Going beyond Mother’s Day

    I celebrated Mother’s Day as I do every year — by celebrating the women who shaped me.

    From my mother, who formed me in her womb; to my grandmother, who carried generations in her hands; to my aunt, whose prayers sustained me; to my wife, whose love maintains me, I thanked them.

    I thanked them because I’ve learned as a man what I could not have known as a child: That a mother’s love endures; that her hope for her child is infinite; that she is stronger than we know.

    Wisdom with years

    At 45, I can look back and see my mother’s wisdom.

    She saw girls who were no good for me and told me what she knew.

    She saw friends who were using me and told me to cut them loose.

    She saw my gift for academics and pushed me toward college. A

    s an adolescent, and then as a young adult, I refused to listen again and again, and my life slipped toward chaos.

    In a matter of a few years, because of my own decisions and actions, I went from college student to police dispatcher, to drug user to street bum.

    Before I knew it I’d staked out my own crooked path to ruin. And it was at least in part because I rebuffed the wise counsel of the person who loved me best – my mother.

    Lessons learned the hard way

    I can still remember the worst of it.

    On cold, desolate streets where I starred in my own twisted biopic, I could see a shadow of myself withering away to nothing.

    During those years, I would occasionally call my mother and she would deliver tough love. I would see my aunt on a street corner and she would pray. I would make a half-hearted attempt to change and my mother would help me while vacillating between anger and compassion, love and hope.

    More than once I disappointed her, but my mother never gave up, and years ago, when I decided to change my life for good, she was there, beaming with pride as I returned to college and graduated with honors.

    She was there with a welcoming smile when I introduced her to the woman I would later marry. She helped me along, sometimes with tangible assistance, but mostly with love.

    My mother has watched as I’ve leaned on the academic gift she recognized early on.

    She’s seen me publish eight novels and tour the country more than once.

    She’s seen me covered in national media and writing for national publications.

    She’s stood in crowded rooms at my most successful book signings.

    She’s been one of those who consistently showed up even when the crowds were sparse.

    She has become my oldest friend and my trusted advisor, and though I don’t always follow her counsel, I have learned to consider it thoughtfully, to weigh it carefully, and to use her experience as a resource when making important decisions.

    Love and respect

    I have learned from my mother that love is indeed what I’ve read about in scripture. It is longsuffering, patient and kind. It does not boast, is not puffed up, and is not self-seeking.

    Love, in its purest form, is precisely what I’ve seen from my mother. That’s why love never fails.

    On Mother’s Day, it was easy to celebrate my mother and all the women who’ve been there along my life’s journey.

    As mothers, they have each been a living demonstration of love. But in my life, they have been much more than that. As I’ve grown into manhood, I’ve learned from watching both their struggles and their triumphs.

    I’ve learned that women are to be respected, not dismissed; that they are to be partners, not servants; that they are to be valued, not cast aside. I’ve learned that they are to be loved.

    I thank the mothers in my life for teaching me those lessons, for in learning them, I learned to be a man.

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