The stories confirm it. There might not be another person more influential in the life of an individual than their mother.
I can't tell you how many times I've sat down over coffee with an individual or had someone share their story and heard a very similar tale, "If it wasn't for my mother, God knows where I would be today."
In my line of work, it's almost weekly that I get to see firsthand the amazing love of a mother for her children. The kind of love that knows no boundaries and is the closest thing to unconditional I've ever witnessed. Whether it's a desperate phone call concerned about the safety or whereabouts of a wandering child or a simple prayer request about the right job for their son or daughter, the love of a mother is clear.
Like many of you, I'm a product of a godly, praying mother. Although my life story won't ever become a bestselling novel or even keep the general person awake for that matter, I can tell you that my mother has played a huge role in the direction of my life.
While most people won't deny the importance of a mother, I've realized something rather alarming throughout the years. Many times it's the mothers that don't fully recognize the full extent of their calling and influence. I've seen moms who view their roles as somewhat of a lesser calling since their sphere of influence is sometimes relegated to the family and maybe a few others.
Just FYI, the number of people you are influencing has absolutely nothing to do with your calling. If God has called you to influence 200 people at your business or one 4-year-old little boy at home, it makes no difference. It's all about doing what God has called you to do with everything you have.
Let's be honest, though. It's hard for many moms to see the rewards of all their hard work. I don't know many 3-year-old kids who stop in the middle of their daily dose of Dora the Explorer, look over to mom and say, "Hey! I just wanted to say thanks for taking care of me and laying a foundation for the rest of my life."
In fact, I don't know many teenagers or twenty-somethings who do that.
Most moms probably have these internal gauges they use, whether they know it or not, that they rate their effectiveness according to. Is my child doing well in school, is he/she making good life choices, how does he/she treat people of the opposite sex, etc. When one, many or all of these gauges aren't going the way they should be, a mother begins to evaluate (or reevaluate) her success as a mom.
Sometimes it's essential that a mom stop, step back and begin to gauge herself according to the big picture. Here's some of the big picture stuff in my opinion.
Moms create a safe place for their children, whether they're five or 25. Just last week, I received a call from a mother whose 20-year-old son had left home and not contacted anyone for weeks.
She was concerned over his safety, the direction of his life and the possible outcomes of the situation. The situation wasn't good.
What do you do? First, you pray. Second, I recommended to the mother that she not condone the negative behavior of the son, but she always try to create a safe place for the son to return home, a place of love and forgiveness.
Can I tell you how many times I've seen these wandering kids return home? It's not always the way or in the amount of time that you want, but the percentages are pretty good.
Next, I think that moms (and dads for that matter) always underestimate their influence on their kids. Although your 13-year-old daughter might not act like she's listening to a word you're saying, she is. In fact, she is watching a lot closer than you think.
That's why so many of us as we get older begin to look at ourselves, and we realize we are more like our parents than we thought. Why? We can't help but pattern our lives according to the things we've seen by the people closest to us.
Your 13-year-old will almost never realize (and definitely never verbalize) just how your words and actions are influencing them, but a little later in life (just after the "I know everything stage"), they will actually come to appreciate you. I know it seems impossible.
And inevitably in your child's moment of crisis, personal reflection or major transition in life they will look back on what they've learned from you.
My mother's not perfect, but she is an amazing woman of God. Her influence on my life would take thousands of pages to document. I am the husband, father, pastor and friend that I am today because of her influence. And it only took me nearly three decades to realize it.
I can't tell you everything (or most of things for that matter) that she ever told me, but she did do one thing way more important than that. She painted a picture with her life of the unconditional love of God, and she always believed in me. I always knew whether I did incredible things in life or face planted with style that I always had one unconditional fan.
Whether you're a brand new mom, a mom going through a difficult season, or a mom enjoying the fruits of all your hard work, don't EVER begin to underestimate the amazing calling and impact of what you do.
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