Sunday, October 10, 2010
A Mother's Doubts
I’ll share more about my dad in coming days because his birthday is at the end of October, but today I want to write about something with my mom that I still find inspiring. I had shared with my friend this week about the difficult days that surrounded her last week here on earth with us, but my focus in this writing backtracks about three months or so.
When my mother passed away, she was 81 years old. She had never been a particularly religious person, and the only time she ever took me to church was for a few short weeks after my brother died when I was seven years old. She was a loyal person toward her family, and loved me deeply. However, she was often rather gruff, and she cussed a great deal in between puffs of cigarette smoke.
I was born when she was nearly 40 years old, and when I became a Christian as a teenager (thanks to a wonderful neighbor—Emma Ogletree—and a persistent youth minister—Mike Runcie), she was pleased but did not show any interest of her own in pursuing spiritual things. Of course, as I grew older I often encouraged her to look to God. Sometimes I was encouraging, and sometimes, as I look back now, I was just plain obnoxious. Thank goodness that wisdom often overtakes the ignorant zeal of youth!
Over the years, despite my encouragement and pleas, she always held back any apparent desire to develop her own relationship with God. She had reasons and excuses…and, she was stubborn.
When she moved in with us in January of 1999, I had become a little numb to the idea that she might really begin to seek God on her own, but still there was a lingering hope. This hope was realized in 2003, after a number of serious health issues, and after she had been surrounded by our family and our friends for several years. She finally began to open up and share her heart…and her doubts.
What became known is that she really did want to know God, but she had doubts. She doubted her own ability to maintain her faith in Him, and she had doubts about God Himself. Lots of “WHYs” and “WHY NOTs.” By this time, she was studying the Bible with an good friend (Jean Keim), but she just couldn’t seem to get past her doubts.
But, then…..I think God did a number on her doubts.
Nope, it wasn’t a miracle. He just sent someone to deliver a message who didn’t know he was being used that day.
Mom was in the hospital, and another one of our friends, Dan Lafever stopped in to visit her. For whatever reason, he and my mother got to talking about her faith and her studies. In essence, she told him that she wanted to believe, but she just had lingering doubts. Dan responded by sharing a passage of scripture that came to his mind. It is found in Mark 9. In the story, a man has a child in need of the help of Jesus. The man said something to the effect of “If you can, please help him.” Jesus responded by saying that to him who believes everything is possible. That is where the key message to my mother is found, because the man responds by saying: “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”
There it was; a situation where someone expressed their faith, but confessed their doubts and asked for help. Jesus responded by healing the man’s son.
My mom found her doorway to faith. She found that she could admit her doubts, respond to God, and then move forward in the faith that she had. She was baptized a few days later. That was August. She passed on to spend time with her savior in early December.
I often find that situation and that passage very inspiring because we all have doubts. It seems that our society is plagued by people whose mission in life it is to try to create doubt in the minds of believers. However, it isn’t the doubts themselves that are the problem, so much as the fact that Christians often find themselves crippled by the guilt that accompanies them. There are doubts in the back of the mind, so the disciple of Jesus feels inadequate or unworthy to allow his or her faith to become known to others and useful to God.
Let me just say that I’ve learned from my mom that the thing to do is to quote the father from the story. “God, I believe. Help my unbelief!” Do that and move on with the faith you have. Like the story of the talents…those who use what they have will be given more with which to build. Your faith will grow. God reaches out to those who reach out to Him.
Below is a poem I wrote about my mom after she had passed:
Visions of Mom
By Mike DeCamp
Visions of Mom flow through my mind
Memories of home, all mixed and combined
If I entered her kitchen by the open back door,
I’d often be fed and come back for more
Big bubbling pots of potato soup
Big wacky cakes with an ice cream scoop
Then, out in back we’d go for a rest
Sippin’ tea in the shade with mom at her best
We’d laugh, we’d joke, we’d argue and fuss
In the end, we’d smile, ‘cause that’s just us
Now, she’s moved on, and these memories I love
I can take comfort from knowing she’s happy above