I never showed my mother much appreciation when I was an active, mischievous, and ambitious young child. I never felt the need.
I think every mom knows this sad truth. Kids don’t thank parents nearly enough, mostly because they are not fully aware of the late nights, the hidden worry, the relentless barrage of economic and emotional investment that goes into raising a child, or five, as in my family of origin.
The blood, sweat, and tears that go into providing growth opportunities and increased responsibility in order to develop a well-rounded, Christ-following child is ongoing, tough, and mostly thankless work.
I am now 46—not old, but also not young. Perhaps the celebration of Ontario’s Family Day this month would be a good time to say “thank you” to my mother.
Former Banner editor and Christian Reformed Church pastor Andrew Kuyvenhoven wrote a small booklet that referred to the church as “Mother.” I remember reading it in my late teens. It opened my eyes to the true nature of belonging to a local church. If the church is the bride of Christ, then we, God’s children, are also children of the church. The CRC that raised me and taught me what it meant to be a Christian is my mother: Christ’s bride, our Mother! The church.
My appreciation for my mother the church is not much different from my childhood lack of appreciation for my birth mother. I have been unaware of the hidden cost and work that it takes for the CRC to provide the growth opportunities and kingdom-changing initiatives that help raise fully-developed disciples of Christ. But I am learning.
In my first six months as Canadian Ministries director, I have grown in my awareness of my faith mother, the CRC. Knowing mostly the denomination in its Canadian setting, I now understand the breadth and depth of our work in neighborhood communities, local churches, and within the broader culture.
I see my faith mother praying with people at the bottom of the social ladder; celebrating racial differences and gifts; supporting the causes of the Aboriginal community; making hospital visits; working with other faith traditions on creation care, peace, or human trafficking.
I see her ministering to Muslims; working in community development; engaging policymakers in government—and the list goes on.
And then she turns around and finds time to be proactive about the at-home practices of raising youth; gathering for corporate prayer; discerning best practices for keeping the house in order; balancing the checkbook, and intentionally guiding her children into Christian education. The list goes on and on. This CRC mother is a strong woman!
But I also see her frailty and brokenness. Perhaps you would say her concern for her own children needs some sharpening. Perhaps she does not always communicate clearly and effectively. Perhaps she is getting a little old and could use more youthful energy. Perhaps she squabbles with her marriage partner too often. Perhaps she gets wrapped up in external matters too heavily. Perhaps.
But she is human. As I watch her working imperfectly, yet with such zeal, I understand Proverbs 31 better. It is not a description of my birth mother, but of my faith mother, a mother who provides opportunities for growth and who wants her children to cling to her and yell “Pick me! Can I do it?” as partners in her work for the causes of Christ.
I am 46 now—not old but also not young. Perhaps now would be a good time to say “thank you.”