My wonderful mom went home to be with the Lord on May 17, 2016. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so many tears before in my life. In the midst of many thoughts and feelings in those early days after her death, I was primarily reminded of what is most important in life.
Mom and Dad moved in to our in-law apartment in 2012. As I’ve said before, my selfishness was confronted in major ways as I adjusted to meeting so many of their needs. My time was greatly infringed upon.
As Mom’s condition deteriorated, she required more and more of my time. She was bed-ridden the last 4 ½ months, and one of us needed to be home with her 24/7. That duty fell mainly to me, especially since Jim was in the midst of a busy ministry traveling season. Because of that, I had to lay down a lot of my agenda. I was constantly thinking: I want to go shopping. I want to meet a friend for coffee. I want to go here. I want to go there. Then I would have to remind myself that I could not freely come and go as I chose. In other words, I had to say, “No!” to self. Initially I chafed against that reality, but it became easier and easier as I realized that Mom would not be with us forever and that this was just for a season.
When she finally went into the arms of Jesus, I realized how trivial my desires had been. Even though I was now free to do so, I no longer had a desire to go browse at my favorite store. Neither did the many services I had missed at church matter any longer. Everything paled in comparison to the knowledge that I had done what was important and had been there for my mom.
I am very selfish by nature. Some people are naturally nice and “others-centered”, but I was always very “me” centered. That selfish nature was confronted in a major way when I married Jim. It got dealt with in greater measure when we had children. And it was whittled away even further as we cared, first, for Jim’s mom, and, now more recently, for my parents. As hard as it’s been, that has been a very good thing.
One of the major ways our selfish nature gets put to death is by confronting the use of our time. That is one of the greatest challenges of motherhood: our time is no longer our own. Jesus, a supreme example of a life laid down, epitomized the surrender of time and personal agenda. Over and over again Jesus and His disciples tried to retreat after a demanding day of ministry, only to have the crowds ask for more. Ignoring the appeals of His disciples to turn the crowd away, Jesus would always receive the people and minister to their needs.
This is all to say, dear mother, that the laying down of your time and agenda in the care of your children is very valuable in the eyes of God. Not only is it accomplishing the death of your flesh and making you more like Jesus, it is also causing you to focus on that which is truly important. All those other things you long to do can wait. (That is not to say you shouldn’t get breaks or be able to do things you enjoy! You need those things.) Remember, though, that this season of caring for your children will pass—it is only a season. Later, you will look back and be truly grateful for all the time you did spend with your kids. You will realize that you gave your life to that which is truly important.
PS: Today I want to honor an amazing woman: Shelley Altmeyer. She is pictured here with her husband Randy and their two sons with their beautiful wives: Jonathan & Karissa (left) and Caleb & Sarah (right.) Ten days after their five-month wedding anniversary, Randy and Shelley were in a car accident that left her a quadriplegic with limited use of her hands. She defied the odds and later gave birth to her two boys. Due to God’s amazing grace and Shelley’s determined personality, she undertook their care. Her faithful prayers also helped bring Caleb out of a place of rebellion against God in his teenage years into a place of full-time ministry now. Far from allowing circumstances to make her full of self-pity and anger, she is full of joy and the love of God which she freely pours out on all those around her. We bless you, Shelley, and stand with you in faith as you continue to believe for the miracle of healing!