I often look for things to encourage me as a mother. I think I need a pep talk from older moms to keep going strong and see moms my age experiencing the same highs and lows as me to feel seen. I also look forward to my children and husband pampering me and saying, “I love you, Mom,” or “Good job, Mom,” for one day out of the year (not that they don’t do this every now and then).
However, this year, I want to think less of myself as a mother and think about my mother, especially since I can now relate to her in this special role.
As a kid and teen, I didn’t always honor my mother. Sometimes I disobeyed her by talking back to her, doing the opposite of what she asked of me, and by throwing fits in an attempt to get my way. I knew the fifth commandment of God was to honor her, and I wanted to obey God, given the fact he saved me at a young age. Yet, I failed over and over.
I like to think now that I’m grown, I’ve grown to honor my mother in the way that I should. Part of that is growing older, and the other part is growing more spiritually mature. Although I left childhood many years ago, my mother is still my mother, and I am still commanded to honor her (Ex. 20:12). As a kid and teen, the way to honor her was mostly through obeying her but honoring her looks different as an adult.
There are more ways to honor our mothers as adults, but here are three. We can…:
Talk Well of Her
We may treat our mother well in her presence only to talk bad about her behind her back. In this case, from the same mouth, we bless God and our mother at times, we curse our mother who is made in the image of God (James 3:10). It’s interesting to note that the Old Testament punishment for cursing mothers is the same for assaulting them (Exodus 21:15-17, Leviticus 20:9). This punishment is death. You curse your mother, you die. Although we no longer penalize this violation, we should take it seriously since violating this means we violate the law of God. Perhaps next time we think of saying an ugly comment about our mother, we should think of it as if we were about to slap her in the face. Would we do such a thing then? To take it a step further, when we “assault” our mother, who is made in the image of God and appointed by God as our mother, we should ask: How does this offend God?
Talk Respectfully to Her
Perhaps we speak well of our mother to others but talk disrespectfully to her. Again, we must go back to the God who gave the commandment to honor her. When we dishonor her, we dishonor God. Although we may be talking to her one-on-one, God sees how we speak—and text. Texting makes it easy to disrespect our mother since we can hide behind our screen and send a rash comment in an instant. Our mother carried us for nine months in her womb, undergoing sickness and back pain, and insomnia. She endured labor and gave birth to us. She, in many cases, raised us. We must fear God and speak respectfully to her.
Listen to Her
We often think we know everything, and then when we reach a point of desperation and confusion and want to hear what our mom would say. Our moms have been there and understand. Even if we choose to do things differently, we can listen to her and seek to understand her choices and the advice she gives. Not only that, but we can listen to what her needs are today. As adults, we now have the ability and some means to care for her in many ways. She may need help with something online or with planning a trip, or getting organized. She may feel disoriented with a recently empty nest or a new season of life, such as her husband’s retirement or an abundance of grandchildren. May we listen to her like the countless times she listened to us.
Not All Mothers Are Good Mothers
My mother was and is a godly woman. She took us to church faithfully. She visited with our elderly neighbors. I remember her taking us to nursing homes, hospitals, and homes for troubled teens. I remember her making meals for others in need and going with her to women’s Bible studies. She cared for me in sickness, giving me Sprite and chicken noodle soup while propped up in front of The Little Rascals playing. She signed me up for dance and piano lessons, and I have few memories of the house being untidy.
But not every mother loves God and cares well for her children. Some mothers abandon their children. Some become alcoholics, and the children are forced to grow up and take care of themselves. Others verbally abuse their children. My mother was one of the good ones, but she didn’t do it perfectly. No mother can. She did it well with the Lord’s help.
We’re still commanded to honor our mothers whether they deserve it or not. Even the best moms don’t deserve it all the time. To honor them doesn’t mean we elevate or accept their shortcomings or sins. We honor them for the role that God gave them. We esteem them because they are our mothers. Surely, by the grace of God, we can honor our mothers by talking well of them, talking respectfully to them, and listening to them. May he help us to honor our mothers.
P.S. I love you, Mom!