I cry at the drop of a hat. It’s almost a game my kids play, when watching me open cards. Their sweet sentiments compete to see who can get me to cry the hardest. It doesn’t take much. I even cry at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies! And movies? Don’t get me started. Warrior, Enchanted, Finding Neverland, While You Were Sleeping….Who doesn’t love a good cry? But I think it’s the tender heart of many moms that brings forth the most heartfelt tears. Tears for those we love the most. We can’t help it. But I only remember my mom crying a few times. So few, I can count them. It didn’t make her less compassionate, or loving, it was just who she was. What she lived in war-torn Okinawa during her teen years shaped her. She was strong, resourceful, many times hard, she had to be, but always loving…in her own way.
Two of the most memorable times when her tears fell so hard, I remember thinking I’d never seen teardrops that big. One was when I was pregnant with my first child and someone had made an unkind, thoughtless comment as to my ability to be a mother. To be fair, I had lived a very self-centered party life, and I was a clueless young mother-to-be. Still, I held back my tears long enough to make it to the bathroom. Then the waterworks broke forth. But they were nothing compared to Mama’s tears when she walked through the door and enveloped me in her arms. Another thing I don’t remember her doing often. Although she received hugs heartily, she found it hard to reciprocate. She said her first grandchild, our oldest son, David, taught her how to hug. But that day in the bathroom, through wrenching sobs, she encouraged me in my forthcoming journey as a new mom and crushed the ill comments that hurt us both.
Another time, I caught her when her tears practically watered her garden. I drew the picture above, capturing the way I found her that day in her backyard. My second eldest son, Jonathan, had recently left to live in Japan as a missionary. It was because of Mama that he had such a strong desire to preach the gospel to the people of Japan, and she was so proud of him. Many years before, when he was eleven years old, he preached his first sermon for her when her mother had died in Okinawa, and she wasn’t able to be there. Soon after Jonathan departed, I went to visit Mama, me, and six of our kids still at home. Mama was gardening like she always did, but crying as she dug in the dirt. She missed Jonathan so much and feared she’d never see him again. There is a happy ending. She walked down the aisle at his wedding years later.
This Mother’s Day, many of us are feeling a little weepy for our moms, some recently gone, some long gone. The hurt eventually gives way to a bittersweet thankfulness to God, for the mothers we had on this earth. We also find joy in the promised hope that for those who believe, we will be reunited in heaven one day. I hope you’re blessed with sweet memories of the tears your mama shed for you. Both happy and sad. They say a lot about who she was. Whether or not they came freely, I think the Lord uses tearful memories to bring us to a place of submission, and holy grace in our lives. After all, there have been no greater tears than those shed by Jesus. Heartrending, anguished tears spilled for you and for me.