What Would My Mom Think Of That?

Meditations in Motion

In September of 2017, at a time of year when I typically would have returned to school, instead, I traveled to Berlin and ran the Berlin Marathon.

It was my first year of retirement and I wanted a big event to distract me from sad thoughts of the end of my teaching career after 31 years.

I injured my hamstring training for the marathon but at the time, I didn’t think the injury was serious and I was able to complete the race using a strategy of running and walking.

Even with the walking thrown in, 26.2 miles is a long way to travel. As I approached the end of the race, I was gassed.

The Brandenburg Gate, which I knew marked the end of the race, is a huge structure. I could see it beckoning me from a distance.

I passed through the columns, slowed to a walk, and stopped my watch.

What I didn’t know was that the gate wasn’t the very end of the race.

When I looked around, everyone near me was still running. The actual finish line was 200 yards ahead. I rolled my eyes, restarted my watch, and shuffled through the final painful fraction of a mile to the real finish line.

Meditations in Motion

In 2012 Abel Mutai, a Kenyan Olympic medalist, made the same mistake, only with potentially more significant consequences.

Mutai was winning a cross-country race when, thinking the finish line was 10 meters before it actually was, suddenly stopped running.

Ivan Fernandez Anaya, the Spanish runner in second place, realized what had happened and, rather than passing Mutai and claiming victory, told the Kenyan to keep running.

Mutai, however, did not speak Spanish and did not understand what the Spaniard was saying.

Fernandez pushed the Kenyan toward the finish line, gesturing to make him understand he needed to keep running.

Mutai won the race.

When asked after the race why he did it, Fernandez told reporters Mutai deserved the win. He was ahead by 20 meters when he stopped running. He didn’t let the Kenyan win, he was going to win when he stopped.

Besides, the Spaniard asked, “What would my Mom think of that?

Meditations in Motion

When I was a teacher, many of my students wore a bracelet with the letters “WWJD” inscribed.

At first, I didn’t understand the significance of the letters, until one young woman explained to me they stood for “What Would Jesus Do?

She wore the bracelet as a reminder to ask that question if she found herself in a morally ambiguous situation, she explained.

Ah,” I said, thinking it was used mostly as a deterrent against pre-marital sex, which, of course, Jesus would never condone.

I don’t know if those bracelets are still in vogue these days, having been out of the classroom now for three years.

I like the sentiment behind the question, but for me, it’s sometimes too hard to imagine the answer.

Are we talking about the Jesus who humbly washed the feet of the Apostles? Or the Jesus whose first reaction, when approached by a Caananite woman to heal her daughter, was a hard pass?

The Jesus who preached “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy“? Or the Jesus who raged through the temple overturning tables and scattering money?

While I appreciate and understand the message of love, grace, freedom, and humility, I sometimes think we sanitize the man, the human being Jesus so undeniably was.

If I am realistic, I must admit there are many situations where I honestly don’t know what Jesus would do.

I, like Ivan Fernandez Anaya, find it easier to ask myself “What would my mom think of that?

My mom was a confident, self-assured woman who did not waste her time with worry or second-guessing. She had the ability to figure out problems for herself and to try new things without fear of failure. Mom knew that even if she failed at a particular task, she herself was not a failure.

While no one could accuse her of hubris, she certainly had no patience with timidity.

When I sometimes find myself following my natural inclination to dither, fret, and dwell on minutiae, I ask myself what Mom would do in a similar situation and find the resolve I need to act decisively.

My mom was the most generous person I know, picking up checks, buying presents, slipping cash to her grandchildren, and giving her time to others without hesitation.

When I find my generosity lacking, I channel my mother’s spirit for the needed impetus to loosen my purse strings or enthusiastically offer my time.

What I remember most about Mom was her loving nature. My mother taught me not to hold grudges. Transgressions were forgiven completely and swiftly (after an appropriate punishment, if warranted). Mom let those close to her know how precious they were.

I first learned love and grace from my mother.

I have no problem with teenagers asking themselves “What would Jesus do?” if the question helps them to make good decisions.

Me, I think I will get a bracelet inscribed “WWMD?

What Would Mom Do?

 

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86 comments

  1. how touching. I cried at the integrity of the spanish runner… I just watched a documentary on the asteroid hit that killed dinosaurs. It killed almost ALL life on earth, but not absolutely. When I think integrity this no longer expected or wanted because one powerful man now doesn’t believe in taking responsibility or fault, I must remember all life is not gone yet. All integrity is definitely not gone, I know many people who still act with grace and kindness, who take responsibility for their choices, and stand up for what is inherently right. Your post is powerful. Your posts make me think, and form opinions, and grow.
    I also think there are a lot of important moral decisions to make these days, responsible sex is maybe not the most important among them. I imagine that bracelet would remind people of the golden rule too… do unto others as you have them do unto you. It’s a current lazy belief that one is allowed to get away with things that others should not be allowed to do… and it doesn’t work in society. Not in a peaceful society at least.
    thanks so much, LeeAnna

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think integrity may be making a comeback in spite of the hate spewed by some in politics and mimicked by others on social media. My optimism says the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. I am so glad you find my posts useful. That is my hope when I write them.

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  2. I still have a “WWJD” ornament on my key chain, a gift from my daughter when she was in high school. I so treasure it! But you have brought up some good points here, Laurie. What, indeed, would Jesus do in some of the situations we currently find ourselves in? Something to deeply ponder, that’s for sure.
    Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think when we ask ourselves WWJD, we are really asking what is the right thing to do? Jesus, of course, always made the good choice, the right choice. There were some instances described in Scripture, however, when His human side showed up. I think asking myself what my mom would do is sometimes easier for me to imagine. Blessings to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Forgive me, but I don’t think this was Jesus’ human side, but His Father’s. The Old Testament is filled with brazen injunctions to honor Him. I think that this is the mistake that too many of us make today, and I’ve fallen victim to this too many times. Simply, we need to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Once we do that, our paths are cleared. I’m still pulling up weeds!

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  3. I love this post, Laurie! ❀ I am always amazed by how similar your mother and my mother were! I wonder if it is the generation they come from, or just a huge coincidence. Whatever the reason, I think it is always a great piece of advice to ask "what would Mom do?" Mothers always seem to know best! πŸ™‚ ❀ And we were so blessed to have had the amazing mothers we had! ❀

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  4. I saw that story on Twitter and thought it was nice.
    But I absolutely love that you picked it up and gave it the platform it deserves: it is a magical and powerful story.
    Yes, what would my mother think? The world would be a different place if we’d think more like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I saw the story recently on social media too. When I researched it and saw it was from almost 8 years ago, I wondered why such an old story had been recently resurrected. It does have a great message. I admire the integrity of the Spaniard.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would swap it to Dad, but it’s a question worth asking.

    Years ago, I had a coworker who wore a WWJD bracelet. One day, he made a morally repugnant statement in front of several of us. I grabbed his wrist, pointed to the bracelet and said, “He’d probably slap you upside your head.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I admire my dad’s integrity (and he was a politician!!!) but he was more of a mystery to me than my mom. I don’t know what he would have done in a lot of situations. Good for you for letting your coworker know his words did not measure up to his professed religion.

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  6. <3. Exactly, I have no idea what Jesus would do in many situations but I know what my mom would do. That's a pretty good standard to live by.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It sounds like you had an amazing mom. We all need someone in our life like your mom who is decisive as well as generous. God is that person for me. I love that your mom failed but knew she wasn’t a failure.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve got a tshirt that says “What would Buffy do?” (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). But the first time I heard that was in The Jane Austen Bookclub (the movie). What Would Jane Do?

    I love that story about the marathoners. Such good sportsmanship and I’m fairly certain though Fernandez couldn’t live with himself if he’d won when he felt he didn’t deserve it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! I love that WWBD T-shirt! I would definitely encourage the girls in my class at school to channel Buffy. I loved the runner story as soon as I saw it. What integrity!

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  9. Your mum sounds amazing Laurie – she seems to model every character trait I aspire to! My mum is confident and outgoing and doesn’t worry about anything (your mum minus the grace!) and I often wonder how I missed those self-confident traits. I guess I’ll have to go with What Would Laurie’s Mum Do? as my mantra!

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  10. I don’t think Jesus would outright ban premarital sex. If it was done maturely, thoughtfully and lovingly, I think he’d say “well, go at it.” He doesn’t strike me as much of a rule follower. Plus those kids all got married at fourteen back then. I often remind Eli that if this was two thousand years ago, he’d have a wife and a job and no one to fetch him a waffle in the morning. The concept of my mother watching over my shoulder judging my actions would undoubtedly make me a better person. Something I noticed when I moved to Gettysburg, I became more patient and generous. Everybody know everybody. News of ill behavior spreads.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, He definitely doesn’t strike me as a rule follower either. We get into trouble when we try to apply the mores of ancient Israel to today’s world. You might have a few more wives and some slaves, Jeff! I think living in Lititz has had the same effect on me. Many people in town know me since I have been a teacher in the high school for so long. 120 kids/year x 31 years = 3720 potential Lititz-ites.

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  11. That’s a moving story, and I appreciate you sharing it. I once watched a race where the two leading runners crossed the finish line holding hands. They weren’t professional runners but I expect sports to be about competition, which made it all the more moving.

    As a non-Christian, I find your question, What would Mom think of that? a lot more useful than What would Jesus do? It crosses boundaries that the other one just can’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. First, what an awesome way to usher in retirement! And–what a fantastic story (as well as a great conversation starter!). All I was thinking while reading was how…if Fernandez had blown by Mutai to take first place, he’d have had to live with THAT. And what an awful win. By pushing Mutai he won so much more. What a fantastic story for BOTH of them to tell. I imagine a second place never felt so good.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you for sharing Laurie. And what an amazing display of sportsmanship by Ivan Fernandez Anaya. Even though my mom had been gone for a few years, I still think of “what would mom think?”

    And what a neat analogy in the Christian life of What would Jesus do. Great post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Whats that saying ” its not how you win but how you play the game”..Your mum sounds wonderful. I remember that race and all i could think of is how lovely that the spaniard did that. Too many people will jump hoops just to beat someone even if they are not better at it. #SeniSal

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    • My mom was not perfect either but I admire her integrity. And my dad’s. I now wish I had listened to my mom more often, but of course, I had to learn things the hard way sometimes! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Aw, this is the blog post you said you would write about your mom when we were discussing our moms a week or so ago. Moms propped us up, gave us confidence and no one could ever take their place. You will also do her proud Laurie.

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    • Thank you, Linda. Yes, this is the post I had in mind then. It took me a while to write it with all the interruptions. Our moms are unforgettable. We both are reminded of them often. Your mom would be proud of you too, Linda. (Except maybe in the cleaning department – my mom would be dismayed at the state of my house now!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was a good post Laurie, and, yes, like me, we remember our moms and it is good to talk about their spirit, and what made them tick. It helps to keep their memory alive. My mom would be dismayed, maybe even horrified, at my housekeeping skills right now, but then she always said to me “I can just imagine how this house will look after I’m gone.” I guess prophetic was another quality of hers. πŸ™‚ Hope you are doing better today.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we do think of our moms often and fondly and I find myself thinking about things she predicted and have happened. Often I see/hear something and wish I could share it with her, even now, 10 years later. Hugs to you Laurie – I know it is difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Just a word for the dads here, Laurie, hehe! My mum died when I was quite young and dad took over both roles very well. And I, and my siblings, definitely have been influenced by his moral decency. What Would Dad Do? indeed! #SeniSal

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I remember those bracelets and agree with you if they help someone behave in a gracious and respectful way, then I’m all for them. As for what my mother would do? She was known for her favorite saying so I’d say that my answer to “WWMD?” would be “waste not, want not”!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. It’s a successful mother who sets example for her children even after they reach adulthood and are mothers and grandmothers. I hope when my kids are parents, they’ll teach their kids what I taught them.
    My mom is a great woman, and she taught me to remember that at the end of the day, I need to be able to look myself in the eyes.

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  19. Wow, Laurie. I had never heard the story about the Spanish runner. That is beautiful. Sometimes it is hard to think through what Jesus might do. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a righteous role model’s example to follow. My mom has been one of those people in my life. Though we haven’t agreed on everything, her life is one I consider when I have decisions to make. Her words are some I want to hear when I need clarity and a boost of confidence. πŸ™‚

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  20. Oh, what a beautiful story with the Kenyan and the Spanish runners!

    I know I don’t live up to the life of my mother; she was so hospitable to all. And even less so do I live up to the life of Jesus. But I do appreciate asking the questions of not only WWJD but also what would my mother do. πŸ™‚

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  21. YOU ran that race…Oh wow. An amazing memory, marking your end of teaching life and beginning…of ‘life’..Your Mum sounds wonderful. I am glad you can use her as a gauge like that. Thank you so much for linking up. We are more half way through the year now. Next week it’s time for: 27/51 Taking Stock #3 6.7.2020 so I look forward to seeing you then, on or off prompt. Denyse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! I like the way you think, Denyse. Retirement IS like the beginning of life, isn’t it? Now if this pandemic would just allow us to travel once again. Thank you for hosting. See you next week.

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  22. I like WWMD. Mothers are always the voices in our heads about what is ethically and morally right and wrong. My mom was not perfect, but she, with the help of dad, gave my brother and I excellent direction in these areas. I give them both much credit for helping us stay on our feet and win races. Great post, Laurie!

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  23. Abel Mutai’s story made me a little teary. We need to keep hearing stories like this. Sometimes people a bit too selfish and are happy to grab whatever they can get.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love your WWMD question, Laurie. I’ve always leaned more toward What Would Dad Do? in my thinking, but lately, as my older daughter prepares to leave for college, I’ve thought a lot more about my mom. Not just what she would have done, but what she DID do when I was in that phase of life. I see much to appreciate as I look back, especially when it comes to things that I struggle with as a mom!

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