Friends don’t understand why I have become so picky with who I date. They think I have some imaginary list full of superficial items that can be withstood if I really wanted marriage. Some think my expectations are too high. Some think I am looking for the perfect woman. In actuality, I am looking for someone who is as dedicated to God as my mother. Let me introduce you to Ms. Kim, the first place I noticed where God was.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been in a church. I was baptized at Bethany, in Baker, Louisiana. I attended Heavenbound under Pastor Brian. Our church homes varied, but the consistency was us being in the house of the Lord on Sunday morning. My mother made it a point to take us. Attendance was nonnegotiable. 46 out of the 52 Sundays in a year were spent hearing the Gospel.
She’d tell us all the time that her heart posture changed after giving birth to her first son. She knew she needed God’s help to be the best mother she could be. She gave her life to Him and allowed God to guide her on how to raise and protect men. The more she changed, the harder it became to maintain the relationships she had, even her marriage. Without realizing it, she was going through her pruning years. Old things had to die, and those who chose to remain associated with them fell away. Unfortunately, that was how she became a single mother of three boys.
For my mother, Christianity wasn’t just going to church on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays. It was our culture. We read our Bibles. We had Bible Study. We took turns naming as many Bible characters as we could on road trips. We’d listen to Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Men of Standard, Smokie Norful, Take 6, Fred Hammond, and other gospel artists. I grew up on “Something About the Name Jesus” because my mother made sure we weren’t influenced by others.
The only genre that managed to stay in rotation was her favorite: R&B. Even then, she’d never play the vulgar songs. I remember hearing her frustration when an artist would curse on a good song. She’d remove the CD or song from the playlist shortly after. She didn’t want us cursing like she used to.
I can’t tell you the last time my mother cursed. I watched her change her language as she aged. She cursed like a sailor before my brothers and I were born. When I was cognizant of her word choice, the old ways only emerged whenever she was mad. When we reached our teens, I couldn’t remember hearing a single explicit word, even when she was angry. She intently removed that language from her vocabulary… or she kept it from our ears. Either way, she made sure she changed in ways that we would notice and follow after.
My mother’s change in vocabulary was one of the reasons I believed she truly wanted to do better by God. Where other adults began to curse more as we grew up, she cursed less. She was very self-aware of her voice in our lives. She took it upon herself to be more Christlike.
One of the truest evidences of a God-filled life is that of character change. It’s not just the breaking away of bad habits, but it’s the beginning of picking up good ones. My mother had a sharp tongue, which she used often. As time passed, and she spent more time with God, I noticed less things managing to draw it out of her. It wasn’t an incorrect bill or a person who spoke to her any kind of way anymore. She was more at peace and knew how to maintain her peace, and her mouth, in stressed situations. She remained within herself more often, and less and less power was given to other things. Nowadays, if she uses her sharp tongue, it confuses people because she’s normally a sweet person.
Even the spankings dwindled as she grew. She took her time. She talked with us. She listened more. She didn’t try to hold onto the little boys. She let us become men.
You grow up thinking your parents are going to be who they are your whole life, but my mom changed. The process took years, but my mom is not who she was when I first acknowledged her individuality apart from motherhood. The same can’t be said for a lot of adults I’ve met. Some adults I know from 1996 are still behaving the same way as if there is no issue with being unwilling and unable to mature.
As much I saw her grow, I saw the reasons why. I witnessed my mother broken from fighting for the people she loved over and over. She was a single mother with three sons. Necessities didn’t come easy, let alone friendships and relationships. Still, she bought homes, got a degree, increased our societal status, and kept food in the refrigerator. If you know how much growing male athletes eat, you know how hard that is to do.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that she admitted she sometimes went to bed hungry. As a kid, you don’t really notice when the pantry is empty. You look to the parent to refill it. I can’t remember how long it was empty. I just remember always having food.
Despite achieving such things, life still had its ups and downs. People walked in and out of her life, or had to be forced out. It became increasingly difficult to maintain relationships the closer she came to God. The closer Elohim was, the less she was willing to step outside of Him. The closer she was to Immanuel, the less people wanted to be around. She wasn’t the same, for good reason, but they couldn’t accept her blooming. I didn’t understand it before, but as I’ve grown in my walk with Christ, I now understand.
People are not willing to change their music, their movies, their friends, their homes, or their thoughts for God. Not many will look inwardly to study their habits and research ways to change for the better. Not everyone is willing to serve during Sunday service, attend Wednesday Bible study, or have daily Bible readings, and these people go to church every week. Many Christians do not allow God to prune them. They remain immature Christians decades into their walk with God. They stop at baptism and never try to be perfected in Christ.
My mother matured. Her Bible studies are way more in-depth than they were when I was a kid. She attended theology school just so she could understand the Bible, and God, better. She leads a Bible study of her own, works with the audio personnel at church, and would sing in the choir if she was able. She has always been the model Christian for me before most pastors, elders, deacons, and bishops. She stands amongst my most solid Christians and she is one of my first spiritual advisors.
Not only is she very wise, but she is very strong. As I stated, she had battled. Every time she was knocked down, she stood back up. I wish I could tell you of the many things she’s survived, but she is not one to share her business and I am not the one to share it for her. Suffice it to say, she embodies the strong, Black woman trait very heavily. She also embodies the spirit of Deborah, Naomi, Peter, Ezra, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In addition to her strength and wisdom, she has beauty. I really believe my mother has not aged since 30. She has always been considered my sister, or my date, before my mother. She receives these compliments while rarely using makeup. Her youthful beauty remains. She truly does not look like what she’s been through.
Every birthday, I am shocked back into reality because my mother is not as young as she used to be, and I need to prepare to be there for her if she needs it. However, as strong as she is, I know she will not need me for a few more decades, God-willing. She maintains her youthfulness by staying active and eating right. She keeps up with us younger folk just fine.
While Ms. Kim is all these amazing things, I do not want to make it seem like she’s perfect. She is human, and she needs Jesus just like the rest of us. The picture I wanted to paint is that of a woman who worked to be the good in this world. She raised three amazing, intelligent, Black men. She has inspired people to Christ. As the Word said, she did. Her love covered all.
She taught me how to pray. She taught me how to live. She taught me how to be strong. She taught me how to be gentle. Whether it was “the claw”, “headless”, or a sarcastic joke, she helped me laugh. Whether it was to buy a house or date a girl, she helped me make wise decisions. I can say with full confidence that if my life went to smithereens, she’d readily open her door to help me regather my life. However, what I am most grateful for is her introducing me to Christ. That relationship alone has elevated me leagues above what she could’ve done in her own power.
My mother did things like give free concerts whenever a good song played on the radio. She wrestled male friends to the ground and twisted their ears asking, “Can you hear me now? Are you gonna listen when I ask you do to something now?” She learned how to play video games just to share that time with us. She stayed up until 3am on a work night editing my story for a school submission. She sold her house to her son for cheap so that he could build his family in it.
My mother kept her cool when she was being screamed at by someone who claimed he loved her. She fought a bully who was picking on a girl in front of her. She left instead of retaliated when those around her took sides against her. She confided in me when life got really hard for her, and she conversed with God to understand. She forgave so many, including me, for pains deeper than we realized.
Who is Ms. Kim? She is a beautiful, strong, intelligent, wise, disciplined, growing, loving, Black Christian mother. She is one who carries confidence in her looks. She is one who carries strength in her demeanor. She is one who embodies authority in her words. I am who I am because she was disciplined enough to be who God wanted her to be.
That is why I am so picky. I am accustomed to a level of integrity, discipline, strength, wisdom, and power that most women will not, or do not, obtain. A lot of women I have met can’t take care of themselves, let alone three young men. Most will not sacrifice a tote bag, let alone an entire way of life. I love my mother, flaws and all, and will do the same for a wife one day. Just know the standards are high for a reason. When I see my mother, I see where God was, is, and will be. She walks with Him. There is no questioning that. So, if you want my attention, you’d better know where He is, too.
Ephesians 6:1-3, Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Matthew 15:4,