Friday, May 6, 2016

Close to Mom

For this is what the Lord says…
As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you….
-Isaiah 66:12-13 (NIV)

Mike Trout lives with his mother. But he’s decided it’s time to move out.
     It’s not really all that unusual for a 24-year-old to live at home. There’s a lot said these days about the lack of good jobs for young adults, so for a lot of 20-somethings living on your own isn’t economically feasible. Others are still in school, working on a college or graduate degree. Some, maybe, have chosen to live at home to help parents who have health problems or economic problems of their own. Living with your parents at 24 is really nothing to be ashamed of. 
     For Mike, though, it is unusual. He isn’t in school. His parents are fine. And Mike Trout does have a job. It is seasonal work, but it pays pretty well.
     You may have heard of him, even. 
     He’s an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He’s a four-time All-Star, two-time All-Star Game MVP, 2012 American League Rookie of the Year, and 2014 American League MVP.
     Not to mention the fact that he’s just entered the third year of a 6-year, $144.5 million contract. He’s set to make $15 million this year. So he thinks this is a pretty good time to move out. You know, now that he’s getting pretty self-sufficient.  
     So Mike bought a 300-acre farm. Not in Los Angeles, though. He’s really not interested in living a Hollywood life. Nope, his new home will be in Millville, New Jersey. Where he grew up. Just a few minutes from his mom. 
     I’m thankful to be able to say that I understand that impulse to stay close to your mom, close to your family, close to your home. I grew up in a family that was close, loving, nurturing. I’m thankful for a mom who put my sister and me first, always, who told us she loved us a lot but showed us even more. I’m thankful, too, that she didn’t smother us, or try to pull us back into the nest when it was time for us to leave. I’m thankful that she loves my wife and my son as much as she does me. 
     I moved 600 miles away, but that didn’t have to do with wanting to get away. It was because I knew that distance didn’t mean we couldn’t still be close. 
     So I’m thankful to be able to say that I understand the impulse to be close to my mom. There are a lot of people this Mother’s Day who can say that too, I’m sure. Even if they’re separated by distance, even (especially) if their mother has passed away, they understand the impulse to be close to her. If you’re in that category, be careful that you don’t take if for granted. It’s easy for those of us who have been so blessed to forget that not everyone understands the impulse to be close to their mother. There are many in our world, in fact, who would be downright puzzled by it. 
     There are those whose mothers treated them as though they were an inconvenience, an obstacle to the life they really wanted, told them in word and action that if only you hadn’t come along I could have had the life I was meant to have. Their mothers weren’t present for them in any real way, and they can’t fathom a world in which mother means anything more than the woman who gave birth to you.
     There are those whose mothers gave them up. Maybe for good reasons, maybe because they knew they couldn’t take care of a child, but who gave them up all the same. And maybe they were fortunate enough to find someone else who would be Mom to them, and maybe they have no resentment toward the woman who gave birth to them. Or maybe they still can’t understand why she’d leave them alone in the world. Either way, she’s not Mom, not really, and never will be.
     There are some for whom the roles of mother and child have been reversed as long as they can remember, some who have had to take care of their mothers, apologize for them, cover for them, clean up after them, wake them up, call 911 for them. Habits, addictions, have turned the relationship from one of closeness to one of codependency, at best. To escape from their mothers, in those cases, must seem far better than to be close.
   If you understand the impulse to be close to your mother this Mother’s Day, thank God for it. If you can, tell your Mom so as well. Tell her thank you for all she’s done for you, because you probably don’t know the half of it. Forgive her failures, and thank her and love her for what she’s done for you.
     If you don’t understand that impulse, then I hope you’ll understand the promise of God in Psalm 27: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” What you didn’t get from your mother, your God will provide. He has more than enough love and grace to make up for what you didn’t receive, and he will happily pour that love out in your life. 
     We often think of God as our Father, and rightly so. But, now and then, you get a glimmer in the Bible of God as our Mother as well. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” I think of the comfort my Mom has given me — the comfort of acceptance and kindness, the comfort of knowing that whatever is going on, she’ll be there for me, the comfort of her faith in me — and I understand what the prophet is getting at. I understand it when I think of the ways I’ve seen my wife comfort our son. I understand — understand doesn’t really cover it, does it? I know intuitively — why I should want to be close to God. And what I can expect from him if I live near him. 
     So whether you can be near your mother today or not, I hope you’ll know too that your God is not some angry deity to fear. He’s a God of comfort, and he wants us very much to live near him. Wherever you make your home, don’t go far from him.

     And thanks, Mom, for showing me so much about the God who comforts me, and for so often and so faithfully being the one through whom he comforted me. Happy Mother’s Day!

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