It is that time of year again when many families’ schedules are packed with back-to-school shopping sprees and meet-the-teacher events— when young mamas’ hearts are torn as they send their babies off to kindergarten and seasoned mothers’ memories are relived as they drive by playgrounds and bus stops. A bittersweet busyness commences for educators, and everyone searches for a new routine. The mind of a mother is wrought with concern, yet her peace comes from knowing she is equipped to instruct her children with the guidance of the One she submits her soul’s care to. As she is sanctified and grows in holiness and knowledge of God’s faithfulness, her children reap the benefits. Together, they are aligning their hearts to the teachings of Jesus as they encounter inevitable lessons in life.
In my school years, I studied under impactful teachers and professors—the kind of humans who not only care about their students learning material, but who are also passionate about guiding young minds and building character. It is often a thankless job. Though I developed many valuable relationships with educators in my past, I am most struck by the gift of teaching exemplified by my own mother. I admit that in adolescence I did not cherish the “lessons” as I do now, but one of the takeaways motherhood has given me (among many) is to cherish the privilege of giving my time, talents, and treasures to patiently planting seeds of wisdom that will bear fruit in the years to come.
My novel experience of motherhood gives me an evolving perspective of my own mother as my beloved teacher. The many facets of her ability to teach, in the classroom and beyond, never cease to impress me. My mother was my constant companion throughout the frequent relocations of my childhood. When she sacrificed her time to educate me and my younger brother at home, she led us in bookending each school day in prayer. She fostered our imaginations by telling us stories—reading C.S. Lewis and pretending my brother’s closet was Narnia. We cooked meals together and wrote letters to cherished pen-pals. During that sweet season of life, my mother also committed to welcoming a kind Japanese family with weekly visits that included teaching them English. As our relationship with these wonderful friends grew, my mother taught us the importance of embracing new neighbors and valuing different cultures. They taught us (a young, Pennsylvanian family transplanted in Texas) about genuine hospitality and how friendship transcends language-barriers. These examples are only a fraction of the ways my mother illuminates the light and love of Christ.
We see in the Scriptures that Jesus spoke to his disciples in parables. They referred to him as Rabbi—meaning Teacher—and he tended to them as a Shepherd tends his flock. The grace and patience my mother exudes in her teaching reminds me of that shepherding—the amazing, tender-hearted guidance of Jesus, our timeless Teacher who is the master Storyteller and Savior of mankind. Her self-sacrifice and model of Christlikeness has undoubtedly made me who I am today. I can only pray that I might become half the woman, mother, and teacher she is as I continue this sanctifying journey into motherhood. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus proclaims to his disciples, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” My mother joyfully proclaims this lesson in how she walks through life. I am learning that the lessons I teach my daughter—although, outside of a classroom—are building character and sowing seeds into eternity. What a sacred privilege to tend the hearts and minds of those we love as our Heavenly Father does the same for us.
It’s that time of year when I’m reminded to be grateful for the lessons that sharpen me and to treasure the growth that comes from the inevitable growing pains. Motherhood itself is sanctifying and we are refined through the ways we pour into our families. It can feel like the examples we hope to set or the lessons we seek to teach are strangled by weeds and pierced by thorns in the midst of growth. As children of God with the earthly role of “mother” we have the beautiful burden of teaching our own children how to walk in the light while we are learning to do the same. Some days, motherhood brings the biggest smiles; others, the deepest heartaches. But, if we wish away the seasons that shape us, then we devalue integral pieces of our soul’s sanctification. What a praise it is that we have the assurance of a divine Teacher who patiently walks with us through every lesson and equips us to navigate future changing seasons. May this be a truth that we hold onto in every season as we face new challenges with eyes on eternity and the blessed hope that the light of a new day offers.