I thought my mama was going to die. This was not when she was in the hospital for six weeks, full of tubes and meds and tests, not when she was in the rehab facility, quarantined, therapied, and depressed, not when she lived with me and wanted to go free to do her “own thing.” This was last November when I heard from God she was going to die, that she was no earthly good to God and that her death would happen over Christmas break—on December 21—as an act of mercy, my husband being off work, we would have time to arrange things.
For three weeks after receiving my word, I planned the funeral in my mind, jotted down notes and cried and cried. I thought about my mother, who she was, who she wasn’t and what I wanted her to be. I grieved about who I would no longer have and who I would never get a chance to receive. I thought about her life, the family that shaped her, her shaping that shaped me and couldn’t shape me in the ways I wanted. And every phone call startled me, always wondering if this would be the one where I would hear the news. And my close friends mourned as I mourned, hearing my heaviness in every conversation and praying that my cloak of darkness would cease.
And my mama died, just like God said but not like I thought he said. On December 21, I went to visit her, took my sons to her apartment to see her one last time. I wanted her to tell me that she was proud of my character, maybe say she admired my work as a mother, but she sat there tired, slumped, droopy hollowed eyes staring there, somewhere away from us. We all were there but she had gone elsewhere, perhaps thinking of her finances, having to now pay rent when she had owned her home for well over 30 years. Maybe she was thinking about how her life used to be, how she wished she wasn’t alone, afraid, dependent, broken, unable to travel freely. Seeing her in this state, like I had seen dozens of times before, was different this time. I knew where she was, unsettled, spiritually restless and in no place to give another what they think they need. I had been there with friends, mentees, bosses and my own children who have conceived me to be the crises savior. I saw my mama was in no position, never was in the position, to be my savior, telling me sweet mama words her own mom never had for her.
On December 21, I decided to let mama be, the good that taught me so much, and the incapable that couldn’t give me as much as I thought I needed from a person. When I let her be, I also let free that woman that I wanted her to be. My mama conception died because having her with me shackled me, keeping me from freely completing my God-ordained work. When I let my vain image go God was able to show me that 1) my conception was my idol; 2) I had exalted my conception above the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Psalm 27:10); and 3) I was looking for a person, and not God, to make me feel complete. Letting my mama conception go set me free and was a radical act of love toward my mama, God and me.
Take a Risk Challenge: Decide that you will set free an expectation of someone giving to you or speaking to you in an affirming way when he or she may be emotionally deficient to do so.
My One Thousand Gifts List
Waking up refreshed
Cleaning the shower
Having time with God even with the boys making noise two rooms away
Attending Najeema’s shower
Money to get Najeema a gift and cards for others’ upcoming birthday
Joshua being confident and playing well for his piano recital
Seeing Nana support Joshua at this recital and the 80-something great grandma being impressed with how he played
Attending both services at Ebenezer to support my sister and for memorable and biblical messages from each preacher
Dinner with Flynn
The comfort of Indian food