It was a random text from a good friend today that sent my thoughts into motion.
I was in the car on my way to Jackson, MI today with my wife and daughter when my watch vibrated to inform me that I had received a text. I dismissed it as I do while driving and honestly forgot about it. We were walking through Walmart when I looked at my phone to see a text from my good friend, Eric Krupp. Eric has been my friend for nearly 30 years. He is a great man who pastors a great church in Mount Pleasant, MI. The text was simple. It read, “Thursday night we will be grilling chicken breasts marinated in Italian dressing. I always think about your mom when having it.”
He probably didn’t expect the reaction that it sparked, but there I was. All six feet, two inches and three hundred plus pounds of me was standing in the middle of what I affectionately call “The Mullet Mart” sobbing like a giant baby. It was a continuation of what happened Sunday morning as I sat in church listening to my pastor talk about his mother.
My mom passed away two years ago on April 27. There are a few days that I get a little emotional when I think about her. This past Sunday happened to be Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day along with her birthday and the anniversary of her death are days that always spark some tears. As I listened to Pastor Trammell talk about his praying mother, I began to think about the times I woke in the middle of the night to hear my mom praying for my brothers, my sister, and me. She would pray in the living room and I vividly remember hearing her passionately calling out each of our names in prayer.
Ma was far from perfect. The years leading up to her death were very difficult. When she died, my brother asked me if I wanted to speak at her memorial service. I declined at first, but two days after her death, I woke up and God laid something on my heart. The words that He gave me have helped me day after day since. I have decided to share them with you today.
“I have spent the better part of the last decade a little upset with my mom.
I have spent the better part of the last decade harboring some feelings and bitterness in my heart towards my mom.
I have spent the better part of the last decade feeling guilty for these feelings.
I have spent the better part of the last decade feeling guilty for not going to see her more often.
This past Tuesday as I stood over her bed my mind began to recall some memories that I haven’t thought about in a long time.
Most of them were funny stories that involved her unique ways.
Some of them were memories of some of the negative things that happened over the years.
Some of them were memories of her with tears running down her face as she danced and spoke with other tongues under the power of the Holy Ghost.
On Wednesday, the day of her death, I focused a lot on her flaws.
I focused on the pain.
I tried to dwell on the positive, but my mind kept drifting back to negative.
I woke up Thursday and before my feet even touched the floor God spoke to me. He said, “Your mom was the perfect Christian.”
I wondered how my mom could be the perfect Christian.
When I think of the perfect Christian woman I think of women like Sister Vera Kinzie, Sister Theodora Jordan, and Sister June Starr.
I don’t really see my mom that way.
Then I thought of women like Rahab, Ruth, Mary Magdelene, the woman at the well. These women were heroes of the Bible–not because they were perfect women–but because they were women who did great things in spite of the fact that they were deeply flawed.
A perfect Christian is not a perfect person.
We who knew my mom the best know that she was far from a perfect person.
But her flaws are exactly what made her the perfect Christian. A perfect Christian is the one who in spite of their flaws never gives up. No matter how many times they fall they get back up. They press on. They sin and then they repent. They face a set back and then they persevere. These are the things that made my mom who she was.
So, I refuse to focus on the things that caused us pain.
I refuse to focus on the negative.
I choose to remember her for her pot roast, pork chops, chili, and chop suey.
I choose to remember her for her saurkraut, sour cream cookies, meatballs, and meatloaf. And this will probably make all of you except my brother Kenny and my Uncle Kenny cringe, but I choose to remember her round steak with ketchup gravy.
I choose to remember her for being a video game fanatic. I remember several nights falling asleep to the sound of her playing the little green hand-held Mattell football game or Centipede on my Atari (part of me thinks she actually bought the Atari for herself) or Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo that she DID buy for herself. She was the proud owner of a Gameboy long before I ever got one, in fact, I never even got one.
She may not like me telling on her for this one, but I choose to remember her for liking Saturday Night Live. Once I busted her watching it, she couldn’t justify not allowing me to watch it. So, some of my fondest memories are sitting up late on Saturday nights with my mom–both of us cracking up–watching SNL. (She particularly loved the Wayne’s World sketches). And, yes, she is to blame for my twisted sense of humor.
I choose to remember the times I woke in the middle of the night when she had no idea I was awake to hear her calling out the names of Mike, Kenny, Terry, Jeannie, and Buba.
I heard this on more than just one occasion.
I choose to remember her being used by God in the gift of tongues.
I choose to remember the way she would dance before the Lord in spite of the neuropathy in her feet.
I choose to remember her repentant heart.
These are the reasons that I can stand here before you this morning as a minister of the Gospel in spite of all my sins and in spite of all of my mistakes.
I am the product of a praying mother.
That is why I fall; then I get back up. I sin; then I repent.
I press on.
I don’t give up.
It’s all because of this imperfect woman who happened to be the perfect Christian.
My mom taught me with her life that you can never go beyond the reach of God’s grace.
I choose to lay aside my anger towards her.
I choose to lay aside any resentment.
I choose to love her for who she was.
I choose forgiveness.”