Friday, March 20, 2009

John and Me

Fridays are now the day I look forward to the most because as soon as I pick Lucy up from school, I head over to spend the rest of the day with my mom. Usually we don't do much other than talk and laugh and drink tea. However, she has asked me to go through her things with her to decide what to do with them, and today I will be packing up my grandma's 1920s crystal wine goblets and juice glasses to take home.

I'd love these Fridays no matter what, but now I have the full realization that in just a matter of time, I would give everything I have just to spend one more Friday, even five more minutes, with my mom so I am cherishing them.

I have a lot of different thoughts about this whole situation--thoughts that pull me this way and that way. It's been very difficult to sleep, so each night I take half a sleeping pill (sorry, Mom!--she thinks they're addictive--it's not permanent...) and usually settle down to watch a BBC mini-series called "State of Play." I've watched it at least four times in a row now. I watch this one, well, because it's a great thriller and the best mini-series I've seen, but mostly because it's something my mom hasn't seen and probably wouldn't appeal to her much. Basically all the other things I watched I've shared with her. I described it to my friend Kirsten as kind of like a giant analgesic for me. [And a side note: there's an American movie version coming out within a couple weeks with Ben Affleck in it, for crying in a bucket. If you are my friend and you go see the ridiculous movie without watching the original series, I personally will not speak to you for six hours--the length of time it would take you to watch the mini. Consider yourself warned.]

There are so many things my mom and I experience together--books, music, movies, really just life in general--and a lot of that is painful to me now. I have to box it up and just put it away for awhile. There will be time later to bring it back out and look it over.

But more than all of those parts of daily life, what I will miss most about my mom is her impact and effect on my spiritual life. From the time I was born, she rocked me and sang hymns and read Bible stories to me. I was telling Alysa how she would wake us up early on Easter morning, and we would watch the sun rise together and sing "Up from the grave, He arose!" Growing up, she lived that verse about teaching your children the faith when you lie down and get up, when you're at home and when you walk down the road.

I've said before, my mom is a pray-er. Countless times she has prayed with and for me. Sometimes I'll be talking to her on the phone or in person and will tell her a situation that one of my friends has found herself in. Mom will say, "Let's stop everything and pray for her, right now."

The other day my dad stopped by our house. He said he had stood outside the closed door of the bedroom before he left to say goodbye to my mom. However, something compelled him to go inside instead. He found her, lying on the floor in pain, unable to get up. She'd been down on her knees, praying like always. I fully expect when I get to heaven that God will say, "You were completely covered the whole time you were down there," because that little lady can PRAY.

And so I've been thinking every day, how will I go on without her? I don't think I can do it alone. Though she is tiny, from before the time I was born I have had that mighty warrior on my side, guiding and interceding for me at every turn.

The time is coming when I will stand by her grave to say goodbye, and I'll have to turn and walk down the road by myself, without her clarity of vision, her godly advice, her fervent prayer. Who can pray for you like your mom does?

I often like to do Bible studies with other people--not in big groups--but maybe with just one or two friends. I've done some great studies with my mom, of course. However, starting in January, I've been doing a study alone, Beth's Moore's "John: 90 Days with the Beloved Disciple." While I love John's books, I've always been a bigger fan of Peter. [Side note: Lucy's Sunday School teacher stopped me not too long ago to tell me what happened during one of their lessons. It was about Jesus and the disciples. Apparently Lucy had gone off on a long monologue about Peter and all his doings, his death, his love for the Lord, and that "Peter is my mom's FAVORITE." Huh. Apparently she actually is listening when I ramble on. I guess the other kids just stared at her, though.]

Back to John. Through this whole experience I have discovered that when I am feeling at my lowest, God brings just the right word, the right e-mail from a friend, the right song, or whatever it at just the right time This is what He gave me yesterday, via Beth Moore. The lesson was from Acts, right after John's brother James was executed by Herod, and then his best friend Peter was seized:

I pity the person who came to John with the news. More than any of the other ten disciples, John must have replayed the events a thousand times in his mind. Did he think of their parents? Was he next? Did he think, "Lord, how will I go on through all of this without James and Peter? What are You doing?"...Solitude is not so much the place we find answers. It's the place we find our own square foot of earth from which to grapple with heaven and decide if we're going on--possibly alone--without our answers. And many of us will. Why? Because the privilege of wrestling with such a holy and mysterious God still beats the numbness--the pitiful mediocrity--of an otherwise life. Will you loosen your hold on anything and anyone else as prerequisites of following Him? Are you willing to be faithful, even when it means being faithful alone? How dependent are you on others for your allegiance to Christ?

She then closed the lesson with this prayer:

Lord, in those times when I fight to reconcile the facts of life with the words of faith, I depend on the fact that You give strength to the weary and strengthen the powerless. We will soar on wings like eagles. We will run and not grow weary. We will walk and not faint--not just when things are going well but when everything inside me feels like giving up and shutting down.

I am struck afresh with how God has exactly what I need at the exact moment I need it.

I will not lie. The thought of saying goodbye--I have no words. But the thought of going on alone terrifies and grieves me like nothing else.

Still I will stand...with my shoes off.

He is just as good as ever.


Jill said...

Wow...I am so moved by your true emotion Alice. Continuing to pray for you and your mom...I hope that you had a wonderful day with her today......

Melanie said...

Your posts always move me to either tears or laughter and sometimes both. Thank you for this post, Alice. We are all praying for you and your family. I've taken a page from Alysa's prayer book and pray for your mom each time I wake up in the middle of the night. I hope you can feel my cyber hug.

picturingme said...

Thinking of you & your mom...

Juliet said...

God have given you time to spend with your wonderful spiritual mother. We are priviledged that you share these times with us.

My mother is also a great prayer warrior and I rejoice to hear that of your mother.

May God grant you His great grace in the days ahead.