Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Reflections on Mother's Day

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.


Sarah Ellen said...

Jim, You do not know what it took to get me logged into a bog so I could respond to your "Reflections" that you shared with us. You always have wonderful Mother and Father's Day sermons and although I may not remember them from year to year, they stay on my mind for a good while after Sunday. (About as long as anything stay on my mind these days.) My dad was also mom to me for many years after my mom died so I always tried to honor him on Mother's Day...the "you've been like a mother to me" and he always got a kick out of that. I wish I had as many memories of my mom as I do of my dad. The memories I do have of her are wonderful, there just are not enough of them. Thank you for the emphasis you put on the family. There just seems to be so much missing today and it makes me sad for the children who do not have the same type family life that I had. I do love and enjoy seeing the young families in our church that are making the effort to raise their children in the church and I know it is going to make a difference in their lives like it did in mine. I cannot imagine what it would have been like and feel for those who were not exposed like I was. I do not remember ever not knowing Jesus, or a least knowing about Him. I see people in such deep trouble and just think, there but for the Grace of God, and thank Him that I know Him and have Him in my life. Thank you for all you do to help me try to continue my walk and growth with Christ. You are very special to Clint and me ane that is a true blessing for us. God's blessings and favor, Sarah Ellen

Nancy said...

Hi Jim,
Having just lost my Mom, your words were particularly meaningful. I have been flooded with memories of her these past few weeks, some that have been buried for years. But they are all warm, loving memories of a mother who was my biggest fan......no matter how old and crotchety I got. I love to work with young families at the Day School and see this generation of mothers in action. Some things never change.....they love their children more than life itself and would do anything to protect them. I thank God every day that I had a wonderful mother. With His help I will try to follow in her footsteps with my own grown children. I miss you guys, but I'll be back soon. Nancy Stewart