Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Am A Mother

   Nighttime is the only time I stop moving long enough to relax and turn the pages of whatever written words  I've carried to bed with me and once in a while I will stumble across a book that rattles one of the well guarded gates of my work-in-progress heart.
   Does that ever happen to you? You think that you've come a long way and that you have learned so much and have become so wise and that you should never have to go back and stumble down that same, worn  path ever again. You're already way ahead of where you used to be and you're looking ahead to see what's next......when God sets you up and you find yourself  in an unexpected yet familiar place.

  "Heaven Is Here" is the memoir of Stephanie Nielson who began sharing her joy-filled, picture perfect family life in 2005 with eager readers who followed her blog. She was an upbeat, candid  mother happily raising her four young children, madly in love with her husband, Christian, and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.

   All of that changed in an instant in August of 2008 when Stephanie and Christian were in a horrific plane crash. Christian was burned over 30 percent of his body. Stephanie's burns covered 80 percent and she was near death and in a coma for four months.

   The story became personal for me when this broken, forever scarred woman emerged from her coma and courageously took back the life she thought was lost. Not without intense pain, fear and doubt and multiple setbacks along the way, but with such dignity and love for her family that I couldn't help but look at my own journey to now and wonder about some long forgotten lessons learned.....all along the lines of  faith, beauty, and on being a mother.

   I love Stephanie's complete satisfaction in being a wife to her adored man and mother to her cherished children. She's honest and candid. Both roles come with hair pulling moments and the temptation the throw the humming hair-dryer in with her tub-soaking husband. But the big picture is this: being a wife and mother was the fulfillment of all of her girlish dreams and there was nothing else in this world, aside from her faith, that filled her up with as much pure joy and satisfaction.

   As a mother, I too have lost some hair and am tempted from time to time to throw in the towel.......or the hair dryer, whichever is closest. But how often do I recognize my great privilege and power and irreplaceable role as a wife and mother? It is far too easy for me to catch hold of the current culture which implies that I am just a keeper of my home. That I am not enough. And that someday I should get on with life.

   Maybe you don't go there. I know I'm a slow learner. But reading Stephanie's story awoke something in me. Something I already thought I had figured out. That being a mother is a beautiful thing. A position that makes use of the entirety of me. Every gift I have, and every talent and strength of character, is recognized in motherhood. Every flaw is also nicely framed for all to see as well, but what a great opportunity to know where you've been and where you need to go.

   Beauty is another theme laced into my trip down the lane of lessons yet to be learned.
    I love bracelets. I have three or four of them that I adore. They are sterling silver and I have not worn them for a long time. Honestly, I feel like they are too beautiful for me. I can't bring myself to slip them onto my wrist. They were meant to be worn by someone with features to compliment their beauty. To be combined with well manicured hands and a slender waist.
   Do I really believe that?
   Apparently so.
   The bracelets remain on my dresser and I do not have any desire to draw attention to myself with lovely jewelry. I'd rather hide.

   Reading Stephanie's story made my heart stop several times. She was a beautiful girl. She lost most of her facial features in the fiery flames of that crash. Her children were afraid to look at her. She refused even to look at herself. But in the end, her love for her family brought her out of her own misery and into the life she now lives, which just happens to be incredibly beautiful. She does the best she can with what she has left and leaves the rest to God. The flames that ravaged her face defined beauty for her in a whole new way.

   As a mother, as a woman, and certainly as a child of God, I am looking through a much clearer lens these days.

                                                     Happy Mother's Day!