My mother is a nurturing and supportive woman. She cared and worried over my brother and me growing up and even still as we are adults. I could always far more easily talk to her than my father. Being an art history major in her college years, she was the one to understand and encourage my own artistic interests. It is for that encouragement of my interests that I am tremendously grateful. She did not try to set me on a professional course that she thought I should fulfill. She remembered and resented what it was like having parents that tried to control a child’s developing interests. She swore never to do that with her own children, and she fulfilled that promise gloriously. When I began studying music, I was drawn to one instrument after another. She was always supportive when I wanted to try something new as long as Icontinued to practice the others. Because of her, I entered college as a music education major with twenty instruments under my fingers. But my renaissance tendencies did not keep me solely in music.
She was the one that encouraged me to love reading. Because of an atrocious public school experience from the 1st through 6th grades, I had come to hate reading. But she was supportive whenever I saw a book that I thought might be interesting. And slowly but surely, once I entered a private school that allowed for more fruitful reading lists, I gradually got back into reading. All along the way, she would take me to bookstores when she was looking for more books of her own and would never let me leave without a book that caught my eye. Now I’m voracious when it comes to reading. “Never without a book” is my personal motto.
Whatever my interest was, she supported it and gave me room to discover it to my heart’s content. Sometimes the interest was brief – I’d have a taste and move on; other times it was more enduring – I would find a means of artistic expression that would last me for years. After all, I started calligraphy when I was in 6th grade because I thought calligraphy pens looked cool and she got me a set. What came of that was a fundamental aspect of my personal prayer life that has developed for over 17 years since then.
Growing up in the church and then going through the process of discernment, the main relationship to God that I was given was primarily following His calling for me. We should do as God says. Do what God wants. God said do this and do that. With all the emphasis on doing as God commands, and following that calling to earn God’s love and appreciation, that leaves little room to appreciate the God given interests we may have. A father image of God tells their child how to be and what to be. A mother image nurtures the child so they can discover what they can be. We spend so much of our time holding up what we do to God to see if it will meet God’s satisfaction. People are called to ministry because of God’s apparent desire, not their own. And if we take the time to delve into something that we truly enjoy, it’s seen as selfish. But a God as a Mother wouldn’t make that judgement. God as Mother would delight that we have found something that resonates within us.
There must be a balance in our relationship to God. There is God that directs us and teaches us. But there is also a God that delights when we discover the very God given interests we have. Lord, Mother, help me to know more fully, experience more deeply that You are there sharing in my delight when I have found something that captivates and fulfills me. Amen.