A couple of weeks ago I received a letter in the mail confirming that I do not have cancer. I hadn’t told anyone, including my husband, that my doctor had suspected it. I think my primary concern was preventing undo worry by family and friends. Instead I turned my fear over to God and accepted His will before going in for the procedure regardless of what the outcome would be. It’s been more than two decades since my own mother died of cancer. Since she died I’ve not had a fear of being diagnosed with the disease or facing death. My concern was leaving my eleven year old daughter without her mom.
I was the same age when my mom was diagnosed. I remember going to a doctor’s appointment with her and my dad and sitting in the waiting room while they went into the doctor’s office. I had no idea why we were there. Afterwards in the car I listened to the two of them talk. My dad stopped at a car wash to wash the car and I stood at the end of the bay area with my mom. Still confused I asked “Mom, do you have cancer?” She responded with a very matter of fact “Yes.” Eighteen months later she died.
I loved my mother but I can’t defend her as a mother. She became a Christian shortly before her death but by then I pitied her more than held respect for her and once her battle was over my only comfort was that she would no longer suffer. I felt so lost. I no longer had a mom but then I didn’t have, in my eyes, a mom even before she got sick. She wasn’t one to do “Mom” things. I didn’t learn to cook from her, never learned how to iron a blouse, sew a button, keep a house clean or how to conduct myself in a manner pleasing to God. I couldn’t see it then but even through those darkest years, God not only hadn’t forsaken me but molding me through it all and the mom that He gave me was exactly the mom that I needed in order to mold me for later callings.
In light of my own childhood, the only thing I could focus on while waiting for the results of that test was “if this is it, have I taught my daughter everything He wanted me to?” I’ve always heard people say that children are a gift from God. While that may be true, Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a REWARD. Deuteronomy 6 reminds us that we are to teach to our children the commandments of God and do so diligently. I began to question have I done this? Have I taught my daughter to earnestly seek His will for her life? Have I built for her a firm foundation of faith? What about the other life lessons that I learned on my own, have I shared with her my experiences that will protect her from the same hurt and mistakes? Have I taught her skills that will enhance her life or will she been doomed to a life of Ramen noodles because I didn’t teach her to cook? When reminded that our days are numbered, the mind can be a whirlwind of thoughts; no matter how absurd or improbable.
I concluded that my life was going to change regardless of the test result and so it did. In the weeks since, I have diligently prayed for and over my daughter. She doesn’t leave my vehicle in the morning for school before I place my hand upon her and pray for blessings on her day. In the afternoons she is learning skills at home that will help her later such as maintaining a home and tending to responsibilities. She also spends most evenings in the kitchen beside me learning to cook. The transformation that I’ve seen in her is incredible. We have talks now. Not just the superficial ‘how was school? Fine’ moments but rather “Mom can I ask your advice? Mom what would you do? Mom can you help me?” We’ve talked about her dreams and how to realistically pursue them and above all, we have talked about Christ and her personal relationship with Him.
My daughter accepted Christ three years ago but I have to admit that since then I haven’t pushed much for her to seek Him and His will. I hadn’t realized how much she needed to work on her dialog with Him, that one on one connection. She was starting to view Him as the big scary guy who was going to condemn her if she messed up. I didn’t want that for her because I knew from personal experience how that felt. It’s taking time but with His help we’re getting there and through this journey I have, more than ever, realized that if I didn’t go through what I had, if I wasn’t able to recognize what I had missed out on as a kid, I would never be able to recognize what is crucial for my daughter to learn from me.
As mothers we have an obligation to “train up our children in the way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6) If you’re a mother like I was, being lax in her role and letting teachings fall by the wayside then please let me encourage you to start where you are and start doing your job as a mother. We were not blessed with children so that we can ignore them while we play on the internet. We were blessed because our God Almighty deemed us worthy of reward. Let us all step up to His calling and bless our children by simply becoming the best mothers that we can be for them. Training and teaching them daily with the life lessons that will build them into productive citizens and followers of Christ.