Mary was in a relationship with God before she ever met Watson.
She didn’t just agree to a creed or adhere to a set of beliefs, her faith was deeply personal. She met her Creator and she fell head over heels. By the time dad came along, she was already knee-deep in her faith. They made a good team.
I don’t know the story of how mama became a Christian and what prompted her to devote her life to being a follower of Christ. She never talked about that with me. I just knew that pleasing God was her life’s goal and that the hierarchy of love in our house was and always would be God first, Dad second and the kids securely in third.
Today, the word “Christian” has a bad rap. I believe that description is often inappropriately used to describe people and movements that are anything but Christlike. In fact, I’ve come to a point in my life that I choose not to call myself a Christian. A follower of Christ, yes. A person who desires to live as Christ did and taught, certainly. But a Christian? No.
Big difference. Huge.
Mom never reached that point of dissatisfaction or disillusionment. She delighted in being a Christian, reading the Bible, learning more about God and sharing her faith with any one who would listen.
Mom and dad grew up in the early 1900s when the fundamentalist movement spread like wildfire. For them, being a Christian had a lot to do with what you said, did, looked like and participated in. One needed a change of heart as well as a way of living. What you did spoke as loudly as what you say you believed. Yet, in spite of living with a sense of “oughts”, mom’s faith was full of love, kindness and joy.
Well, most of the time.
Occasionally her legalism got the best of her and I’d hear her criticize a family member or person from church. Her harsh words were rare but when she spoke them, they hurt. I had the ability to let her criticism roll off my back. Other people, not so much.
I saw mom’s heart and felt her passion. She was fiercely loyal to her husband and children. There’s no way on earth she would waiver in her beliefs and commitment to God or kin. That kind of faith makes one strong.
That strength of hers gave me comfort. It gave me strength as well. Throughout my high school years I felt abandoned by friends and lonely as hell. Without fail, when I opened up and talked to mom about my feelings, she’s do three things.
She would play a hymn and encourage me to sing along.
She would read me verses from the Bible, like Lamentations 3:22-23–
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
She’d give me something to eat.
I never felt alone with mama. I feel the presence of God today largely because of her.
Mama’s love never ceased.
Great was her faithfulness.