How do you say good-bye to your mother?

68For me, maybe the hardest good-bye was last summer, when Mom and Dad left my apartment in Denver after hearing of the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) diagnosis from the doctor. That was hard to swallow. And we all left that day in tears.

It is still hard to understand, and I will not know the answers here on earth, but I can say this because of the spiritual foundation that Mom helped shape in me: God didn’t need another flower in heaven. He didn’t need another angel in the choir. Father God didn’t take my Mom away. Death and destruction is not something that God is in the business of… rather, He is all about life and life abundant. And that is something I can say with full confidence that Mom experienced. It is the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.

So, instead of dwelling on the loss of this week, I choose to focus on the incredible gift of life. Mom taught me so many things through her example:

She taught me what relentless love feels like. No matter what kind of poor decisions I made as teenager and young man, she always loved me wholeheartedly — always believing the best in me. If you talked to her, you might believe that I walk on water. She really knew how to love.

She taught me how to find a light in the darkest situations. Her faith never wavered. Not even when it got tough. She had a sure foundation, which was very instrumental in my own faith, and the faith of many others. She lived and breathed with a faith that can move mountains.

She spent her life loving God. From as long as I can remember, Mom and Dad got up early to pray and read God’s Word in the early morning hours. She has always had a habit of praying for, not only her needs, but also for the favor, protection and spiritual health of her family and loved ones. She modeled to me the power and importance of prayer and putting God first in everything.

She spent her life loving others. The Gospel in a nutshell. She loved and spoiled my kids like they were her own. Her siblings have shared with me how she cared for them as a sort of second mother. And she cared for her daycare kids like they were her own. Selfless to her core. She was made to love.

She spent her life speaking truth. The seeds she’s sown into my life and the life of my children and loved ones are irreplaceable. One of the more memorable ones she was known to always share was the simple phrase: “Push your love button!” If one of the kids was being grumpy or upset or mean — or even if it it was me — she would remind us all to “push our love buttons.” And if anybody within earshot started speaking negatively about any circumstance she would always remind us to “speak life.” Those two messages alone are deep enough to live our lives by.

Another truth she taught me that has shaped my life deeply: you can choose your attitude. If I were grumpy, mad or sad, she would remind me that I can speak to my innermost being and say, “Why so downcast, oh my soul?!” Maybe that’s why I’m smiling all of the time?

She taught me the value of keeping things clean and organized. I’ve never been as good as staying on top of this as Mom, but it is definitely a value. I’m at peace when the house is clean and things are put away in their place. If you knew Mom well, you know that she would always talk about sorting the toys so the kids would be able to play again.

She was a memory-maker. I have so many great memories of all the places we went and the things we did over the years.

And she was an equipper. She made it her mission to make sure I could reach and live my dreams. And I’m not the only one. There were many others she helped along their journey — the hands and feet of Jesus.

So how do you say good-bye to your mother? I don’t think I can and I don’t think I will.

She is so happy right now. She is so faithful. Loved the Lord so much — with all her heart. And that has shaped me and made me who I am today. And so I will do my best to carry on her legacy of loving God with everything that is in me and loving people as best as I can.

So “push your love buttons”, People. And “speak life”.


Shawn Michael

Husband, father, musician, pastor, Internet junkie, and Foursquare District NextGen Rep for the Gateway District