So I decided to sit down and write her a letter. I began by listing ALL the attributes I admire most about her and there was one word that kept flashing through my mind in bright, NEON letters:
SERVANT. SERVANT. SERVANT.
Something we learn quickly as moms is that Motherhood is Servanthood.
Motherhood is not a position of prestige and power.
Rather, it is a continual laying down of self for the purpose of lifting up another.
The life of a mother is characterized by humble and loving service.
Some of us transition to this role gracefully.
Others of us kick and scream, clinging to our right of self.
When I time travel back through my late 20's, college years, teenage years, elementary years, and early childhood I remember scene after scene where my mom humbly and lovingly served me.
The Pool Scene: Without a car at home during the day, she would walk 3 kids over a mile EVERY DAY of the summer to the community pool. While she pushed my sister in the stroller and carried multiple bags full of pool toys, towels, and other necessities, my brother and I would walk alongside her empty handed. Sweating and tired she faithfully laid herself down day after day so that we could swim.
The Church Scene: For nearly a decade, she taught Sunday School. For the past 25 years she has taught a women's Bible Study in her home. And since becoming a Christian in college, she faithfully gives of her time, energy, and resources in service to God through many different church ministries. My entire life I have watched her humbly and lovingly serve the body of Christ.
The Cedar Point Scene: One summer I took a trip with my friends to Cedar Point, the only problem being that none of us could drive. So my mom drove us all there and literally sat ALONE in the park for over ten hours while my friends and I ran around having the time of our lives. And if sitting in the park alone all day wasn't horrible enough, the local seagulls found it necessary to poop on her head. True story.
The "Whatever Renee Had To Do So She Didn't Miss Out" Scene: She served me day in and day out taking me to sports practices, dance class, friends' houses, the movie theater, stores, doctor's appointments, and to whatever happenin' social event I didn't want to miss. I was a busy baby, child, and teenager. I wanted to go places, be part of the action, and she kindly chauffeured and chaperoned.
The Nana (Grandma) Scene: And now in her 60's, dropping her To-Do's and responsibilities and selflessly watching my rambunctious children in order to give ME a break from servanthood.
I could describe scene after scene of her serving me and many others.
She has lived out a life of service by putting others first again, and again, and again.
She embodies the teachings of Jesus on this subject:
For He said,
"[w]hoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:43-45
To be a servant is an attribute of Jesus. To be a servant is absolutely counter-cultural in a society where we are taught that greatness is achieved when one has attained prestige and power.
Yet, as followers of Christ we and OUR CHILDREN are called to serve. And not just once, but over and over again. We are to live scene after scene in the trenches of servanthood.
For a life of discipleship to Christ is characterized by humble and loving service.
Thank you mom for the example you set for me.
Over the past 33 years I've seen through your life what it means and looks like to serve God first, others second, and myself last.
I can only pray that I too can obey God's call to servanthood and demonstrate this attribute to my own children.
And then I hope that they continue this legacy of servanthood in their own lives.
Friends, join me in prayer today and let's pray that our children love Jesus more than themselves and imitate Him by being willing to take on the very nature of a servant. [Philippians 2:7]
Jesus, You are the ultimate servant and so I pray today that you would instill in my children a willingness to serve others. I pray they would carry on this legacy of servanthood. I pray their discipleship toward you would be characterized by humble and loving service. I pray they would not pursue power and prestige as their culture encourages, but rather that they would be counter-cultural and serve others above themselves.