I was recently counseling a sixteen-year-old girl about a conflict with her parents. They want her to stop being friends with another girl because she’s of a lower caste. My friend doesn’t believe in caste and cannot bear to think about telling her friend, “I’m sorry – I can’t talk to you because you’re a lower caste and my parents believe you’re dirty.”
After affirming that she needs to respect and honor her parents, I said, “But your parents are human. Just like everyone else, they have places that sin has blinded them. You need to balance your respect for your parents with God’s command to love your neighbor.”
Later, as I thought about our conversation, I thought about the first time we realize our parents aren’t perfect. The first time we see they don’t have it all together like we thought they did when we were seven. We begin to make jokes about how scary it is to grow up to be like our mother.
“You’ll make it,” she said. “I can see it. You’ve gotten a good foundation from somewhere – I’m guessing from your parents.”
It was a woman who did a hefty chunk of my orientation after arrival to South Asia. I was talking to her two months into my time living with two South Asian women and another lady from Guatemala. Things were stressful on many fronts and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make it. Her words were reassuring.
“You’re right,” I wanted to tell her. “I did get it from my parents.”
While I still jump when I crack a joke I can hear in my mom’s voice or a vision of her standing a certain way flits through my mind when I’ve assumed the same posture, I’m glad that in so many ways – I’ve turned out like my mom.
In some ways, I think it takes those painful adolescent moments of realizing parental imperfection to honestly appreciate parents. Because instead of seeing my mom as some sort of superwoman who effortlessly and fearlessly shaped her kids, I understand that she was a woman drawing heavily on God’s grace; trusting that He would somehow work through her.
And that is the quality I’m glad my mom passed along to me. That she let me see through her cracks often enough so that I’d understand it was God’s grace shining through her. So that when my own imperfections, fears and efforts glare back at me, I know it’s okay to be a woman drawing heavily on God’s grace; trusting that He will somehow work through me.
It’s why I thank God for my mother (though not as often as I should) and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.