Moms, Seat Belts and our Heavenly Parent
Do you remember what it was like to drive a car...before power steering? Before automatic transmission? Before air conditioning?
And how about seat belts? Back when we were restraint-free, parents could pack six kids into a family car, along with the family dog and cat and turtle, with nothing to h old them down.
Today we have laws requiring children less than four years to be buckled into some sort of child car seat---you can't bring your newborn home from the hospital without one. For slightly older kids there are booster seats---and on go the regulations.
Some of us grew up with a different kind of child-restraint system. Judith Viorst writes about it: "This year I received a Mother's Day card that pictured a mother driving a car, her son in the passenger seat and her outstretched arm protectively flung across his chest. I've heard a great deal from my sons about my overprotective tendencies, but I think that this card's message said it best: 'To Mom, the original seat belt.'"
A mom's protective reach has always been the seat belt for her family. This security device takes different forms in different families. For some, mom offered the seat belt of continuous presence: seeing them off on the school bus and welcoming them back when they flew in the door; putting every meal on the table; shouting encouragement at every game, not to mention the endless hours of taxiing them to games, dance classes and music lessons.
For others, mom offered the seat belt of a role model: A mom who always worked incredibly hard at her job, her church, her family; a mom who put everything she had into all the things she did, regardless of how important or how rivial. Many of us learned how to care for others by watching the way our mothers practiced compassion and helped those who needed it.
For some, mom offered the seat belt of stability. When we went to new schools, new homes, new neighborhoods or churches, or were facing new challenges, mom was always there.
For others still, mothers offered a seat belt of gentleness: a spirit of love, forgiveness, tenderness, always accessible, always welcoming. Arms that wrapped around and helped them feel that life would be all right.
Some received from their moms a creative passion, a way to envision the world in a way that others didn't, or a deep concern to help set the world straight and to make things right again. And some even had preacher moms and thus received their share of "momilies."
No matter what they did, though, being a mom wasn't easy. In fact, it's one of the toughest jobs on earth. As author Hester Mundis says, "There's no such thing as a nonworking mother."
And, as Michelangel's Pieta illustrates with such heart-breaking poignancy, even Jesus ended where he began: in the arms of his mother.
True, our mothers are not perfect. Best as they try, they make mistakes and don't always live up to their best intentions. There is only one Parent who never fails us. Jesus called him "Abba," but we think of this God as one who is both a Father and a Mother to us all.
This Divine Parent is the seat belt on our spirit. As Leonard Sweet writes, "It is the gentle binding on our heart and soul that lets us venture into dangerous territory, unknown challenges, and unfriendly circumstances without losing our love. The greatest love we can express is not mother's love or father's love, not romantic love or humanitarian love. The greatest love, which we are called by Christ to be filled with to overflowing, is 'disciple love.'"
As we give thanks this Mother's Day for those hwo brought us into the world, who held us and fed us and assured us that everything would be all right, let us also remember that we are held and fed and loved by a heavenly seat belt---a support that, no matter how far or fast we travel or what danger comes our way, will never let us go.
— Pastor Ed