For Mother’s Day this year, I decided to honor my dear mother with more than just a few words scratched onto a card, or a Facebook post that fades into oblivion after a few hours. Though I may do those things too. 🙂
Before I get too far, I should clarify that “Vive” is her title more than “mother,” attributable to a childhood language devised by my brother that allowed us to speak in thinly veiled code as teenagers. So I will refer to her as Vive.
We are all a product of our upbringing, to some extent. The way our parents raise us, and the attitudes and outlooks they have, shape how we turn out, like it or not.
That is not to say we are static creatures who are helpless to be individuals apart from our parents’ influence. That is clearly not the case. We are all unique, shaped by not only our past but how we choose to navigate our present and future. We can all probably point to more than one person who either rebelled against the way they were raised or perhaps recognized the toxicity of it and chose a different path through deliberate effort.
By what I can only attribute to the grace of God, I was born into a family with two parents who not only cared enough to raise me right, but their behaviors, values, and attitudes were and are worth emulating.
When I read Proverbs 31, the Bible passage describing a godly woman, I think of Vive. She comes from a long line of God-fearing family members. Again by God’s grace, she embraced that tradition and prayerfully passed it on to my brother and me.
It must have felt like a long, uphill battle for her at times, shaping two little sinners into people that she hoped would eventually be worthwhile students, friends, Christ-followers, employees, and spouses (and parents, in my brother’s case).
Once I was an adult, Vive shared with me that to get the tools she needed to raise us effectively, she sought wisdom from God in prayer, study of the Word, and resources such as parenting radio programs. I witnessed her doing all those things growing up, but didn’t realize their full value until later in life.
Our childhood home was full of love, acceptance, and encouragement. I have no doubt that the self-confident, independent adult I turned out to be is rooted in my upbringing. I was repeatedly told that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to in life.
Our home was also full of discipline and structure.
The following non-negotiables I did not necessarily appreciate at the time, but I surely see their value now.
- We went to church every Sunday, wearing our Sunday best
- When we disobeyed, we were punished. Every time.
- When we sassed or talked back, we were rebuked
- We were given very strict limits on how much TV we could watch and how much junk food we could consume (the latter was more of a concern to me)
- Our music purchases (cassettes!) were commandeered, previewed and edited to remove objectionable content
- We were tasked with helping with household chores.
Grown-up confession: in retrospect, I think our chore load was too light. My parents carried the brunt of the work; I could have done a lot more, and developed a more robust work ethic sooner in life. It wasn’t until I failed at a few teenage jobs and grew in Christian maturity that my work ethic blossomed to an acceptable level.
- We ate dinner, at the table, together as a family every night. We were not allowed to have the TV on or answer the phone – no interruptions or distractions
These things helped shape the values I now hold, and hope to pass on if I have kids.
As we grew older, Vive encouraged us to help in a ministry at church to give back, as we benefited from the ministry of the church our whole lives. This encouragement fell mostly on deaf ears for many years (speaking for myself only). I’m pretty sure Vive patiently prayed for us, that we would “see the light” and turn a corner from the selfish ways of our youth.
Through God’s work in my life, through the prayers of Vive and others, as well as the influence of various godly people along the way, it finally sunk in for me.
I remember her always taking the time to listen to my struggles in the drama-filled teenage years. She would not only listen patiently, but would offer wise counsel on how to work through my various interpersonal challenges. As a teenage girl, there were plenty of them. 🙂 She continues to offer me wise counsel to this day.
I could go on indefinitely about the wonderful qualities of Vive. But in the interest of being more succinct, I will summarize. She worked very hard to raise us right, show us love and guide us in the Truth. She lived our her faith (and continues to) for us to see. She is a fabulous role model.
To wrap up, here are a few verses from Proverbs 31 that are very fitting for Vive:
v. 20: “She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.”
v. 25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.
v. 26: “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
v. 27: “She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
v. 28a: “Her children rise up and bless her” (YES!)
Happy Mother’s Day, to my most wonderful Mother, Susan Hamilton. I love you with all my heart and am grateful to be able to call you “Vive”. 🙂