I found this old picture of my mom the other day; she’s in her mid-thirties, she has dark brown hair, smooth skin, and is smiling widely as she sits on the ground with me and my friends during a Sunday School class when I was young.
When I got home from working at my brother’s ranch today I asked my mom how her day was, twenty-eight years after that picture was taken. The more I looked at her, the more I saw the years that have passed. Her hair is mostly gray, skin is wrinkled, and she doesn’t smile nearly as often as she used to. She said her day was rough, despite having the day off from work. It turns out she fell at work yesterday (again) and tweaked her back (again) and it has been hurting more than usual (which is pretty bad to begin with). It seems like each day is just a little harder than the one before it, and yet she keeps going.
It’s really difficult for me to see her in pain, to see her having to shuffle here and there because of the pain. It’s hard to see her be so uncomfortable in any sitting/laying/standing position. It’s hard to imagine what’s going through her mind each and every day. It’s hard to see her in her condition and know that there isn’t a single thing I can do to make it better.
I can cook and clean and do the grocery shopping and attempt the laundry and run other errands, but this doesn’t make her pain any better. It doesn’t alleviate the aches, the stresses, the hurts, the emotional struggles that she goes through. To be quite honest, I could do everything in my power to help, but it wouldn’t do a thing.
And this frustrates me, both as a son and as a man. Men love to fix things – I love to fix things. Engines, broken glasses, phones, farming equipment; if it’s not working right I’m more than willing to tinker with it and get it running again. But I can’t fix my mom’s pains. I can’t operate on her, I can’t even begin to figure out where the pain may be coming from (the doctors can’t even do that). Frustrating. As a son it’s really difficult to see one’s mother in pain – physical or emotional. We’re supposed to take care of our mothers, help them, respect them. But as a son I can’t take away any of my mother’s pain. Frustrating.
The other day I read Exodus 14:14 – “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” I have a love/hate relationship with this verse right now. I love it because it’s so reassuring – God’s going to do all the work so just relax and be at peace. I hate it because…well, frankly because it’s so reassuring. It’s telling me to stop being frustrated, to stop worrying, to stop freaking out about how helpless I feel with my mom. It’s telling me to let God take care of it and to be at peace with it – not the normal human reaction.
Moses was dealing with a load of people, all who were whining and complaining – ‘It’s hot…my feet hurt…the Egyptians are going to kill us…’ They were in such dire straits that they said that it would have been better for them to be abused under the Egyptians than wandering around in the desert with Moses. Frustrated, worrying, freaking-out-people. Like me.
Matthew Henry’s commentary explains the 14th verse nicely, “If God himself bring his people into straits, he will himself discover a way to bring them out again. In times of great difficulty and great expectation, it is our wisdom to keep our spirits calm, quiet, and sedate; for then we are in the best frame both to do our own work and to consider the work of God.”
If you see me and I start whining or complaining, tell me to shut up and be at peace. I’ll do the same to you.
much love. sheth.