A Tribute to Mom

Rebecca Hagelin
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Posted: May 08, 2015 12:01 AM
A Tribute to Mom

Editor's Note: In Honor of Mother's Day, we depart from the regular format of Faith and Family: Hope for Every Generation, to bring you a tribute that Kristin wrote about and to her mom, Rebecca.

Real-life heroes, the kind of heroes that truly influence the way others live, are simply ordinary people who live wisely and sincerely. We hang onto their words and ways, and when we soak in their wisdom, it becomes as much a part of who we are as it was a part of them.

Our mothers are the heroes that we were once a part of, the ones who continually pour themselves into us, first birthing and then shaping abundant life in us.

Frederick Buechner illustrated the kind of affect a real hero can have on someone’s life. In his book, A Room Called Remember, he wrote:

“You sit at the feet of the wise and learn what they have to teach, and our debts to them are so great that, if your experience is like mine, even twenty-five years later you will draw on the depth and breadth of their insights, and their voices will speak in you still, and again and again you will find yourself speaking in their voices…”

Mother-heroes certainly have that effect. Children often grow up to find themselves becoming more and more like their parents, but that is especially true in families with strong parent and child relationships. As those children mature, they bring an extra level of intentionality into the act of becoming like their parents. And so the heroism of a good mother is contagious.

Just like a river branches out in a thousand directions so that those living near its source will never know how far-reaching its waters are, our mothers’ self-sacrifice pours blessings over many generations. It’s simply impossible to overstate how deserving these women are of our gratitude and praise.

So thank you, Mom, for listening long to childhood fantasies and ramblings, never shutting down small dreams, but gently guiding me to strive for much greater. And thank you for speaking truth firmly, but always lovingly, helping me find the grace within myself to take courage, restore hope and offer forgiveness.

Some of my sweetest memories from my relationship with my mother are of late nights up talking. Most of the time, those conversations weren’t about anything in particular. And though I don’t necessarily remember everything we talked about, I do remember that I never wanted to go to bed.

In our family, we tend to open up a little more at night, when the distractions of the day fall away. My parents noticed the trend, and have always enjoyed it as much, if not more so, than I have. They could have been strict about sending my brothers and me to bed so that they could get some downtime when we were kids, but instead they chose to let us stay up together. Sometimes the timing of a conversation makes all the difference, and when the time was right, they weren’t going to lose the opportunity.

Thank you, Mom, for spoiling me with affection shown through meaningful touch, carefully chosen words, and gifts of time and of substance, given joyfully and freely. Those memories and words will stick with me always.

I frequently received notes from my mom as I was growing up. It seems that at every major life event, and many of the small ones, I got one: birthdays, graduations, study abroad, and sometimes, just because. We both have an attraction to the written word, which may be part of the reason why she loved writing them and I loved getting them. But what kid doesn’t love getting words of praise and encouragement from his or her parents?

I have a box of memorabilia, where I’ve kept many of the letters I’ve gotten from both of my parents over the years. From time to time, I go through it, and the words written to me years ago never fail to bring me to tears. In fact, they mean much more to me now than they did when I first got them. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” I can attest to that truth. And words written in love only get sweeter with time.

Thank you, Mom, for being full of integrity, matching your actions to your words and your words to the Truth you hold to unwaveringly.

I’ve heard that “the opposite of integrity is hypocrisy,” and “hypocrisy is the gap that exists between the public and the private life.” One of the traits I admire most about my mother is that in every essential aspect, her public and private lives are identical. My parents’ beliefs, actions and words have always been consistent, as were their expectations and rules. They set good examples for my brothers and me primarily because they were clear examples. We were free to make our own decisions and we were responsible for our own actions, but they didn’t leave room for us to have any confusion over what is right and what is wrong.

Thank you, Mom, for feeding my mind with books, conversation, schooling and art. And for feeding my spirit by praying for me constantly and intentionally pointing me toward God with every chance you got. Thank you for providing a home I was proud to bring my friends to, not because of how it looked, but because of the freedom we found within its walls and your welcoming, generous presence.

In his book, Let your Life Speak, Parker Palmer wrote that “identity does not depend on the role we play or the power it gives us over others. It depends only on the simple fact that we are children of God, valued in and for ourselves. When a leader is grounded in that knowledge, what happens in the family, the office, the classroom, the hospital can be life-giving for all concerned.”

Looking back, I can see that my parents have always been confident in their own identities, and their confidence comes from their faith in a God who is leading them step by step into His perfect plan for their lives. As a result, my mom has been nurturing every soul she has ever come in contact with, and I expect she always will.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I’m proud of you.