If you knew my mom, you would pretty quickly notice a few things about her. She can wander into any kitchen and wander out again with a stellar five-course meal. She writes amazing music; folk songs, lullabies, and astoundingly beautiful choir music for churches. And she is small but mighty. Even at 4’10” and 90 lbs she was a giant among those in the rural Rescue Squad where she served for many years, until last fall when she and my father moved to be near us in Atlanta.
Of course, my mom is amazing but not perfect. None of us are. (I mean, how else can you explain her keeping her house a balmy 77 degrees year-round?!) But on this Mother’s Day, I’m reflecting on my mom and the one thing in particular that she’s done for me for which I’m the most thankful.
From the very beginning of her adult life—as a wife and a mother—my mom made the conscious decision to be kind. Every day. No matter what.
I am so grateful for her decision because it could have turned out so differently. My mom was raised by parents who were wonderful in many ways—but her mother was quite critical. So my mom determined that she would not be. She decided that with her husband and with her children, she would have a soft heart and kind words and a truly loving demeanor. And she did. It was a conscious decision every day to be the type of person God was calling her to be with her family. Although there must have been moments she felt like she failed, my brother and I simply don’t remember them. Because overall, she overcame what could have been a destructive pattern from her mother and has truly been a person of loving kindness.
I am immensely inspired by this—especially since I know that I have not always made it easy for her to maintain that approach toward me! (I wince at the thought of my teenage years!) And yet she stuck with that choice. I think about how different a person I could have been if my mom had responded with a critical spirit rather than a kind one. I know for me as a mom, I struggle many days with an exasperated, stressed, bossy demeanor even though my kids are wonderful. How much harder would it be for me as a mom if I had not grown up with my mom’s amazing example?
My hope is that we can all recognize the need to draw that loving kindness from the source that my mom has always drawn it from—the loving presence and power of our Heavenly Father. Because being imperfect creatures, we cannot do this on our own.
So today I want to honor all of you moms out there who are just trying your best to make that conscious decision every day to be the mom God is calling you to be. Those of you who are waking up each morning and trying to be kind rather than snarky. Showing love even when a child is acting unlovable. Choosing a soft heart when it feels like the hardest possible choice at that moment. Asking forgiveness when we fail, and trying to get it right the next time. And doing it all over again tomorrow.
Those small, individual, moment-by-moment decisions add up to make a huge difference in the lives of your kids. I’m a testament to that. I promise, your children are being blessed by you today . . . and will be blessed by you in decades to come.
Happy Mother’s Day to my sweet mom. I love you so much.
And to all you amazing moms out there! Thanks for all you do. You are truly making an eternal difference. Check out Shaunti’s most recent devotional Find Peace: A 40-Day Devotional Journey for Moms.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Peace: A 40-day Devotional Journey For Moms, focuses on discovering biblical direction to become a woman of serenity and delight in all seasons – and have impact for generations to come.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.
This article was first published at Patheos.