As a Christian, I am privileged to feel able to approach Almighty God, any time of day and night with a prayer or a thought.
The confidence with which I enter His throne room is unrelated to how “good” I have been in the hours and days beforehand.
I approach Him, knowing I will get a warm reception. Knowing He will be gracious and not meet me with a big stick or a barrage of accusatory words. Knowing that in His presence, I will find the strength to turn my life around and do better.
I am also keenly aware that I do not extend the same generosity of spirit to my nearest and dearest.
My tongue is like a well trained, lethal sniper. Ready to berate and barrage at every turn. I do not hide my disappointment and anger at their misdeeds. I do not fail to let them know just how let down I feel. Worse still, I feel morally justified in doing so.
In Luke 9:54, the disciples considered themselves morally justified in asking Jesus to call down destruction on a Samaritan village for their cold reception of Jesus and His entourage.
Jesus rebuked the disciples, reminding them that His purpose was to save lives, not to destroy them. He said this because he recognised that only an abundance of love is powerful enough to turn the hearts of sinners towards him.
This is not blind, sentimental, mushy love.
This is a very deliberate, powerful, unconditional and generous love that chooses to believe in, and nurture the potential of the individual that lies within their current stinky and undesirable state of being.
It’s believing that better lies within and drawing it out in love.
It’s understanding that the outward change will seek will only become manifest after a million, tiny, indiscernible changes. And that our role is to feed and nurture that deep but slow work with the same unconditional, inexhaustible love that our Heavenly Father showers on us – daily.
It’s remembering that Mercy triumphs over Judgement. Always.
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face.
And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.
And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. Lu 9:51-56 NKJV
Earlier this year in the month of March, I was presented with the award on the left having completed a year-long entrepreneurship programme for African women.
I was somewhat bemused by the title “Perfect Score”. What does this even mean? I wondered.
Then I reflected on another award I was presented with one Mothering Sunday, also in the March of that year, which is shown on the right, and I was struck by the difference between the two.
My Perfect Score award was for “earning all the available programme points over the course of the 12 month AWEC programme”.
It is indeed possible to earn a “Perfect Score” for an endeavour where the criteria is clearly defined. The process of earning the award is logical and transparent and can easily be verified and justified.
However, it is practically impossible to earn a “perfect score” for being a mum.
For one, who is to say how this is to be measured? How many dirty nappy changes would qualify? How many school plays attended, meals cooked, noses wiped and clothes mended would earn one points?
When the children become teenagers, how many miles of driving from one “very important” social event to the other? How many late nights waiting up for them to come home? How many hours of consoling teenage angst and drying their tears?
On the 12 month course, one would forfeit points for not attending key meetings, and for not submitting assignments by stated deadlines.
As a mother, in contrast, how many points does one lose for failing to protect them from danger? From not serving the most nutritious meals or for bursts of irrational anger?
When it comes to motherhood, perfection is unattainable and must be left at the door as we stumble and fumble our way through the nebulous process of childrearing, gyrating from moments of elation and euphoria to deepest darkest despair and unbearable pain.
Not only is perfection unattainable as a mom, it is also, frankly undesirable.
You see, children are keenly aware of their own imperfections and so allowing them to witness your struggles and triumphs will help them navigate their own challenges from a much more healthier place.
As a mother, I maintain my sanity by embracing my imperfections and striving to do better next time.
I can only pray that God will protect my children from the worst consequences of my many imperfections so they can be beautifully, and confidently imperfect for their own kids.
One of my goals for this month is to refill. And so, when my daughter came in to the piano room to practice, rather than have her practice with her headphones on, I chose to listen. Her is a snippet from her practice. Afterwards I felt refreshed.
I love the quiet simplicity that signals the arrival of spring. A flower bud here, a blade of grass there, the warmer, brighter days…. Spring sneaks up on you, unnaounced, without fanfare but with a definiteness that is impossible to ignore.
After tumultous whirlwind that has characterised the last 12 months, it’s time to recharge the batteries, take stock and reposition for the future. April will be the time to sow the seeds and lay teh foundation for the next 12 months.
Many parts of the world are celebrating Mothering Sunday today and Church services will be dedicated to Mothers – both present and departed – for their unwavering selfless love.
Dolly Parton’s song, “Coat of Many Colours” tells of how her mother stitched together a coat for her from pieces of rags because they could not afford to buy one. And how the children at school made fun of this coat that had been so lovingly put together by her mum.
And I reflect on how timeless her message is. How mothers today continue to weave the best life they can for their children from the fragments of time, resources and skills that they have.
This is a universal struggle regardless of socio-economic status, race or background.
And so I want to encourage Mothers who are reading this today not to be discouraged. Your love is the greatest gift you can give your children.
The last verse of Dolly’s song is particularly powerful:
But they didn’t understand it and I tried to make them see That one is only poor only if they choose to be Now I know we had no money but I was rich as I could be In my coat of many colours my mama made for me
Mothers, your patchwork coat, sewn in love is the greatest gift of all.
It’s a well documented fact that better decisions are made when women are in the room where it happens. This is because women bring a unique perspective and are able to find creative solutions to problems faced by organisations. Today I stand with men and women around the world who seek to address gender bias in our organisations.
I am also grateful for the women upon whose shoulders I stand today. My story would not have been possible without your sacrifice and courage.