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Recently I was given the honor of preparing and presenting my testimony at the Christian Women’s Club. The club gives each speaker 25 minutes. Reading the entire story straight from the book would take well over an hour. I would have to condense my story. Through this painful process of condensing, the Lord revealed to me a significant personal truth. Perhaps I have been the only one who did not see what was between the lines. I probably needed someone to say, “Oh, I see what you are saying.” And I then I could have responded by asking, “What? Tell me what you see.”
Since no one has been that brave, God decided to step in. I can picture him now, thinking this through: I’ll orchestrate a circumstance that will pull the personal truth out of the text! She has had a glimmer of this fact before, but now she is ready for a deeper revelation.
Our Lord knew I was ready for the bigger picture. So, I began: delete, delete, and delete some more (Oh, some of my favorite parts are falling on the cutting room floor!). Then, I added a few sentences to make up for all the deleted information. First a quote from the book: “As I was my mother’s companion for TV’s ‘Guiding Light,’ I was my father’s silent confidante, ever ready to pour out words of encouragement and comfort whenever he chose to turn and acknowledge me.” Now for the condensed add-on: “As a child, I was powerless to help my mother and father find happiness. So, I determined to someday bring happiness to them. I would lift then up on the shoulders of my happiness.”
Wow! Really? Why didn’t someone point this out to me? So, that’s what I have been doing all these years! I took on the responsibility for my parents’ happiness (and you can imagine how that life-long, self-imposed commitment played out!). Innocent children have an innate, unconditional love for their parents. They want their mother and father to be happy. They experience deep sadness when their mother and/or father is sad.
Recently I went to the downtown part of our city to take care of my mother’s business. She is in a nursing home and, since her money has been spent down, she is on Medicaid. I lingered in a large room with many other people who were also waiting to be escorted to one of the cubicles where they, like me, would speak with their case-worker. All of us, young and old, had a need for financial assistance from the government. At the end of the room were double doors that opened into a hallway. I could hear a voice from around the corner. It was a child’s voice. He was pleading with his mother. He kept repeating the same sentence. “I love you, mommy. I love you, mommy.” I did not hear the mother answer him. Was the child trying to console his mother? Was the mother displaying stress and sadness? (The reasons for being in that place are stressful and sad ones.)
I wanted to get up and go find the child, kneel down in front of him, and say, “I love you. God loves you.” If the situation I overheard was a sample of the child’s relationship with his mother, I cannot help but think: Where is their relationship heading? This child will probably turn from his mother one day in anger (and his anger may be expressed as depression. Once I heard a definition for depression, which spoke of it as being “anger turned inward”).
I am not suggesting we present a happy, go-lucky spirit with our children. That persona is unreal, and our children are as quick to pick up on it as they are the forlorn one. Rather, my message to mothers (and fathers) everywhere is that they can find true happiness in an authentic relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no substitute for this road to true happiness.
I just wish I could kneel in front of every child in the world and say, “I love you. God loves you.” However, we can each kneel in front of our children and say those words. We can live out the life of peace and a quiet joy. I know without any doubt that God the Father loves me. He bends down to me every day and says, “I love you. I love you.” My journey would have been greatly condensed if I had understood this truth earlier, but it has been a long, rambling road with very much between the lines.
To young mothers, I want to say: “Recognize God’s love, respond to it, teach it, and witness it to your children. It is the only genuine gift you can give them.” I am still a mother, and now I am a grandmother. I am real with my children and grandchildren. They have seen me cry in sadness and display justifiable anger on occasion. However, they see someone who is able to accept life’s many bumps in the road because the Father’s love has been realized. I am sure they can hear the echo of the Father’s words: “I love your mother. I love your grandmother.” We can give our children and grandchildren the freedom of not needing to bear the responsibility for our happiness; we can witness the presence in our lives of God, who is the source of our true happiness.
~A.R. (Alice) Cecil
p.s. (I recommend a book by Martyn Lloyd-Jones with the title: True Happiness.)