Moms. They are our champions. Whether it is your actual Mom or someone who simply pulls you into their circle and treats you like their child, like the best teachers do, they are fiercely and ferociously for us. They provide us with the unfathomable, unconditional love that we typically only receive from one Other Place, far above this one. Sure we Dads and dudes are capable of this too. In fact, some of us believe there was one Guy, roughly 2000 years ago that was THE BEST at the unconditional love thing! Whether you recognize that as your truth or not, nearly everyone agrees the best Moms are the ones that, typically, embody this most closely in our tangible, everyday lives.
I’ll never forget the day an otherwise pretty typical, albeit slightly on the nerdy side, 6’4″ 260 lb man sat in my driveway balling his eyes out. It stands out in my memory so firmly, because it was me. I had just finished listening to the classic TED talk embedded below: Every Kid Needs A Champion, and it was one of those moments when you simply feel out of place and time, swept away by your emotions. It was one of those times the feelings crash over you, uncontrollably, like a relentless succession of waves on a storm-ravaged beach and you just have to let them land because you have no choice. I remember this feeling of “watching myself” and wondering how ridiculous I must look sitting there crying in my driveway. The tears were tears of joy. They were tears of relief born of a profound recognition that, though I thought for so many years I was doing things on my own, I was never truly alone. I learned on that day in my driveway, what I had always known, often had intellectually acknowledged, but never felt to its full depth and breadth until that moment. I immediately sent a note to some of my church leaders and friends who I felt helped me find my way to this revelation: that I was never on my own. I was very grateful for them and what God was showing me at that moment.
At that moment, all at once, I recognized that I had always had people sent into my corner, the entire 46 years (at the time) I had been on this earth. The largest part of the reason for the powerful impact this had was because I was waking up spiritually, I was recognizing God’s hand in picking those champions. Part of it was because every single one of them treated me like a Mom. They were my champions.
It is cliche to say that my life flashed before my eyes, but that is exactly what happened. I saw person after person, some men and some women who were there for me when I needed them most. The vast majority of these flashes, especially the ones from my childhood and young adulthood, were women. Nearly all of those women were Moms. The feelings I was experiencing as the flashing went on were the feelings born of the protection, strength, unconditional love and support that gets channeled through Moms and “Mom-like figures” to us from an otherworldly realm and well of Love. I know there are folks that doubt this, I was one of them for a long time, but there is simply no other explanation for the wherewithal it takes to put up with all the crap we throw at these folks and what they give in return. They simply can’t be doing this completely on their own and just keep giving the way they do.
One of the earliest flashes after my grandmother, mom and aunts were of my middle school History teacher, Ms. Makin. Ms. Makin was my champion at one of the times when I needed one the most. She saw that I was struggling.
Just to give you a snapshot, at one point in middle school, not only were we on food stamps and living quite literally on the other side of the tracks, but I was getting the &%^$ kicked out of me at the bus stop. It may have been because I was the epitome of the awkward, spindly teen, wearing hand me downs and girls jeans to school (The Salvation Army rarely had boy jeans for the picking back then?) At this moment in development, when you think everyone is looking at you, I happened to have warts all over my hands, eyes, and body. Just for a little icing on the poop-cake, I hadn’t started puberty yet while it seemed everyone else around me had a deep baritone and the facial hair of Magnum PI! At home, we had no toothpaste or toilet paper half the time, the mosquitoes took up permanent residence in our house in the summer and the cold froze us out in the winter. I could go on, but you get the idea. I, quite literally, wanted to end my life.
The school was not my sanctuary, far from it, but Ms. Makin was. She was one of the people who treated me like a Mom and became my champion. She made me her “assistant.” I cleaned her room during her planning period and she used that time to encourage me. As I cleaned the desks in her room (and yes the featured image is middle school John in her class,) she talked to me as if I was created to have a bright future. She helped me see that this was not the end of my journey, but just the beginning. She built me up while the world was (at least in my mind) tearing me down. I don’t want to take away anything from my own Mom as I know she tried to do the very same thing and I love her for it, but it is always somehow more validating when it is someone that isn’t biologically required to love you like a Mom but does anyway. Whether it is our biological mom, someone who is acting as a co-mom or someone who is standing in for an absent mom, we are better because of them. They fill our tank when it is empty and have our back when no one else does.
As I alluded to earlier, Ms. Makin was far from the last of these champions, I have been blessed with so many in my life that I fear I would miss one if I tried to name them all. I still have many of these women in my life, some have been there for decades and some just a few years. I am related to some, some are at work, some are at church, some have now morphed into Facebook friends. A few of these ladies are older and a few are these sort of sister-friend-mom hybrids (and yes it takes a village with me, I get it).
What they all have in common is that they have been and will always be my champions. I will always feel the resonance of that wave of love that crashed over me that day when I think of any one of them. They will always be, along with the Mom of my biological origin, my Moms. I love them all very much and they know exactly who and what they are to me. I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank any of you who are this kind of champion to someone or several someones in your life and wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day, every single day of the year.
Are you being called to be someone’s champion/mom? If so, follow that call, you never know what path (or driveway) it may lead to!