I was probably about eighteen years old when I discovered my mom’s journal. I certainly wasn’t looking for it – I just happened to notice it nestled between the hundreds of books on our wall-length bookshelves. Every so often, I went to the lower level of our house to peruse the books to see if there was anything I could read. On that day, I found the most important piece of writing on those shelves.
My mom has never been much for journal writing – at least not to my knowledge. She was an open book, and I knew all about her life and desires. She hid nothing from her only daughter. So when I picked up this leather-bound journal and flipped through the half-written pages, I was a little confused to say the least. What did she feel so compelled to write about within only the first thirty pages of this journal?
The curiosity overwhelmed me. I knew I shouldn’t have read her private words, but I had to know more.
Prayers. That’s what the journal contained in those few pages. With each entry, she started off with Dear God and shared for one to two more pages. As I unashamedly skimmed to look for just the “good stuff,” I discovered that my mom found a way to communicate more intimately with her God. This is so sincere! I thought.
I was about to put the journal back on the shelf until I paused at the last entry, which was written three years prior. This particular entry was lengthier than the others and more raw. In this prayer, my mom wrote one confession that I NEVER heard her say aloud.
I am filled with a lot of regret. As I look back, I wish that I would’ve taught my children more about You. I wish I would’ve taught them how to pray to You and how great You really are. Now that they are growing up, I’m afraid it’s too late.
This astounded me. I thought I knew everything about my mom, but I didn’t know this. Did she really have regret? I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but sympathy for her was the first emotion I could feel.
My mom proceeded to share all the ways she attempted to teach us about God, from attending church here and there to praying at the dinner table once in a while. To her, it just wasn’t enough. What she didn’t know, though, was that it actually was.
My journey towards finding my own belief system was certainly a roller coaster ride throughout my life; however, now that I’m in my thirties, I see the world differently and I also see my faith differently.
The root of that all began with my mom. See, her desire to believe in God and draw closer to Him has always been in existence. I could see that even when I was a small child, only I was too young to understand that all along, she was planting seeds within me that wouldn’t harvest until my adulthood. In that moment, my eighteen-year-old mind knew it, and now my mid-thirty-year-old mind knows it even more.
I’m not yet a mother, and I certainly don’t claim to know what it feels like to regret how one has raised her children. I cannot pretend to understand the feeling of missing the mark as a parent, so I can’t really contribute to that conversation. But as a mother’s daughter, I want to encourage all the mom’s who may resonate with these feelings: Even the smallest attempts that you’ve made have planted seeds within your children.
My continuous pursuit of drawing closer to God has a foundation that began many years ago by watching my mom. She didn’t always get it right, and that’s okay. I don’t, either. But her willingness to try has turned the tide on not only myself, but also her future grandchildren. My mother passed the baton to me, and I will one day pass it down to my children. She sparked generational change and didn’t even know it.
When I finally closed her journal that day, I felt thankful. My mom was given a purpose when she raised us and is now seeing it manifested. This gives me hope to believe that even in what we perceive to be a failure, there is triumph.