As I was pondering Mother’s Day and all the things that go along with thanking those who are our mothers, I struggled a little with what I felt were some of the reasons why my mom is so special. It’s not that she was a bad mom, it’s just we didn’t get to grow up or grow together while I was young.
At 9 my parents divorced and even before that I was living with my grandparents. I started living with my dad’s parents basically at age 3. Even though my parents lived right next door until I was 9, I didn’t see either of them a whole lot growing up. Dad was always out fishing and mom was always working. Both had a lot of barriers to overcome and dealing with 2 kids 2 years apart was a difficult things for them to handle amid all of their issues in life. Dad was epileptic and unable to hold a job. Mom was a foreigner and trying to find her way. Both had trouble communicating with each other and the result was a divorce. At that time mom moved to another city and my dad moved a few blocks away. We saw dad during some evening meals but my mom was only allowed visitation on holidays and with special permission. Like I said, I am not sure of all the behind the scenes events but as I have pieced things together it seems that my grandparents were not only mistrusting toward my mom but probably a little prejudiced. Needless to say, we only saw my mom on a limited basis for years and at those times for short periods.
Yet my mom has had had a profound impact on my life. Through the years I have been able to develop a relationship with her and come to realize some very important and valuable lessons that only she could have taught me. Allow me to share them with you.
When I stop to think about the amount of forgiveness my mom has had to show and express, I really am floored. Not only has she been mistreated by people she thought were her loved ones in the USA but she had no other parents in her home country of Korea. She was put in an orphanage and lived there until she met my father. Dreams of a new life with family and kids came to a screeching halt when my parents divorced. I remember one time sitting in a parking lot when I was about 18 and my mom telling me that all she had ever wanted was to come to America and have her children and give them the very best. After 10 years she had no advocates in the States, no close friends, and the family she thought she had had turned against her. As I look back on how poorly my grandparents treated my mom, how they “brainwashed” my brother and I and kept us from her and limited us sharing more memories together, I am astounded by the ability my mom has to forgive. Not only has she forgiven them but she has treated their memories with fondness and throughout all of it respected their wishes! I cannot say I have had any better lesson on forgiveness than this!
English obviously wasn’t my mom’s native language being that she was from South Korea. Not only did she have to work hard to learn to speak, read, and write English but she had to get a job to help support the family since my dad and grandmother did not work. My grandfather was a carpenter and my dad did some fishing but my mom needed a job to bring in money to help provide as well. She eventually got a job at a local shirt factory where she worked for over 17 years sewing, making minimal pay. Even after the divorce, she continued to work, giving my grandparents money toward our education, my braces, glasses, band fees, etc. as any good mom would do. She would be laid off and the factory soon closed and my mom found other work in nearby cities to continue her life and helping provide for my brother and I. To this day, she still gives in support of the ministry and work I do around the world. She has always been a hard worker and I have benefitted greatly from her sacrifice in a shirt factory. Not from her income alone but from her testimony of endurance, love and dedication to provide for her children.
Mom may have been limited by my grandparents and the “law” for when and how much she could see us but for every major event, she was there. When it counted, she was there: Band concerts…there. Parades…there. High school graduation…there. College fees and books…there. College graduation…there. She may not have been able to be part of my everyday life but she was there when it counted most. She did all she could do with all she had. She took advantage of every chance she got to be present with us as often as she could. She made a difference as best she could with her limited resources, limited understanding and limited trust. She has not harbored anger, resentment, or bitterness for all the wrongs she has encountered. Instead she turned them all into beautiful lessons she taught me from afar. I will be eternally grateful for my mom and all she has done for me and my brother. Moreover, I will be more thankful for the person she is and has chosen to be. I love you mom! You really are my hero.
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and works as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA