AN ENCOURAGING WORD for May 10, 2007 - written by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, Monroeville First United Methodist Church
Reflections on Mother’s Day
Sunday is Mother’s Day, a time when our minds turn instinctively to the meaning and quality of love in our lives and the person from whom we first received love. How we received love from this primary parent the first few years of our lives still colors our lives more than we know.
For many the nostalgia of Mother’s Day puts us in touch with some deep primal sentimental feelings that we may not have felt or expressed for a long time. It feels good to be sentimental, and perhaps we need to be in touch with those feelings more often than most of us do. It has a way of softening some of the crusty cynicism that seems to accumulate in life like barnacles on a ship. And God knows we could do with fewer barnacles.
Most of us have conscious memories of how we were nurtured by our mother which go back to the earliest days of our lives. I dare say that we likely have as many subconscious impressions of early childhood as we do conscious memories. Some say these subconscious memories even go back to a time before we were born. That is an interesting thought! We do know that the content of our subconscious mind has a profound influence in our lives.
We can all dig up memories of how we were cared for by our mother when we were hurt – physically or emotionally. Fathers tend to gloss over the cuts and bruises and disappointments of little children by urging them to be strong – "don’t cry – it will be alright by tomorrow – it happens to everybody." Not so with mothers! Mothers tend to hug hurt children, kiss the boo-boo, and say soft understanding words. How we are nurtured and cared for as children when we were hurt leaves a profound conscious and unconscious impression. I have been told by soldiers who have experienced combat that wounded and dying soldiers often cry out for their mothers. I have on several occasions been at the bedside of elderly people whose last words as they were dying were for their mother. That is how deep the influence runs. In the throes of death and distress our minds go back to that earliest care giver.
Mothers have a powerful influence on the lives of their children which continues undiminished down to the end.
Since no parents are perfect, it follows that all parents make parenting mistakes. Those mistakes also constitute a powerful influence on children. Most of the marriage problems that come into the counseling rooms of pastors and psychologists have roots that go back to the family of origin. Some parents do untold emotional damage to their children in unspeakable ways. Child abuse can, and does, happen in many ways. Children survive and overcome the occasional and unintentional mistakes of parents. It is the constant repetition of the same mistake that does irreparable damage.
All parents should remember that, for better or for worse, our children are forever influenced by what we did or did not do when they were young. That thought should make all parents of young children careful, intentional, and loving with their children.