The Real Story

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

May 11, 2014 – Mother’s Day

“The Real Story”

Scripture        Proverbs 31:10-31

This passage describes the ideal woman. The verses are actually an acrostic.  I am certain many of you have heard this familiar one. You might even be tempted to sing along:

“M” is for the million things she gave me

             “O” means only that she’s growing old 

            “T” is for the tears she shed to save me 

            “H” is for her heart of purest gold 

            “E” is for her eyes with love-light shining 

            “R” means right and right she’ll always be 

            Put them all together they spell MOTHER, a word that means the world to me.

The verses we just read look nothing like that, unless we have a Hebrew  bible. Then you would notice that each of the characteristics begin with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, similar to

“A is for apple, B is for ball, C is for cat . . “. and so on.

Each of the characteristics in Proverbs starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet – 22 of them. They were never meant to be applied to any one woman. They describe an ideal.  But there is a huge difference between idealistic and realistic:

Idealistic: 1. Everything is perfect. Nothing goes wrong. 2. Everyone gets what he or       she wished for. 3. Everything ends with “And they all lived happily ever after.”

Realistic 1. We deal with problems throughout life. 2. Broken dreams are often the           norm. 3. Some things are never fixed.

Sitting in our church today and in the churches, mosques and synagogues across America are real women living in the real world. We give cards, flowers, and various gifts this weekend but what do most mothers really need?  I believe the best gift would include forgiveness.

Forgiveness for all of the times she wasn’t able to meet the idealistic expectations. Forgiveness will relieve the guilt even if it unrealistic.

As the mother of four children I attended seminary full time  and served as a student pastor for two small churches.  I tried to balance being a wife, a mother, a student and a pastor. It was a juggling act and I never felt successful.  This created a huge amount of guilt for not preparing gourmet meals, not being able to make homemade cookies or cupcakes for school, not meeting my definition of the ideal mother.  As a result, I over-compensated, staying up nights to bake and decorate items from scratch.  And I felt guilty for the time I was away, so every weekend we had mandatory family outings: trips to the museums, aviary, incline and the zoo were on the list. When I could carve out a few days we would go to Washington DC.   All these things were good; but they weren’t always things my children wanted to do. Some weekends they wanted to stay home and play with their friends. The truth is it wasn’t about them; it was about me – the unrealistic idea of what a perfect mother did.

It took me a while to understand I was the one with the unrealistic expectations.

I believe many women today are judging themselves by unrealistic expectations: single mothers working a full time job, coming home to cook dinner and help their children with homework; women who carve out a few precious hours to clean the house and do the laundry, only to repeat the cycle over and over again.  Many of these women carry enormous guilt; offer them the gift of forgiveness.

We also need to extend forgiveness for all the mistakes she has made in her life because the truth is not one of us is perfect.

And we should add grace to that package: grace 1 – to understand that no one is perfect in a real world; grace 2 – to understand that she is not alone. Many others are in the same position this morning.

And to finish out the gift we should give mercy: mercy 1 – to deal with the broken heart or broken home; mercy 2 – to deal with the wayward child. I’m not excusing inappropriate behavior; I am saying none of us is perfect, but there is a God who loves us – a God who has knit us into a community where we can gain support from others when we need it because we live in a real world and all of us depend on one another.

Today we thank God for those real women that have supported us in so many ways.