My life would be lived in a wheelchair. That was an irreversible reality. The doctors envisioned a life full of hopelessness, despair, and frustration—and a life that wouldn’t be all that long.
All seemed lost. No one gave me a chance; well, almost no one.
In spite of this distressing news that my future would be tragically brief, my first memory is not the realization that I would never stand or walk as a result of my nerve disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It is not being left alone in a cold, dreary hospital or doctor’s examining room and listening to a grim diagnosis from a unemotional doctor. Instead, my first memory is being showered by my mother’s kisses and hearing her affirmations of “I love you, and I am blessed that you were sent to me.” From the outset, I felt loved, appreciated, nurtured, adored, and protected by her. At such an early age I did not know much, but I did know I was absolutely safe in my mother’s arms. I was loved. Nothing else really mattered.
A Healing Love
No one should ever underestimate the profound power of a mother’s love. Not ever.
I am eternally grateful for the priceless gift of a mother’s love. Without her constant love, I would never have come to know God’s love. Without her at my side during trial after trial, I would not have approached my life with as much optimism, resolve, and resilience as I have. My mother taught me critical lessons about adversity, endurance, and faith. She taught me about bravery and determination in the face of overwhelming odds. She could not teach me how to walk or run. Rather, she taught me how to pray without kneeling. And what it takes to climb a mountain each and every day. It takes grit and faith and the love of someone cheering you on and telling you, “You can make it! I know you can. You will not fail. I will not let you.”
Mothers matter. No one can dispute that fact. They teach us about love, life, and ourselves. My mother taught me to believe there is purpose in trials. She helped me to interpret both the good times and the bad. Mothers do that.
Life does not comprise only victories and triumphs. We meet challenges, trials, and setbacks along the way. Mother and I laughed together and cried together. My mother made up for that which I lacked. Her love filled the gaps. Her love—not my muscles—was my strength. She was the difference that the doctors never saw. She was always right there to hold my hand and to kneel at my bedside. She was the answer to my life’s unknowable questions. Isn’t it interesting to note that a mother’s love never appears in any definition or prognosis of a chronic disease? But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in their grateful children’s hearts and make a remarkable difference in their children’s lives and attitudes about their afflictions.
Mother was the one who lifted me out of my crib, dressed me, fed me, and nurtured me every day. But unlike most mothers, my mother continued this same routine—day after day, night after night—for the first 18 years of my life! She was the first person who greeted me in the morning, and the last person who told me goodnight. What is even more staggering to consider is that she would also turn me over from one side to another three or four times each and every night. She never had a single uninterrupted night’s sleep for two decades!
What is absolutely amazing is that she did it all without registering a single complaint. What stamina! What commitment! What a mother! She did it gladly and cheerfully. Simply put, I was her son and she was my mother. That was enough reason for her.
All mothers make a difference in the lives of their children, not just mine. Mothers are indispensable to the lives, choices, development, and faith of their children. They guide us through the rough paths and help us define who we are and what we can become. Mothers remember what their children have gone through. They remember what their children have done. They remember what they have said. They remember what they needed and when they needed it. Mothers simply remember. They serve, sacrifice, and serve some more. They overflow with energy, dedication, and, most importantly, love. They pick us up when we fall and lift us to safe and higher ground. They only want the best for their kids and they will do anything to make sure we are happy and successful.
Mothers play a unique role in God’s plan. God blesses us with mothers to teach, love, and nurture us through the difficult experiences of our lives. God enlists mothers to help His children learn about Him and to rely on Him. In this way, they are His ministering angels.
I came to understand that my life could be successfully lived without strong muscles. It could not have been lived without my remarkable mother.
So how can you and I ever repay our mothers? There is no price for a mother’s everlasting love. What we can offer is the same kind of committed love and sacrifice to others which our mothers gave to us. We owe them no less. We can honor them by loving others as they loved us. That gift of love that she gave us you and Ist can now share.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. I sit in awe of you!
*To learn more about Steve Mikita's book I Sit All Amazed: The Extraordinary Power of a Mother's Love, click here.