The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Proverbs 29, verse 15.
Listen to your mother. That’s what most of us have heard at one time or another. Listen to you mother for a lot of different reasons. There’s that 5th Commandment reason about honoring our mother (and father); that’s part of it. There’s the fact that she’s experienced and she might just know what she’s talking about. There’s the history between you, and the fact (that mothers are quick to tell) that “I carried you for nine months and childbirth is no walk in the park!” There’s also the biggest fact of all that, well, she’s mom and she probably loves you. We should listen to our mothers because their correction imparts wisdom.
We should also listen to them because, when we disregard their advice, we disgrace them. Men who have affairs disgrace all the women in their lives, but first of all their mothers even if their moms are long gone. Women who lie to get ahead at work disgrace the women who mentored them, especially their moms whose example should be best in their lives. Boys who fight without reason disgrace the moms who love them best. Girls who act like cats or are catty with other girls disgrace the ladies who usually show the better angels of our nature (thank you Mr. Lincoln).
Left to our own devices, without boundaries, we cut loose. Moms instill those boundaries into us, teaching them and inculcating our lives with knowledge of them. That teaching usually always calls us back to walking the straight and narrow, and that’s what God designed for them to do. Brush your teeth, do your best, try again, love your family, don’t give up, be patient, listen, read your Bible, check it again, follow the directions, try to understand, forgive her, be a man: who hasn’t heard things like this from their mother? There’s a good reason. She knows what she’s talking about. It’s the unique, cherished and special mission given to her by God Himself. Left alone on your own, before you know your way in the world, would you stand much chance for success?
It hurts to be corrected. It hurts just as much to be alone and have our conscience be the one that corrects us, always pointing to us what we’ve done wrong. Moms know this, and it hurts a mom to have to correct a kid, grown or infant alike. Most moms do it, though, because most moms know it’s better to have a wise child than a child who’s unwise all their life. They do it out of the mission of their love, that mission of love imparted to them. I’ve said it before that the best compliment a child can give a parent is to be godly, independent and self-reliant. It’s a compliment I learned from my mom.
Besides, who hasn’t weathered a harsh stare from mom after we’ve done something wrong? Even the most bull-headed son can wither like a weed under a magnifying glass in the staring gaze of a mom who’s been crossed. It’s can be a real Tyler Perry moment…
…or it can be a Mary of Nazareth moment too. Even the Son of God had a mother. I wonder what it must have been like for Mary. We know the Nativity story and of the times she was mentioned in Christ’s ministry, like at Cana and during His crucifixion. We can be sure that Christ didn’t do anything to disgrace His mother, but I do believe that, being fully man, in learning His trade and how to live in the world He learned much from His mother. I wonder what she thought of these things? All we really know is that she kept things in her heart and pondered them. Mary wasn’t just a mother, or Ave Maria, or the Blessed Mother of the Divine. No, Mary was a mom too. The rod she saw on her Son wasn’t to correct anything, except maybe all the wrongs He had never done but we had.
I can’t even begin to imagine how she must have felt about that. Can you imagine seeing your first-born son being tortured, after God Himself had chosen to have this miraculous relationship with you alone in all of history, knowing that He was enduring it for reasons you could only begin to fathom? Mary saw her Savior tortured on that cross, and she saw the awesome man born of that miracle decades before. But don’t forget she also saw her little boy there being murdered. When God the Father Almighty chose to become a man, he could have done it by simply appearing in love and majesty. He could have done so in a way that demonstrated the full glory of His power. But He didn’t. He chose to have a mom, and to live His life in ways to honor her and that. It made all the difference in the world.
One word for it: amazing.
We fathers look at the world in a certain way, and it brings me no joy to punish my kids or even to admonish them, especially since I’ve been gone so much of their lives. Sometimes that’s necessary, though, especially since it truly grieves me to no end to think of them doing things that need correction and then how their behavior will disappoint their mother. I don’t like seeing that, or even thinking about it, so sometimes I’ve been known to be a harsh man, even a harsh disciplinarian. At least I was in the past. These days, since they’re older, I don’t discipline the kids as much; I don’t need to. Still, occasionally it comes up and it’s necessary and I don’t like doing it.
I wonder how my wife feels about it. And my mom. I wonder how she felt. It’s a loving thing to rebuke, to correct, and to do so wisely and in love. Moms know this best because they instinctively know theirs is a divine role and a divine mission. When we mess up our part our mission, we do so at risk of disgracing our mothers. They’re one good reason for the constant gut-check of prayer, thanksgiving, and grace. Listen to your mother, and be thankful God put her in your life as He did.