Meanest Mom Ever
That night my mom was the meanest, most unreasonable mom a girl ever had to put up with. She had usually been fun to talk to about boys I had crushes on or who had crushes on me. But that night she morphed into an ice monster. A generation gap threatened us.
A very cool and very cute guy had just asked me to our high-school winter dance. Not quite fourteen, I knew my parents had said I wasn’t allowed to date till sixteen. But this called for an exception. An all-school dance!
I begged and pleaded.
She only explained the rules again.
I cried. She shook her head and tried to hug me. The nerve!
I explained how special this guy was. She reminded me how young I was and said I would have more opportunities later.
I called her out as a hypocrite.
Reminding her that she herself had started dating at thirteen, I showed her how unfair she was being by denying me the fun she had experienced.
Her story was that she and her young boyfriends has been too young to even enjoy themselves properly and had even needed to be driven places by parents. Lame.
But my guy friend was 17 and had a car, so I knew we wouldn’t have those issues.
Besides, I knew I was very mature for my age and would be just fine.
After far too long, I finally admitted defeat.
Crying longer in my bedroom, I decided to write in my journal. Two long pages. How mean my mom was. That I was going to be much more understanding when I had a daughter someday. I just could not understand how a perfectly normal mom could become so unreasonable all of a sudden.
The generation gap threatened to win.
After hours of crying, I had a tough time sleeping. Waking up to hugely swollen red eyes did NOT improve my mood.
I wore my big, floppy, purple hat to school, so at least from a distance people would not be able to see what a wreck I was. But that didn’t help with talking to my guy friend. He could still see how ugly I looked.
I didn’t have to work to convince him how bad I felt at having to say no to him. He could see evidence of my tears.
What surprised me was that he told me he respected me for respecting my parents’ decision. He said he knew many girls would have just arranged a sleepover at a friend’s house.
He also told me he would come back when I was sixteen. I knew that was crazy, since he wouldn’t even be in high school then. But he did. We remained friends, and years later we went out a few times.
But the most amazing thing is how God worked through that event. Much later, when I was in college, he stopped at my parents’ house and told them how much he appreciated my leading him to Jesus. He wanted to thank them and me for what that meant to him.
My parents were surprised and called me to ask me why they had never heard. Because I had never known!
In church planting, my dad had always taught us not to share our faith across genders because of the danger of people experiencing the love of God as romantic love.
So I had certainly never set out to make a gospel presentation to him as such. But obviously God worked in that moment through my actively owning my faith and obeying my parents, even in my anger. My friend later attributed his new faith to me. Crazy.
The funny thing is that I had never even thought of trying to lie my way past my mom. Obviously, she and my dad had established a clear rationale for why we obey parents: as a means of reflecting the integrity of the God we serve.
My mom’s walking her faith with me crushed the generation gap.
And God used an event my young self temporarily thought of as one of the worst in my life to bring someone to faith in him. Amazing!
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A few years ago in a gorgeous mountain setting, the contrast between God’s grandeur and our human neediness struck me.
We were vacationing with a young family with charming children. All of us were excited to be together and were loving the surroundings. Then the oldest daughter confided her fear of death for herself and for her parents. Her sudden feelings of neediness surprised me.
A few minutes before, she had been happily swinging and loving being outdoors. But the coming nightfall brought to her mind her recurring nightmares.
Her nightmares repeatedly told her that she was going to die and be punished. This little girl had committed her life to Jesus and was regularly reading her children’s Bible. But Satan was still planting fears and doubts in her mind.
Having recently lost my beloved mother-in-law to death, I was able to share with this little one the power of knowing that my loved one is currently in heaven with Jesus.
I told her how much I still missed Mom and that many people do, but that Mom is now forever happy with Jesus. My little friend loved the image of happiness after death.
I reminded her of Revelation 3: 20. Jesus tells us, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
I reminded her that she had asked him into her heart. She could trust Jesus that he would keep his promise.
I also told her the story of my experience of neediness and fears when I had been about her age.
My best friend’s mom, a good friend of our family, had died after being confined to a wheelchair for many years with rheumatoid arthritis.
I had been distraught. Inconsolable. My parents had repeatedly shared encouragement and verses from scripture, but I just had not been able to take comfort from them. My emotional neediness took center stage.
Then God gave me a dream.
In my dream I saw Aunty Libby walking toward me with a glowing face and a look of indescribable joy. Not only was she walking, but she looked healthy in a way I had never seen her in life.
I was so excited that I ran to her, calling her name. She did not hear me but continued walking forward with an ecstatic look on her face.
When I turned to look at what she was walking toward, I saw indescribable beauty. The only way I can attempt to describe it is that I saw a very bright light that was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.
I threw myself down on the ground in awe. Obviously I was way too young to have read anything about people at the end of life seeing bright lights, or people lying face down in worship. But somehow that’s what I experienced.
When I woke up and saw my family at breakfast, I was so excited: “Aunty Libby’s in heaven! Aunty Libby’s in heaven!”
My parents expressed surprise, since they had both been working unsuccessfully to convince me of that. God had seen my stubborn disbelief in my grief and had reached out to give me a dream to illustrate his truth and answer my neediness.
That dream forever canceled any fears I could have of death. The pain of suffering before death can still cause dread, but death itself has always seemed a wonderful transition ever since that dream.
I shared this dream with my little friend and read her some of the description of the New Jerusalem from Revelation 21.
She was comforted. But what seemed to strike her most was my actual happiness that Mom is now in heaven. That though I still miss her, I rejoice for her.
My little friend’s face lit up as she heard my stories. She said, “I don’t think I’m going to have nightmares anymore. But will you still pray with me before bed?”
From then on, I prayed with her every night–that Satan would not disturb her sleep. Every morning she excitedly told me that she had slept so well with “NO NIGHTMARES!”
She practically danced into the breakfast room. And I was grateful that God had shown his power in canceling her fears and giving her joy. His unconditional love for us is amazing.
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Sitting on the beach playing with my twenty-two-month-old grandson, I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness.
This is a baby who was prayed for long before he was even conceived and who came into the world with much trauma. Just before his birth I had also experienced trauma with my back injury and surgery. Now the two of us can sit together on the beach and play for hours. I felt so strongly that God is good.
With my heart overflowing, I said aloud, “God is so good, little one. He has blessed me so much by you.”
His immediate response was, “God is good.”
I was startled and then even teary eyed as he repeated it over and over. At this point he had spoken very few sentences in his life.
Obviously, a little one knows when he has hit on something that pleases an adult. So he said it probably a dozen times, and I repeated it with him, as we continued to play. My joy increased.
But what surprised me just as much was his saying it hours later, while he was eating and listening to the adults talk. His mother was talking about something great that had just happened, unrelated to him.
Our toddler’s nonchalant “God is good” surprised us all.
It is so true in general and fit perfectly as a commentary on the conversation. Even though his mother had not mentioned God in that particular conversation, she tells him regularly about God’s love for all of us. She has taught him to add into their prayers together people and things he is thankful for.
He is learning—before he can fully talk—both the goodness of God and the reality of Jesus Christ in his life. It amazes me how God works in our children before we can even know they understand.
We know that adults sometimes come to know Jesus through sudden commitments and radical changes in their lives. But children—and even most adults—usually come to know Jesus gradually, a bit at a time. We have no idea how early they come to know the reality of Jesus Christ in their lives.
My dad—a church planter—always said most people come to faith in Jesus sort of like the opening of a rose. As we come to most relationships. Some people fall into a “It feels like we’ve known each other for years” relationship, but most develop friendships gradually over time.
So it is with our walk with Jesus.
Though we know that “God is good” from the mouth of a toddler is not a dramatic conversion experience like that of Saul of Tarsus, we know it shows God is working. It also shows the importance of little comments we make around them without much thought.
As our late Pastor Norm Meyer said repeatedly, even on the day he told the congregation he was dying of bone cancer, “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.”