Summary: Should we listen to our moms? Hmm.
Trust Your Mother’s Teaching
Have you ever received really, really good advice about something you were struggling with? You had no idea what to do, no framework even to decide on the next step, and then you shared your problem with someone and they gave you good advice?
When I thought about this question, my first answer was, ‘No, I can’t think of any time I got good advice and made a good decision’. Then I thought, ‘that can’t be’.
Then I realized that over the years I’ve received all kinds of good advice leading to good decisions, but I don’t know if I’ve ever given credit to the people who steered me in the right direction.
I think I figured it was my call, my decision, my action that led to such and such a good result.
That, in a nutshell, is a key reason we often don’t show enough gratitude to or appreciation of our parents. We receive all kinds of guidance, and wisdom and loving care.
We’re messed up by them, yes of course. And they’re miles from perfect. Yes we know that too. But by them we’re given a framework with which to interpret the world and understand ourselves and others. When they fail, we find that in others who become to us surrogate or replacement parents.
When it’s done right, that framework becomes who we are.
Hang on, you might say. Those are my values! That’s my way of thinking! That’s my way of voting! That’s my attitude to people in need! That’s my way to handle money, to deal with stress, to handle betrayal, to deal with failure or defeat.
[Buzzing noise] Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We learn it. We learn it all. And the earliest learning comes from our primary caregiver, and our primary caregiver is usually our mom. [Pause]
Now we may stray. We may make some unbelievably dumb choices that our mother would never have approved of. We do that because we don’t remain children. We grow up and we grow beyond being led by the hand by the one that bore us.
And we make choices often to distinguish ourselves from our parents, to prove to ourselves that we’re our own people. Sometimes those are just necessary calls we make. Sometimes they’re really dumb. Sometimes they are good.
But we’re profoundly influenced, usually, by our parents. Today’s passage is a general warning about avoiding immoral behavior, but it’s also a good general rule of thumb to follow:
Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. 21 Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. 23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, NIV
I’ve mentioned here before how one of my earliest memories is my mom saving my life, literally.
Cramped into a VW Van as a 3-year old, after being driven for hours and hours in Mexico, the side door sliding open, me bounding out of the van and running, running, running until my mom screamed my name out loud. Stopping in my tracks, no idea what was wrong.
Mom comes up to me and takes my hand and leads me just a little further along the path I had been running to this massive, seemingly bottomless gorge that I had been seconds from falling into, falling to my death into.
I gotta say, that likely made me realize that it’s a good thing to listen to mom.
Dropping out of school (being kicked out actually) when I was 16, my mom encouraged me to return to school for one last semester to see if it would work out in a new school; this was against the advice of my best friends at the time who believed school was for losers.
Did what she said. Found God while there. Discovered music while there. Mom’s advice is why I’m here today in a church I love that’s part of a mission I love, serving God who I love married to the woman I love with great kids that I love.
That was mom’s advice. I acted on it, yes. But if she hadn’t given it, my life would have gone a totally different direction. I shutter to think of the direction I was heading.
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom literature. Ancient societies, before people in general could read and write, in ancient societies elders would often write down the most important truths and values, key lessons for life.
Often these lessons had to do with families, so the proverbs are often from father to son or from mother to son. Of course the proverbs apply just as well to daughters. I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs on your own time. There’s a treasure of understand in this book.