her when the possibilities in her world are so limited, I purchase crafts and we work on them together. I’m doing all the work, of course, but Mom sits next to me and knows instinctively how to do them and instructs me accordingly. I’d much prefer to read and follow the directions. But I humble myself and “OK, Mom, what should I do next?” (I’ve drawn a line at using a glue gun.)

I’m learning that sacrifice is the currency of heaven and the language of love…but I digress…that’s another blog-to-come.

I’m learning the importance of enjoying life…even when it’s not very enjoyable. I’m not very good at that. Mom is very good at that. She turns every event into a party. I used to think this was part of Mom’s “foolishness.” I’ve learned that it is part of her strength.

I’m learning to be friendlier than I really am and nicer to others than I really am. Everyone matters to Mom. In many ways she reflects the love of Christ much better than I do. She is a person who truly sees the best in everyone and treats them accordingly.

I’m learning that having a deep trust in God doesn’t always look the way I expect it to look. Mom has a simple, usually unspoken, unpretentious faith. When she arrives in heaven, I imagine Jesus planning a clown parade in her honor and everyone will be wearing funny hats and will have their own noise-maker. This would not be heaven to me, but it surely will be for Mom.

I’m learning to honor people for serving in professions that I cannot fathom serving in.

I’m learning to love better.

All this from a teacher who can no longer feed or dress herself. Wow! I love you, Mom!

One Response to “Lessons from the “Good Humor” Lady — Thanks Mom!”
  1. Mandy says:

    This gave me chills. Thank you for reminding me of what’s important.

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