Push fear aside. Love.

ashley_blog-momToday, August 18th, 2015, would have been my mom’s 67th birthday if it were not for an enemy of her health, one that we all know much too familiarly. Cancer. Mom fought bravely through one round of it, but the second was just more than she could stand. Mom was exhausted. She was in pain. And based on the hundreds of people in attendance at her funeral, she had done enough.

Mickey

As I progress through this adventure of moving to San Salvador for full-time youth ministry, I often wonder if my mom would be proud of me. Would a smile grace her cheeks as she revealed to someone that her daughter is moving to a foreign country to become a missionary? Would she brag to her closest friends,  “Well, Ashley is hoping to leave in a few months for Central America to work with the teenagers there. She has such a gift for working with young people – she gets that from me, obviously!” Would her Facebook wall be covered in updates on my move and posts sharing my blog updates? (The woman learned to text T9 style on a flip phone. Facebook would have been no problem for her)

Or

Would she be so scared for my safety that every conversation we had would somehow be themed around convincing me that I should not move to San Salvador and that I could be just as happy in Columbus and serve God just as thoroughly through Rock City Youth? Would she roll her eyes and change the subject everytime a friend brought up my impending departure? Would articles about the dangers of San Salvador await me at my place at the family dinner table?

I know that what my Father in Heaven thinks of my mission work supersedes what my family here in the world thinks. But I love making my parents proud. There have been few happier moments in my life than when I overhear my parents singing my praises to their friends and our family. Mom spent the entire day beaming with joy when we celebrated my college graduation. She was so proud when I got my first teaching job! I was following in her footsteps in the education field. But there have also been few moments as anxiety-filled as when I know I have let my mom down. Math tests often earned C’s, which led to tear-filled, “I SWEAR I studied!” phone calls in the middle school lobby. Quitting the high school rowing team mid-season was most certainly not an option because I had made a commitment to  my team. My career in teaching went on as long as it did partly because when I considered quitting, the look on my mom’s face when I showed her my above average score on my teaching licensure exam has been emblazoned in the back of my memory.

My mother’s name was Lois, and in the Bible, a woman named Lois is only briefly mentioned once. It is in a letter from Paul, one of Jesus’ disciples, to Timothy, Paul’s closest friend.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. {2 Timothy 1v5-7}

Lois and Eunice were a mother/daughter team raising Timothy to love and serve God. They succeeded in nurturing a young man who would grow up to build churches, strengthen the faith of new believers and take care of Paul’s needs while he was imprisoned in Rome.

As I spend today honoring my mom’s memory through smiles, laughter, and a few tears, I realize that she absolutely would be proud of me. Like the Lois of the bible, Mom was raising a child of God and  “fanning into flames” my spiritual gift of ministering to teenagers. She would encourage me to be brave and to see this thing through with perseverance. I know without a doubt that she would also be scared out of her mind. I am going to a country she knew nothing about with people she had never met. Even so, Mom would set aside her fear of the unknown for the love of the unseen. She would rest on her most important lesson as a mother – loving another person, especially a young person, is one of the most important things a person can, and must, do.

That love has the ability to persuade a child to know that they are seen. They are not walking through life under a cloak of invisibility.

That love has the ability to sustain a teenage life for precious hours into years.

That love has the ability to demonstrate to a person that if I can see you and love you as much as I do, you can’t even begin to imagine how much your father in heaven loves you.

That love was Lois Elaine – my mom and my biggest admirer. Would she be proud?

Abso-freakin-lutely.

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My first day of high school – 1999

 

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