Women do a lot of work: Moms, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, daughters, wives, teachers, coaches, and any additional caregiving, mentoring position that fills in our lives. Take a moment to pause and reflect on the number of women who have helped you become the person you are today.
In the latest Shriver Report, NBA star LeBron James writes a meaningful tribute to his mother, Gloria, honoring her dedication as a parent and the sacrifices she made in raising her son as a young single mom. Because Gloria was just 16 years old when LeBron was born, they lived with his grandmother. When Gloria’s mother passed away three years later, she and her young son were on their own.
Still a teenager, Gloria did not have the support, education, or resources to sustain her family. The house was lost, and she and her son moved around frequently — a dozen times in three years — counts LeBron.
He writes that “My mom worked anywhere and everywhere, trying to make ends meet. But through all of that, I knew one thing for sure: I had my mother to blanket me and to give me security. She was my mother, my father, my everything. She put me first. I knew that no matter what happened, nothing and nobody was more important to her than I was. I went without a lot of things, but never for one second did I feel unimportant or unloved.”
In effort to model Gloria’s example of devotion, LeBron now takes an active role by helping other kids of single-parent homes through the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“The truth is that everything I’ve learned about being a parent to my boys … I learned from my mother,” he writes in his letter of appreciation to her. “Everything I know about being loving and caring, and sacrificing and showing up and being present in my children’s lives—I learned all of that from her example.”
Without his mother’s influence, would LeBron be the same LeBron?
Augustine, an early church father, converted to Christianity after his mother, Monica, prayed for years. Without her life-example, Augustine would not be the crucial figure of the Christian faith that he remains today.
Likewise, Scripture also shows us the importance of a mother-mentoring relationship. Take Ruth and Naomi, for example. Ruth married Naomi’s son, and when he died, Naomi released Ruth to return to her parent’s home and native culture. Ruth “clung to Naomi,” and would have none of it, famously declaring “where you go I will go, where you live I will live, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
As a mother-in-law, Naomi had so impacted Ruth’s life that even given the chance to return home to what she knew, to her own house and gods and comforts after the tragedy of losing her husband, she remained at Naomi’s side. Naomi’s influence on Ruth, particularly her spiritual mentorship, led Ruth to claim God as her own God. And it was through the family line of Ruth that Jesus was ultimately born.
When I think of Jesus’ words about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick, my mind immediately sees the image of a mother. This description of activities sounds like any mom with kids in the house! So, thank you, moms, and all of our mother figures and caregivers. You are doing the Lord’s work! And God sees and honors that, even when it all goes un-thanked and unnoticed.
Thank you all for your sacrifices. Thank you for giving out of your own time, money, and resources. Thank you for often going without so others can have.
You make the world a better place by showing us how to be better people. We honor you.
Anna Hall is campaigns assistant for Sojourners.
Image: Mother and daughter, Warren Goldswain / Shutterstock.com