This picture isn’t a perfect illustration of this testimony. Mama, as beautiful as she was, preferred to be the one behind the camera. So, there aren’t a lot of pictures with her and I in them. This one was taken a couple of years before the story below, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of her.
I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)
Author’s Note: I’m studying the words gentle and gentleness in the Bible. Again. There’s this yearning in my heart. As I write these Gentle Moments With God posts, I am not sure how one might categorize them. Are they devotionals? Parables? I think they are simply true-life stories of God, His Word, and me. Testimonies.
While pondering the above verse, a memory of Mama and me came to mind and the gentle lesson the Lord taught both of us.
I was in the seventh or eighth grade and the only person home that afternoon. Someone knocked on the outside door of the enclosed porch.
When I peeked out from behind the curtain on the big window, I saw a man wearing a suit and tie was looking around, then he opened the door and stepped onto the porch. He tried to look in the windows, and from the stairway landing our dogs, Pal and Ding growled in the low tone that was meant to warn me.
The man knocked on the front door hard enough to make the glass rattled, I jumped, and the dogs growled louder. When he jiggled the locked doorknob with force, I knew it was time to pull out my secret weapon.
When I let our short but fiercely protective dog loose, he jumped against the door about nose height on the way too aggressive man’s face his bass bark letting his German shepherd ancestry known. Pal kept lunging, and that gave me time to peek out the window in time to see the man head out the porch door slamming it behind him and running down the sidewalk.
Ding stood beside me, barking too. He was our second line of defense – if anyone got past Pal, Ding was waiting.
When Mama got home from work, I told her what happened. My voice was still a little breathless. She was used to my almost endless supply of words and stories. Sometimes the line between truth and fiction blurred a little when the story I might write from the real-life experience got mixed in.
But not this time.
After supper tired of me recounting the experience, Mana encouraged me to go to bed early. I paused at my bedroom door and asked, “You think I’m lying, don’t you?”
I crawled into bed and waited. For the first time, I could remember, Mama didn’t come in to make sure my blankets were just so and kiss me goodnight. In the dark, tears of sadness soaked my pillow, and fearful thoughts chased through my mind. What if the man came back after the lights in the house were all out? My bedroom was at the front of the house, just on the other side of the door, and my window opened to the front porch.
Although Pal preferred to sleep in the big bed with my parents, I hoped he would sneak in and sleep on the foot of my bed that night.
I worried into the fear-filled darkness in my mind, “If I fall asleep, will I wake up in time to scream bloody murder if he jimmied the window open?”
Something scarier than the man worried me: Mama’s disbelief. If I couldn’t find a way to prove I was telling her the truth, she would always believe I was a liar. I considered writing her a note but knew that was silly – she’d already heard all my words and didn’t believe them. More words from me were not going to be enough.
I wished our dogs could talk!
After what seemed like a long time, Mama came into my room and knelt beside my bed.
She washed her hand over my forehead and then my cheek in the gentlest of ways. That sweet touch soothed my aching spirit.
After a few quiet seconds, she said, “Joy, I’m sorry. The news reported about the man who knocked on our door today. He’s been breaking into houses and robbing them. He threatened one lady and the police arrested him tonight. Please forgive me for not believing you.”
I sat up, and she rose to sit beside me. After she wrapped her arms around me, she whispered, “I might question you sometimes, but I won’t doubt you again.”
Those quiet words embedded themselves in my heart. Mama’s motives were pure. She wanted me to grow up and be a good girl and getting me there was part of her job. I respected that and realized that it was sometimes a heavy responsibility. After all, there was my tendency to exaggerate.
Sitting there, on the edge of my bed that night, I grew up a little bit, and something shifted between us.
We both knew that sending me to bed wasn’t the thing that made the difference although a little quiet pondering never hurt me. No, it was the profound power and courage of Mama’s humility and gentleness.
Mama didn’t have to come to my bedside that night, but driven by love, she did.
As I again ponder this passage, Mama is in Heaven. But God is using His Word and her humility in this long-ago moment to teach me more about Him. And me. And living gently for Him. I wish I could tell her and thank her. Instead, I’ll tell and thank Him. She would like that.
Until Next Time,