To My Mama on Mother's Day {Surprised by Grace}

To My Mama, my hero in the faith and life: 

With each year and this past year especially I have grown in gratitude for you. You may remember this story. It embodies so much of what I want to say thank you for today. 

This brand new 16-year old driver was relishing in the privledge of cruising to high school in the family minivan. You either read me the riot act about speeding and what would happen in the event of an accident, or I assumed it. Either way, I drove with fear and trembling and full conviction that any sort of driving infraction would conclude my driving career. 

On that particular day, I decided to stop at the car wash on my way home to surprise you and thank you. I carefully entered the narrow L-shaped driveway with the carwash building on my left. I rounded the corner to find enough cars waiting that I decided it warranted trying the neighboring carwash. My impatience would be costly. I threw it in reverse, carefully watching over my left shoulder to ensure I did not come in contact with the brick building. As I cranked the steering wheel hard to the left, I heard a fateful scraping sound, the very opposite of music to one's ears.  I pulled forward as if there were a miracle chance it might undo what had just been done.  All I heard was the same fateful sound repeated.

I got out to inspect only to find my worst fears confirmed. I had failed to notice a 2-foot tall yellow post that was now permanently imprinted on the front right fender and bumper of the family minivan. 

My eyes went wide with horror as my mind was flooded with one thought: "My mom is going to kill me." 

A vehicle pulled in behind me blocking my exit and forcing me to exercise the patience I had initially lacked. There was nothing to do but sit and think about what I had done. 

"Maybe it's not as bad as it seems," I hoped. "Once the van is clean, maybe it won't be as noticeable."

As the dirt and grime from the van disappeared down the drain, so did my hopes of the damage also disappearing. The sparkling clean van made the damage look even worse and more noticable than I originally thought.

I contemplated not going home. Perhaps the van and I can just disappear. Then no one will notice the damage. My escape plan was short-lived once I remembered I had limited gas and funds. It was time to go home and face the music. 

On the short drive I rehearsed what I was going to say to you and anticipated every possibility: grounded for life, never driving again or perhaps never seeing the light of day again. 

I parked and enjoyed the few steps toward the house in the sunshine in case they were my last. As I opened the door, the tears burst forth like water breaking through a dam and I dreadfully called out, "Mom?" Hearing the sorrow in my voice, you rushed around the corner. 

Through my uncontrollable tears I sobbed, "The van.... I ruined it." I managed a few more words: post, carwash, damaged, I'm sorry.

I braced myself for your response.

You hugged me first and then said, "Are you okay?" 

The surprise of not being dead stopped me dead in my tracks. Where was the wrath? Where was the heap of guilt? Where was the promise of never sitting behind the wheel again?  

Paralyzed by shock, I managed to ask, "You're not mad?"

You laughed. Then you said something like, "It looks like you feel bad enough already. The dread of having to tell me was probably punishment enough."

I blinked back my tears completely and utterly surprised by grace. 

On this Mother's Day I would like to say: 

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Thank you for whatever you did that made me slightly afraid of you. As I've gotten older and seen the depth of sin that resides in my heart, I ponder the foolishness I might've been capable of had I not been afraid of breaking rules. There is no telling what else I might've crashed into and the rippling consequences I might still be experiencing today. The fear kept me close to the straight and narrow. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Reverent fear of parents was a tangible prestep to reverent fear of God. If you could bottle it and sell it, you'd make a killing. (I'm joking of course.) 

Thank you for labouring to ensure I obeyed you. God only knows what I'd be into if you'd tired of disciplining me.  Had I not learned to obey as a strong-willed toddler, obeying God as a strong-willed adult would be even more difficult than it is. With each passing year of raising my own children, my appreciation for the consistency and godliness you demonstrated in parenting grows deeper and deeper. 

Thank you for loving, living and leading by example. From spending daily time with God, to sharing Jesus, to humbly apologizing when you would get angry, to living generously when we had nothing extra, to labouring for people to know Him, to never complaining about people in front of me (or ever for all I know), to surprising me with grace, to selflessly serving...  you have embodied so much of what it means to follow Jesus.    

Thank you for grace. The hug that day, the investment in me, the countless nights praying for your children to know and love Jesus, the forgiveness of shortcomings, fielding my own crying phone calls over parenting blunders... I will truly need eternity to express adequate thanks to Jesus first, and to you for all the grace in my life. 

Thank you for making me pay. Grace and truth were alive and well that day. Truthfully, my next minimum wage paycheck went to pay for parts and paint (thankfully dad gave me the family rate for his labour) because my actions still had consequences. But graciously, you didn't top off the natural consequences with extra doses of condemnation. You showed me that condemnation is not necessary for one to experience consequences. 

The other day the bigs thought they were hilarious in calling me Stephanie. I said, yes that's my name. That's what everyone else calls me. But only you get to call me mom. 

On this day, I am so thankful for call you my mama. I love you more with each passing Mother's Day. 

Only by grace, and with so much love, and still trying to be like you when I grow up...