Hands that Bless - Part 2
As we head closer to Mother's Day, of all the "pictures" I remember of my mother, it's her hands that stand out to me. In the picture below, they're beautiful and healthy...
But by the time I was ten, my mother's hands were bent and twisted with rheumatoid arthritis. The world wouldn't have thought them beautiful. But they were to beautiful to me and to my brothers. They became, in fact, a symbol of her love for us over the years.
Because of the pain in those twisted joints, my mother could not grab your hand. She never took your hand and shook it. When she took it, she touched it gently, squeezing just a part of it. Holding on to you softly. Then releasing you from her touch.
That's how she held on to each of us boys. Tenderly. Softly. With real affection and warmth.
Yet loosely. The day Jeff (my twin brother) and I turned sixteen, she took us to get our driver's licenses. We passed the written and drivers test. Got our license, and thirty minutes later, she let us drive our old Volkswagen twelve hundred miles fromPhoenix to Indianapolis to see our Aunt and Uncle. She wanted to go with us, but her hands and knees her way too much to be scrunched in a small car for that long.
Every time I look back, I marvel at the loose hold she had on our lives.
She held everything loosely. Cups. Silverware. Pencils. She even held the days loosely, never knowing whether it would be a good day or a bad one, taking what came and taking it with grace. If her gentle touch helped us to grow up, it also provided a strong incentive to do what was right. Because her hands hurt so much, my mother was never able to spank us, but beneath her tender ways there lay an underlying firmness when we went beyond the lines. Worse than a spanking was her way of placing her hand on our, always softly, and speaking to us of her concern for our behavior, always gently as well.
When she looked up at you and help your hand, you might as well have been in the grip of a lumberjack. You couldn't pull away. It would hurt her hands too much if you did. And she's cry from the pain. So you sat there. And you listened. And little by little, the warmth of her heart melted the anger and defiance in yours.
Whatever I lost in a dad when he bailed out when I was two months old, God gave back to me, and overflowing, in a mom. She was the compensating grace in my life.
She was like Job in many ways. She hadn't deserved the divorce or the disease. Yet she refused to complain, much less to curse God. In spite of the pain, she carried on with love, with purpose, with dignity. She never gave up, never turned despondent.
Her hands couldn't iron my slacks or sew buttons on my shirts or tie my ties. She couldn't do much with her hands. Yet with them she taught me everything - a picture at a time, a blessing at a time.
At this Mother's Day season, what pictures of your mothers hands (or the memory of a picture) do you carry?
Perhaps you see them folding a damp washcloth and laying it gently on your fevered forehead or clapping for you when you scored that goal. Perhaps you see her hands typing that term paper for you late at night, or waving to you at graduation, or praying for you during that time of deepest hurt.
That's what taking the time to BLESS YOUR MOTHER is all about this Mother's Day.
Absolutely, get her a card or flowers. I've done that for almost 18 years running now - since my mother's gone to heaven. I've taken flowers to her grave every year. But when she was alive, like my good friend, Darrell Heringer taught me to tell our girls, "You teach them that EVERY DAY is Mother's Day as far as their mom is concerned! And sure enough, even though both our girls are grown, our precious daughters are giving their mother flowers this year - a bouquet make out of fruit!
(And I hope Cindy doesn't read this until after Mother's Day!).
But take time to do TWO THINGS...
1) Look back at the pictures you carry of your mother. No mother is perfect. There will be those pictures when perhaps she was tired or angry or hurt or insensitive. But look at the snapshots, Polaroids, pictures. The many ways in which a mother's hands - in which YOUR MOTHER'S HANDS - served and comforted and taught and disciplined and protected and were closed in prayer for you.
2) WRITE HER A BLESSING along with the flowers, card or gift. I CAN'T ENCOURAGE YOU ENOUGH if your Mom is living to put yours words down for her. That's what we're calling parents to do with their children at www.TheBlessing.com And if you'll go there, and take the Blessing Challenge, you'll find out specifics (as well as examples) on how to write out a Blessing if you haven't done it before.
What you write to Bless your Mom doesn't have to be long or "brilliant" (like your sister the writer would have written). It doesn't have to be "clever" or "funny" (like your brother would have penned). It's your heart. Your Mom. YOUR PICTURES. But know that God's word says, "Death and Life are in the power of the tongue." Proverbs 18:21. It starts with Death as a warning. Your words - spoken AND written can subtract (Death). But they can also marvelously add LIFE to your Mom's life this Mother's Day.
So as you look back at the pictures of Blessing your Mom left you... remember one more thing. Each day, YOU'RE leaving behind pictures of Blessing as well for your children, spouse and friends...