Don’t give up on yourself because I will not give up on you.
This simple phrase to me is the most important “yes” I have ever had to say in motherhood. The yes to not give up on figuring out exactly what my children need to thrive in this world. The yes to being their advocate, their biggest fan, their most diligent supporter even when it is difficult. It’s a yes I have already said a million times a day internally as I’ve watched my boys navigate their short lives thus far. It’s the simple yes to show up again and again no matter how rough the waters may get.
Though I’ve thought these words a lot in the last seven years of parenting, I first said them aloud to my oldest son a couple months ago during a time when he was struggling with adjustment to this academic year. Masks and social distancing and plexiglass have brought challenges and hiccups to all students. In his case, however, these things compounded the challenges he already faced being a deaf child in a hearing world. He used to rely a lot on reading lips to help him fill in the blanks of any sounds his hearing aids missed. Now, with that gone, he relies a lot on the words picked up by his aids and his own seven year old deductive reasoning. This compounded with other learning challenges in the classroom has made it a rough go for him.
One day, we were working through a particularly frustrating study session, and he ran out of the room saying he couldn’t do it. He was crying, I was crying. I found myself saying aloud: “Don’t give up on yourself because I will not give up on you.” Over and over again I spoke my yes right into his ears.
This yes sprang from my lips with more conviction in that moment than anything I had ever uttered before. However, it’s a yes I have had to renew daily ever since. There are times I get so frustrated trying to figure out how exactly to be my sons’ advocate and, at the same time, allow them to grow up to be their own advocates as well. There are times when it feels so incredibly difficult that I have to pause and ask God to help me renew my yes along the way.
When I think about Mary’s yes to the angel alongside my own experience of motherhood, her original yes to giving birth to the Son of God, I struggle to see that moment as her most important or most difficult yes. In fact, I wonder if Mary had to utter the exact same words to Jesus as I did to my own sons at many points along the way: “Don’t give up on yourself because I won’t give up on you.” When he was learning to walk, did Mary hold his hands and encourage him to take another step forward even when he fell? When he was learning to speak, did Mary model for him how words looked upon her own lips and sounded through the timber of her own voice every time he struggled to make a new sound? When he was learning to make friends as a young child, did Mary remind him that making friends was not always easy but worth the effort of continuing to try? Of course she did.
When she stood and watched her son walk the road to Calvary, I imagined she whispered once more into the wind: “Despite knowing there are those that have given up on you, don’t give up on yourself. I am still here. I have not given up on you.” This, to me, is the yes that mattered most in the life of Jesus. This, to me, is the yes that matters most in the lives of both children and adults today. It’s the yes that says you matter in this world. It’s the yes that says you are not alone. It’s the yes that gives you what you need to keep going.
Let Mary be our guide to saying this very important yes to those we love: “Don’t give up on yourself because I will never give up on you.” I imagine this is the message God wants to give us daily. It’s the message God wants to utter through our lips so that others can hear and believe in the truth of it.
So hear this from me today “Don’t give up on yourself because God will never give up on you.”
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- Daily Step: The Hope of Mary’s Yes
- Mary Showed Me Jesus’ Humanity
- Mary’s Lesson of the Present Moment
Photo by Adina Voicu on Pixabay