I have a mother; I am a mother. I know my mother wants what’s best for me, and I want the same for my own kids. But “best” is a subjective term, isn’t it? What I think is best for my kids is not often anything they’re remotely interested in doing.

I bring forth the Clemence Potty Training Episodes of 2005-6 and 2007-9 as evidence of this. We won’t go into details, but I now refuse to speak to a few people who have potty trained their children in one easy day. Taken them right off my Christmas card list. Because potty training my children emotionally scarred me for the rest of my earthly days.

Normal mother-child relationships are sticky enough, but when you throw God’s will (such a high and mighty term) into the mix, things can get really, really complicated. In every Christ follower’s life there are going to be times we need to do something weird/complicated/difficult/messy for the sake of what we hear God asking us to do.

Following Jesus is so rarely easy. It wouldn’t be referred to as “taking up our cross” if it was easy.

Home schooling? Not easy. Not simple. (But neither is public school, for the record.)

Adopting children? Expensive and complicated.

Giving up a good job to dedicate more time to the children? Wasting a perfectly good college education? Makes no sense to the normal, modern parent’s way of thinking. 

Selling the house to move the family to India to be missionaries at a school for orphans? Wow. I don’t even know what I’d do if one of my kids pulled that one out of a hat. Freak out for a while, probably. Research living conditions in India and then lobby hard for months until they gave up, probably.

It turns out that a mother’s opinion doesn’t count much when God’s plan invades our life. You’re going to have to tell your mother God has plans she might not like. I have a long tradition of pointing out problems and then offering you completely useless advice on how to deal with the situation. Here, let me continue my efforts:

how to tell your mother

How to tell your mother:

  • Skywriting. I know, airplanes are expensive to rent and it’s hard to make the letters turn out right. That’s the beauty of this plan! You tried– you’re not responsible for the wind or weather. So if “Mom, I’m going back to school to be a cop because God told me to” turns to “Mo I lsdkfjaow;efj awoeifj w,” what can you do?
  • Opera. Have you ever wanted to learn Italian and then put that lovely language to music? Do you have a song bursting forth from your breast? Now’s the time to use it. “Mamma, sto lasciando il college per diventare un custode in un rifugio per senzatetto nel cattivo vicinato” put to an aria sounds so much prettier than the screaming fight you might have over pot roast when you tell your mom you’re leaving college to become the custodian at a homeless shelter in the inner city.
  • Code. If your mom loves puzzles and games, set your mind to creating the most complicated and imaginative code you can contrive. By the time she figures it out your fifth baby will have already been born and she will hardly notice.
  • Write it into a secondary plot in your novel. Write “hint, hint” on the cover of the book and mail it to her.
  • Start a rumor about yourself (otherwise known as the “making a request on the prayer chain” in evangelical circles). ((Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)) Your congregation probably has some sort of email prayer chain. Make a vague, anonymous request and see where it goes from there. Probably by the time it gets to Mom the truth will be a welcome relief. “Oh, you’re going back to school to be a minister? Thank God! I heard you were starting a clown ministry on the beaches of Nicaragua!”

What else? What did I miss? If you’ve ever had to tell your mother difficult news, I’d love to hear how you did it!

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