I <3 (♥) Mom

May 1, 2012

Louisville

A monthly column for the church-at-large by Elder Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This month, the column is written by the Reverend Landon Whitsitt, Vice-Moderator of the 219th General Assembly.

On important days like birthdays, graduations, and Mother’s Day, my mom and I play a game. We race to be the first one to call the other and acknowledge the day.

It began a few years ago when, um… a “friend of mine” (yes, that’ll do) forgot to call his mother on her birthday. Rather than be hurt, she called him to say, “Happy birthday to me!” This “friend of mine” made it up to her the following year when he phoned her on the West Coast at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. 

My relationship with my mom hasn’t always been smooth. There were times of strife to go along with the good friendship we have now. At no time, however, did I ever assume that my mom would not be my mom. It’s a truth of life that I accept without thinking about it.

St. Augustine famously called the church our “Mother.” I would suggest that many have the same relationship with the church as they do their biological mothers. Sometimes, the church feels bossy and overbearing. Sometimes, too lenient. Hopefully, we arrive at a point of a healthy relationship with the church, just as most of us do with our moms.

I was once part of what I would consider an overbearing church. I have also been part of one that I deemed too lenient. Now, I think I’m at a healthy place regarding the church as a place that helps me experience Christ and keeps me honest. I’m a better person because of it.

I have a tattoo of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seal on my arm. People ask me what I would do if we split and got a new symbol. Honestly, I don’t worry. I love our church. I chose it on purpose. I regard my tat as the churchy version of “I <3 (♥) Mom.”

But I’m under no illusions that the PC(USA) is the epitome of what God intends. To paraphrase the Christian musician Rich Mullins, we’ve got just as many problems as everyone else, so we might as well make the best of what we’ve got. Likewise, my mom is great. She’s not perfect, but she’s my mom. For that, I’m glad.

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