Precious Lessons

Mom left Toronto early this morning for L.A. And right at the moment when we hugged and kissed good-bye at the airport, it suddenly hit me how much I missed her already.

The past 10 days were very special for us, because we rarely have such a big block of time to spend together anymore. And unlike in Singapore, when Mom’s so busy that us spending huge amounts of time together meant stressful and frantic catching up of work for her, she was truly relaxed in Toronto.

On the drive back from the airport today, I teared as I realized just how much Mom has done for me during her visit. Every opportunity she had, she was teaching me something even when we were fooling around and laughing. About taking care of my health. About managing a home. About being considerate to and loving my housemates. About work. About faith. About life.

I cried even harder when I realized anew how much she must miss me, think of me and worry for me when we’re apart. But she never ever tells me that she’s worried about me, because she wants me to feel free to try my own wings, and to discover for myself what she already believes that I can do.

She told me that she’s been preparing to let go of me ever since I was a baby, because she’d discerned from her own observation that most parent-child relationship problems stem from a parent being unwilling or unable to let go. So, though in different ways, she’d been practising letting go of me ever since I was a child. She constantly reminded herself that she must help me learn to exercise my own will and make my own choices, rather than imposing her will in my life.

In the course of my life, I must have hurt my mother so many, many times. Times when I lose patience with her. Times when I fail to understand her. Times when I chose to spend time with friends or activities so much that I neglect her needs. And I only just made the startling realization today that other than gentle reminders to put God first in my life, and to put others before myself, my mother practically never complained. In fact, even with those gentle reminders, it was always for somebody else. With regard to my conduct towards her, she never complained, not even when I hurt her.

Once, when I was around 13 years old, I was so angry with my mother for what I had perceived to be a deception, that I refused to speak to her for a full 3 days. I was so angry and hurt that I was blind to her own graver suffering in the matter, and to the fact that the ‘act of deception’ had been completely for my protection.

It was only fairly recently that my mother brought that incident up again. And even when she did, it was with such a light tone that there wasn’t even a hint of reproach. But now when I think of it, my heart wrenches with the knowledge of how much my action must have cut her. How could it be that even in her own suffering she could give me space to express my anguish in such a hurtful way? And when I misunderstand her and reject her, she suffers silently with love and hope, believing that God will somehow set things right. Inevitably, I eventually see the truth. And every time it happens, I am amazed, humbled, and inspired by her great love and faith.

It strikes me now, though, that my mother’s marvelous love for me is yet still only a small and imperfect reflection of God’s perfect love. The God who, as Father, sent His only Son to be rejected and murdered by the very people He desired to save. The God who, as Son, loved us so completely that He willingly chose to suffer and die for a people that, even now, keeps rejecting Him. The God who loves me so much that He allows me to go astray in my life so that I will learn that I truly belong to Him, and that my heart is ever restless until it rests in Him.

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I can’t help wanting also to express how grateful I am for how much my mom loves Zibin, and how well Zibin also loves her. They love each other really like mother and son, just like they tell me. In fact, sometimes I feel that Zibin’s thoughtfulness and consideration for my mother puts me to shame!

I don’t as yet have a servant’s heart. I have too much pride, am too self-centered, and have too little patience. Please, Lord, help me to become more like You!

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