As you take time to celebrate motherhood this weekend, dear readers, here are some thoughts about motherly love from acclaimed author Susan May Warren.
As I write this, my eldest son is on his way home from college, having finished his last classes, preparing for finals . . . and then graduation.
It seems like yesterday that I was holding him in my arms, hoping and praying so much for him, longing that he never make my mistakes, that he have an amazing, love-filled life. But it never works out quite that way, does it? Because on the way to adulthood, children make mistakes, break our hearts, and the challenge is when to reach out to catch them and when to let them fall. Being a parent is dangerously wonderful, breathtaking and terrifying.
As I wrote Take a Chance on Me, and as I’m working on the rest of the collection, I realized the thread that weaves through these stories is the hope Ingrid Christiansen has for each of her children. Her hope—and belief—in her children is written in a letter at the beginning of each book. It’s a prayer, really. The words she longs to speak to her son, even though he can’t hear her.
My dearest Darek,
Even as I write this letter, I know I’ll tuck it away; the words on it are more of a prayer, meant for the Lord more than you. Or maybe, in the scribbling upon this journal page, the words might somehow find your heart, a cry that extends across the bond of mother and child.
The firstborn child is always the one who solves the mystery of parenthood. Before I had you, I watched other mothers and wondered at the bond between a child and a parent, the strength of it, the power to mold a woman, making her put all hopes and wishes into this tiny bundle of life that she had the responsibility to raise.
It’s an awe-filled, wonderful, terrifying act to have a child, for you suddenly wear your heart on the outside of your body. You risk a little more each day as he wanders from your arms into the world. You, Darek, were no protector of my heart. You were born with a willfulness, a courage, and a bent toward adventure that would bring me to the edge of my faith and keep me on my knees. The day I first saw you swinging from that too-enticing oak tree into the lake should have told me that I would be tested.
Your brothers shortened your name to Dare, and you took it to heart. I was never so terrified as the day you came home from Montana, fresh from your first year as a hotshot, feeling your own strength. I knew your future would take you far from Evergreen Lake. I feared it would take you far, also, from your legacy of faith.
Watching your son leave your arms has no comparison to watching him leave God’s. You never seemed to question the beliefs your father and I taught you. Perhaps that is what unsettled me the most, because without questioning, I wondered how there could be true understanding. I held my breath against the day when it would happen—life would shatter you and leave your faith bereft.
And then it did.
It brought you home, in presence if not soul. If it hadn’t been for your son, I might have done the unthinkable—stand in our gravel driveway and bar you from returning, from hiding.
Because, my courageous, bold oldest son, that is what you are doing. Hiding. Bitter and dark, you have let guilt and regret destroy your foundation, imprison you, and steal your joy. You may believe you are building a future for your son, but without faith, you have nothing to build it on. Evergreen Resort is not just a place. It’s a legacy. A foundation. A belief.
It’s the best of what I have to give you. That, and my unending prayers that somehow God will destroy those walls you’ve constructed around your heart.
Darek, you have become a mystery to me again. I don’t know how to help free you. Or to restore all you’ve lost. But I believe that if you give God a chance, He will heal your heart. He will give you a future. He will truly lead you home.
As I wrote Ingrid’s letter to Darek in Take a Chance on Me, I thought about the times I couldn’t hear God, and I wondered what God’s letter to me might look like. And then I knew. In fact, I have an entire book of God’s letters to me.
This is one of my favorites:
I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)
It’s the cry of a parent, reaching out, not giving up. Willing to let me fall but standing near enough for me to reach out to him, near enough to help me up.
I pray this Mother’s Day you feel the love of God in your life, the kind that reaches out even when we can’t hear, the kind of love that is just within arm’s reach.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Susie May Warren