Today as I sat at breakfast, sipped my espresso doppio and nibbled on grapefruit and honeydew melon I found myself pondering this passage of scripture:
” Forsake not the law of thy mother: for [it] shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Proverbs 1:8, 9 KJV).
I had seen it before, but today it had particular significance to me.
You see, I was revising my Mother’s Day celebration talk for the ladies at Subang Jaya Church of Christ in Malaysia, and my topic was “What Mothers Do for Us.”
As I reflected upon this verse in the light of Mother’s Day, I realised that (though I often do not acknowledge it) I have been blessed with many “graceful ornaments” because the many teachings mum lovingly imparted to me. It struck me to the heart when I realised how much I really owe to my mother, how much she put into raising me, and how much I owe my current happy situation to her guidance.
So, in honour of my mum on Mother’s Day, I want to share with you some valuable ideas my mum taught me that I have held onto as I have grown older – the ones that have helped to provide me with everything graceful and beautiful that I enjoy.
“Follow the winners.”
My mother often would point out to me good examples of successful living and tell me to follow those people. Conversely, she would also point out people in bad situations – explaining to me that if I did not want to be like them, I needed to watch them and see what behaviour had gotten them there in the first place.
This saying went hand in hand with another of her favourite sayings, “The proof is in the pudding,” or literally, “the end product will tell you if a course of action is worth taking in the first place.”
So incredibly true. This has been so incredibly useful in my life! I have avoided a lot of mistakes by evaluating the mistakes and successes of others!
Interestingly, about 2000 years ago Paul said something very similar:
“Join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17 ESV).
“We may never be rich or have everything we want because I am not working outside the home, but you are more important to me than any amount of ‘things.'”
This saying is as true as it is meaningful.
While I was growing up – particularly earlier on – we did not have a lot of things. I am often told of a time when I was happy to eat dry Weetbix (a hard, dry wheat cake Australians eat as cereal) as a snack because we could not afford anything else.
Even though we may not have always had the nicest and newest of things, what I did have was a mum who was always there for me. She was always there to talk to. I didn’t have to be afraid that she wouldn’t be there for me, that I would spend any time lonely, or that I would have to wait very long for an answer to any burning questions.
She was always there – always gracing the home with her sweet disposition and infectious laughter – always making the home a beautiful and pleasant place to be in.
She knew that devoting her time to passing on wisdom to us was far more important than providing us with fancy presents or gourmet food. She knew that wisdom was the best inheritance and protection for our future she could possibly give us.
I want to pass the same legacy onto my children.
“For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it” (Ecclesiastes 7:11 ESV).
“Do your best, don’t be stressed and God will do the rest.”
This saying was most memorable.
It stuck in my mind first of all because it seemed to become longer and longer as time went on. Slowly but surely were added onto the end of it all the positive and inspiring “-est” and “-essed” words my mother could possibly think of (“…and you’ll be blessed. And you won’t be stressed. And you’ll pass the test.” etc.).
Not only that, but it also perfectly illustrates how the centre of my mother’s parenting philosophy was God, His word and His providence. Everything came back to that. Every situation was an opportunity to teach about God’s word.
It also spoke to me that nothing mattered except doing my best. What was the point of worrying if I had done my best – or even could do nothing at all – to remedy a situation? All my worrying would come to nought. I would be much better investing my time, energy and mental space on something else.
Funny, I think Paul wrote about this one too:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).
My mum is not only charming and beautiful, but she also fears the Lord and has done her part to pass on that fear to us; she is worthy of praise (Proverbs 31:30).