My incredible mother's birthday is this Tuesday, and while I set out to write a post about all of the amazing things she has taught me in this life, I realized that no post in the world could do her positive influence on my life justice. So, I am going to choose to hone in on two very important things that she has infused in me since my birth --> faith and serving others. From the moment I was born, I was a regular member at my mom's Circle meetings. For those unfamiliar, Circle is a group within the Christian church that sets out to serve the church and community in every way possible. As I grew up and ran into members of this particular Circle, they would talk kindly about how happy they were that my mom would bring me in my little bonnets to every meeting, and how patiently I would lay in her arms as they spoke about ways to serve others.
She was not content on letting me just attend these meetings, though. Oh no, my mother made sure to bring me along to every moment she served the community. From a young age, I would visit the nursing homes in my hometown with her on a regular basis. I became friends with the patients, crawling onto their laps and listening to their stories. Since the majority of these patients were well into their nineties, I also experienced death at a young age. I quickly had to learn to how to cope through my faith with losing someone near and dear, which eventually became an immense help when I lost my own sister.
One incredibly important thing to note about my mother is that she not only taught me how to serve, but she led by example. I had the pleasure of watching a young mother get all of her kids to church every Sunday, visit nursing homes multiple times per week and find ways in her everyday life to make everyone's life around her just a little bit easier. I was able to witness her instill faith in others through her stories and positive approach to life paired with a strong faith in God. My mom didn't just hand me a list of instructions and wish me luck, she showed me what it looked like to be a faithfully good person in every moment of my life, no matter how tenuous the circumstances.
I am who I am today because I had a mother that showed by example how to survive life's messy moments in the most graceful way. Into my adulthood, my mom has only continued to blow me away with her supernatural strength. I've witnessed my mom survive cancer, lose a daughter and help another escape an abusive marriage. Through it all, she has kept her head high and has never, ever forgotten her dedication to serving others. Her life ministry has now shifted from Circle outreach to an everyday outreach in which she looks for opportunities in every moment to reach out to someone in need.
Just this past Autumn, I was visiting my mother and decided not to go into Whole Foods while she ran into pick up some stuff for dinner. I waited and waited. Finally, the man in the truck parked next to us came back out, and told me that he expected my mom to be back out before him. He mentioned that he saw her talking to a woman inside, and she must have gotten caught up in the conversation.
Forty-five minutes, and one frustrated me later, my mom emerged. She hadn't answered my calls, or come out sooner, because she had met someone in line who looked like she was having a bad day. The conversation led to this woman confiding to my mom that she might not survive even one more day because she didn't want to live with taking care of her wheelchair-bound, verbally abusive mother anymore. My mom was able to talk her through it, and offered to help her in anyway possible, even if it meant driving down to Madison to help her get groceries, or just sit with her mom so the woman could have a break.
A few days later, the woman explained that her mother wanted to visit Door County (incredibly beautiful place to visit, if you haven't!), and asked my mom if she'd be willing to help her get her mother there. A week later, my mom was in the car, driving these two women up to Door County for a few days.
This is the type of woman my mother is, and this is the type of woman I aspire to be. I am so blessed to have not only her wisdom in words, but her leadership by example, in my life. She empowers me to be the best version of myself everyday, and gives me something to reach for through her life's ministry.
She jokes around with me, always saying, "I am still deciding what I want to be when I grow up." I always giggle and laugh it off, because she's already leading one of the greatest life ministries I have ever witnessed in my life. I can tell you one thing, I want to be just like her when I grow up.
Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you.
- Marji J. Sherman