The past few weeks has been an emotional roller-coaster! It is a little over a week ago that my mother went into the hospital being treated for a pneumonia only to discover that she has “Stage 4- Ovarian Cancer”. It is a daily walk of self-reflection in order to simply comprehend what is going on and there are moments that it just seems surreal. There is a passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31:28, when describing a woman who has been faithful living a life that has honored God one of the blessings that she will receive is that her children “Will rise up and call her blessed!” My mother is an amazing woman of courage and faith who is determined that even as she battles against cancer she can be a living witness to the grace of God that has been on her life to others. I just wanted to sit down and write this blog post some of the characteristics of my mother that has shaped my life in profound ways. This son, wants to rise up and call my mother, Nancy Mathis, blessed of the Lord.
Let me give you at least six Characteristics:
- Mom you are blessed of the Lord because you modeled a life that was totally committed to obeying the will of God!
My mother has had opportunities to do many things but her passionate desire was always to do what God called her to do! Her focus was never for material gain but always desiring to do what Jesus had desired her to do. I watched my mother through the years take on jobs because she felt that the Lord was leading her to a position and a role because the people there needed to know Christ. My mother was never just about a good idea, but instead, if it was a God-idea! Mom, thank you for the courageous way that you obeyed Jesus Christ!
- Mom you are blessed of the Lord because you unselfishly love others.
This son has experienced the unconditional love of my mother who in my wildest past moments as an angry young man she loved me into receiving the love of Christ. My mother loves people. One of my mentors who has graduated to be with Christ, Jerry Cook, would consistently declare, “Love is the oxygen of the kingdom of God.” My mother exhaled love to all people that would cross her path. She risked loving others even when she was hurt by loving. Henri Nouwen when speaking of the pain of love wrote, “Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.” My mother embodied the previous statement and her capacity to love others has inspired me to love unselfishly. No matter the cost … She chose to love!
- Mom you are blessed because your humility to forgive others.
There were times that I would see my mother mistreated or not treated well by others. I have watched her experience betrayal and rejection and she would always make the choice to forgive. For my mother forgiveness always opened the doors of her heart for compassion. My mother would always comment that she could not allow her heart to get ensnared with bitterness and resentment because people needed the compassion of Christ. She had the unique blending of a humility that would always admit her human frailty and at the same time the capacity to move ahead. Once again, Henri Nouwen, when discussing the need for compassion writes, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” My mom no matter what the challenge was …taught this son how to be fully human by receiving compassion as well as giving compassion!
- Mom you are blessed because you lived out what it meant to live in the truth as well as to speak the truth in love!
I watched my mother through the years have to at times speak the truth in love. Often times, it would not be very popular but I so appreciated how she lived free because she was not in bondage to what others thought of her but instead it mattered if she could look at the face of Christ and know she had said and done the right thing with a right heart. Even in some of the most painful scenarios I have never heard my mother speak negatively of others. She has always been honorable and respectful toward others in the most difficult of circumstances. She would disagree but never became disagreeable. My mom embodied what Henri Nouwen described when he wrote, “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.” My mother taught me how to put people, places and things … in the right place … always treating them with honor!
- Mom you are blessed because you now how to let people laugh with you!
Whenever our family is together and we are around my mother we know how to laugh. No matter the season my mom understands the contagious joy that comes with laughter. People will often times say to me, “Al, when you laugh you remind me of your mother when you laugh.” Yes, because I am her son and she taught me how to laugh. In the hospital even when it was painful my mom would make others laugh. My mother is beautiful but she is indescribable when she laughs. My mother taught me how to laugh!
- Mom you are blessed because of your lifestyle of prayer.
My mom knows how to pray. Before the whole notion of being contemplative or reflective became popular words to describe a life committed to being formed into the image of Christ my mother has lived this out everyday. As a young man I could remember my other getting up early in the morning to pray. When my mother states that she is praying for you know this … SHE IS PASSIONATELY PRAYING FOR YOU! I am getting to live out the calling that Jesus Christ has for me because I have a mother who prayed for me and continues to pray for me. My mother is blessed because she modeled how many of the victories in life are lived out … on one’s knees in prayer.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the Christ-Honoring characteristics of my mother but here is a few that I wanted to write about this evening. By the way – please do not interpret this article as some type of good-bye or even from a person who may despondent with grief. This short article is just about a son who feels so wonderfully blessed to have the mother that he has and just simply wants to communicate that I could not have ever gotten to this stage of my journey if it was not for the courageous faith, love, and life that my mom gave to me! I am blessed to be the son of Nancy Rae Mathis… I bless you MOM!
If you read this article I encourage you to contact your mother and tell her how much you love her. If you would like to follow my Mother and Cousins journey as they battle against cancer you can like their Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/chemochics/