Hello friends! It’s been a minute since I posted. But today is special. Today is my 32nd birthday and there is a little seed in my heart I felt like should be shared on a day like today.
Normally on my birthday, I reflect on what I have or have not accomplished over the course of my adult life and normally evaluate how successful I feel like I’ve been based on goals I’ve consciously or subconsciously set for myself. This year, however, I’ve been thinking more about how I came into the world and less about what I’ve accomplished.
I’m alive today because a woman chose to give me life when she was unsure about how it would impact her own journey. Honestly, my Mama is the one who did all the work on this day 32 years ago and that’s why I’m going to do something that I don’t do often. I’m going to share a bit of our story.
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to tell our story. It’s just a really complicated one to tell. There has been a lot of loss, a lot of hurt, and some pretty bad choices. I mean how do you fit all of that into a 1200 word blog post and paint a clear picture free of judgment. Because it’s a complicated story to tell I’ve waited to share our journey until now.
So why start talking about my Mama now? Honestly, because The Holy Spirit said so. I’m not entirely sure why this is the season to start sharing some of the more personal parts of my life but it is. So let’s dive in.
When I was six years old my mom had a stroke. The story of how all that came about is a long one and meant for coffee and cupcakes. For now, we will just talk about where it left me and her. It meant that my mom as a 43-year-old woman was incapable of caring for herself and it left my dad and six-year-old crazy-haired, chubby-faced little Mindy as her primary caregivers. I quickly became responsible for a lot of things in my life and hers and was forced to grow up far before any child should.
I spent 25 years of my life being the protector of my mom. Making sure she had what she needed, that she didn’t do anything to harm herself, and often trying to protect her from how unkind the world can be. It always felt a bit like her and me against the world. I loved my mom more than any person on the planet and fought hard to care well for her. Please don’t filter our story through a rose-colored lens. I didn’t always play the role of the selfless daughter delightfully serving her disabled mother. Over the years I had to intentionally choose her needs over my wants, fight bitterness in my heart because of the sacrifices that had to be made, and wrestled with God often because I didn’t understand why this was our story. Over time, and with lots of counseling I’ve been able to find a lot of hope and healing in our story, but freedom did not come cheap. But does it ever?
Late this spring my Mama passed away. At the end of my Mama’s life, most would describe her as sassy, opinionated, and maybe the most stubborn person they’ve ever met. She also cussed worse than a sailor. She was a mess. Honestly, she was out of control and that’s what made her so endearing. And now it should be very clear why I am the way I am. So much of who I am comes from her. Really most of my very favorite parts of my personality, my endearing quirks, and strengths were so clearly traits she gave me simply as a birthright. I didn’t earn them, they weren’t learned traits. They are part of me simply because I am part of her.
My mom became a believer in my late teenage years. I always struggled with the fact that because of her disabilities she wasn’t able to build the Kingdom or share the Gospel. One afternoon I was talking about this with Jesus because we are cool like that. I remember it so clearly. I was driving on a fall day to meet a friend for the first Salted Caramel Mocha of the season. As I’m ranting to Jesus about how I wish my mom could build the Church (because it’s my absolute favorite thing to do.) I felt the Holy Spirit stop me. He said to me, “Mindy, She is building My church by choosing to give you life when it was costly for her. All the things she was given to build my Kingdom have been given to you through her. You’re the way she is building the kingdom.” Uhmmm… What? First came all the tears, because God is a good father and always knows what we need to hear when we need to hear it. But that was only my first reaction.
Then entered my pride. I felt this pressure to do everything right, to build her legacy well. I foolishly believed that I could build her legacy and my own all by myself. I started to believe the lie that if I accomplished enough it would add value to her and therefore to me. Luckily that didn’t last long and because Jesus gracefully worked some things out in me pretty quickly. The words that the Holy Spirit spoke to me that day were just little seeds planted. It wasn’t until my mom’s passing that it became more clear what I was supposed to do with that truth.
Often time the pain that comes in grief brings clarity and that’s exactly what it has done for me. JOHNNYSWIM has a song called “Let It Matter”. It’s a song about grief. It’s all about how we should sit in the hurt after we’ve lost someone. The reason is that the person we’ve lost was so worth loving and therefore they are so worth missing. All that the highs, lows, and everyday moments in between all mattered and therefore should be remembered. In this season I’ve had to intentionally choose to let all of our story matter. I’ve had to choose to celebrate all the good, forgive all the hurt, and grieve all the loss.
In this season, God has revealed so much to me. There is one truth that has become so rooted in me though. It’s the truth He started sowing in me that fall day in the car. It’s basic but has been revolutionary for me. It’s this… The only way to carry on the legacy of my Mama in a way that honors God is to be truly who He intended me to be. Legacy will not come through achievement, striving, or notoriety. It comes by loving God’s people, and building His church. And not by doing so the way that others do, but by being true to how He has gifted me, called me, and made me. If I want the life and loss of my Mama to matter I need to own all the God has placed in my hands, and care well for all that He has called me to.
So I’ve written a lot of words to say this one thing. This year I’m not worried about all I haven’t accomplished in the last 32 years. This year I’m asking God to reveal to me how to become more like Him, and more of who He intended me to be. This year I’m determined to seek His calling for my life and to love the people well He has placed in my path. This year is no longer about the past and so full of anticipation for the future and the legacy my Mama and I will leave behind.
So what about you? How do you react to Birthdays? Any wisdom to pass on? Let me know in the comments!