The Other Mothers

With Mother’s day approaching, it seems like I ought to write a mother’s day tribute of some sort. Whatever your position in life, there is one common thread that binds us all together: Every one of us has a mother.

My mother died as a result of kidney disease when I was 15. I was closer to my mother than to anyone else in the whole world at that time, and her loss left a big hole in my heart that is still there today. Most of you understand that heartache on some level. There’s a connection between mother and child that transcends human relationships. Even if you had a lousy relationship with your deceased mother, you’ve got the same sort of heart-hole. If your mother is still alive, you probably know the anxiety of being separated from her for the first time, whether it was a high school trip or going off to college. The first experience of disconnection can be extremely traumatic, even for those who won’t admit it.

God understands the mother-child bond much better than we do – after all, He designed it. He also understands that even us big, grown up guys need a mommy sometimes. That’s why He created what I refer to as “The Other Mothers.” These are special women who are called to be stand-in moms for people who need them. A fine example of this calling in action is my wife, Sharon. She’s the “other mother” to a fairly large list of college students who are away from home. They hang around with our daughter, and pretty much come and go around our house as though they lived here – and if any one of them needed a temporary place, they WOULD live here. She bakes them brownies and cookies, she listens, laughs, and counsels. Just like a mother, she sticks her nose in when it’s needed but not necessarily welcome – and she’s always thanked for it in the end. Some of Sharon’s surrogate kids even call her “Mom,” and when their parents are visiting she’s the first person that they want to introduce them to.

I’ve had a couple of “other mothers” in my lifetime. After my Mom died, my Dad remarried. My stepmother and I didn’t get along very well at first, mostly because I had been running parts of the household that she felt ought to be her domain. The resulting turf wars were ugly, but eventually we came to an understanding. She wasn’t going to replace my mother, nor was she going to try – but she WAS the Queen of the kitchen, and I stepped down for the sake of self-preservation. Once we came to terms and declared peace, Phyllis became a good friend to me – and yes, she became an “other mother.” When she passed away, it was like losing my mom all over again.

As you can see, “other mothers” can take many forms. They may be the Aunt that fills in for a deceased sister as her children go through some of those passages where you really NEED a mother. They may be teachers who provide special encouragement and care. They may be next door neighbors with milk and cookies. They can even be your mother-in-law. They come in all flavors, because there are so many different needs.

The Apostle Paul had an “other mother.” We see her referred to in Romans 16:13: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” Rufus was a leading man in the Roman church, the son of Simon of Cyrene, the man who the Romans forced to carry Jesus’ cross. It is apparent that Rufus’ mother was a Godly woman, given the positions of her husband and son, and the honor bestowed on her by Paul. I can picture her as a woman who took Paul in during some of his most difficult moments, providing the care and counsel that only a Godly mother can give. She obviously had a huge impact on Paul’s life, for while Paul greeted many people in his letters, no other woman is greeted with this level of warmth and love. I can’t help but think that without the care and encouragement of his “other mother,” Paul may not have found the strength to carry on through the hardest of times.

I can’t encourage you to be an “other mother.” Those who are called to this noble role need no prompting, for it comes as naturally to them as breathing. I can, however, take this opportunity to honor and thank you for your contribution to the world we live in. I thank God daily for what you’ve meant to each of us whose lives you’ve touched.

Happy Mothers Day!

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