Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What to do when you're not your mother (or your father)

I like pretty things. There. I admit it. That's no surprise to those who know me. I get that from my mom.

Growing up, I tried to be like my mom and like the things my mother liked in clothes, decor, and social interactions. Yet I consistently fought off things that were feminine and frilly. I was impatient with her attention to detail. It's still not my style to dress up and put on makeup, though it's become my habit (after a lecture from women I trust: "Your makeup isn't for you. It's for those of us who have to look at you all day long." Ha ha. I got the point.)

I eventually gave up and realized I'm not my mom. I've learned a lot from her but I'm more like Dad. That's not a bad thing, eh, Dad? But once in a while - even today - I wish I were more like my mother.

Classic 1960s French roll
My mom kept her house in perfect order. She still works like a slave to dust and cook and clean. She actually likes doing laundry and finds ironing soothing. She's kept Dad's clothes spotless and pressed so he looks sharp. (Sure, once in a while he escapes in his flannel plaid shirts to his workshop.)

Mom dressed up. Always. Her hair was twisted in a French bun, immaculately held in place by a few bobby pins and hairspray. We all wore our "Sunday best" to go to the doctor's or dentist. Mom attired my brothers in little suits for church. She sewed amazing dresses for me, many of which I disliked because the colors and patterns didn't feel good to me. Even then, I knew what I liked, right, Mom?

I look at those photos of us as a family, beautifully decked out in the current fashions - and admire my mom. She has classic taste with her own chic twist. She was always in style, trendy and fashionable in minis in her 30s and early 40s. (Those were the 1970s, after all.) And she has classic beauty today, in her 70s.

I'm as happy in jeans and ugly sweatshirts as I am dressed to the nines. (Maybe happier.) I don't care much if my hair is cooperating or not. I cut it myself in the shower, where I can feel the wet shape I'm sculpting. I look in the mirror in the morning and hope for the best thereafter, ignoring the huge mirrors throughout my home and office that reflect light and space.

I've wished I were more like my mother when I've given in to my natural inclination and find myself ignored by customer service: "She's plain." To me, "What do you want?" Yup, it makes a difference to show up fully armed for retail with makeup and decent clothes.

My mom's special on the inside, too. She loves God and seeks to follow him closely. She's friendly, kind, and a caring servant. SHE has the gift of mercy and not an enemy in the world, the peacemaker in her family and among her confidants.

Me? Not so much. I often ask myself, "What would Mom do?" when I feel like rushing into war with a battle cry, as is my inclination. Ok, I admit I'm not always good at asking that ... and find myself and others bloodied around me. Lord have mercy!

How can we benefit from knowing others with admirable traits that we don't have ... without becoming envious or feeling belittled?
  1. Keep admiring. You become what you behold. (Or you get closer, anyway.)
  2. Thank God for that person and pray for them. That way you add to their strength rather than comparing yourself unfavorably.
  3. Learn every lesson you can. Imitate the good in others to grow stronger yourself.
  4. Believe and rejoice in a God who loves variety. He made me different than Mom "because you have a different job to do," as she's told me more than once.
  5. Live as yourself. God lavished his loving creativity on us; we have unique abilities, experiences, and momentum to live large and beautifully in our own life and space.
  6. Look around to see who you can boost, people like you and not like you.
 Who's your hero? Whom do you admire?

Mom, you're definitely high on my list. Love you! and I still want to be like you, even in my 50s.

Read more:
*When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 18:9-13

*Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:15-17

*... our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7

1 comment:

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