Baseball, The Beatles, Monty Python and Perspective: Things I Learned From Mom

As I think about my mom on Mother’s Day, I remember how really lucky I am.

Just last week, we had a bunch of tornadoes come through Birmingham and the whole state of Alabama. It was my mother’s job, no matter how old I am or how long I have lived outside of my parents’ home, to be worried and calling me, making sure I was safe from the storm. Throughout the course of one of our conversations, I snapped at mom and cut the phone call short. It took only a few minutes and one honest conversation for me to realize I was a big fat jerk, as usual. And, as usual, I should call and apologize.

When I called my mom I told her I was sorry and that I was a jerk. “I know,” she said without a hint of manipulation. “Sometimes you hear one too many questions and get angry out of the blue.” My mom knows me all too well. And she loves me anyhow. I think that is grace.

Well, in addition to all the normal motherly qualities my mom possesses, I was reflecting on a couple that are unique to Beverly Hobbs. I could list more than this, but here are four:

1. My mom taught me to throw a baseball

Now, to be clear, my dad coached my brothers and I all through little league and was at every single game we played in high school (with one exception- the game I hit my only homerun). He was not only physically there but he was constantly teaching us how the real point of sports was to learn about life.

Ok, that being said, my mom taught my brothers and I how to throw a baseball. Dad was a car-salesman when we were really young and his odd hours kept him from spending those evenings with us for a while. In those years, mom would play catch with us, teaching us the unnatural, learned motion of throwing overhand. I have no idea how many lamps, plants, windows and Saturdays over the years that were sacrificed to baseball but it was mom who was there since the very beginning.

One more thing, when my dad had to work the day of the only one of his boys’ homers, mom was there, cheering the whole time, even as she had during our thousands of strikeouts.

2. My mom introduced me to the Beatles

On Vinyl. My first experience with truly great music, something that I seem to live on some days, was listening to my mom’s Beatles album with her. Over the years we have had our differences as far as music is concerned but we have met in the middle several times. When I got her and dad tickets to the Avett Brothers show a couple of years ago, she rewarded me by going deep into their collection and sliding me some songs I would have been ignorant to otherwise- not the least of which is
“Murder in the City.”

Over the years the Lord has used music, sometimes written by Isaac Watts and sometimes John Lennon, to speak to my heart in a very special way. We can all attest to the power of music, some of us more than others, but it was my mom who first shaped my musical instincts and tastes. I cannot hear a Beatles song without thinking of those special times with my mom.

3. My mom gave us Monty Python

As shocking as it may seem to anybody who has ever met me, the first time my dad, my brothers and I watched The Holy Grail, we were not able to finish it. We gave up. We hated it. My dad’s family does not do outlandish humor. Abstract thinking and ridiculous sidebars do not happen around the Hobbs’ dinner tables, however, the Burtons (my mom’s family) are well-known for their ridiculous antics. She would not allow us to give up after the first attempt and made us watch it again. This decision, it is safe to say, changed my life- for the better, I don’t know- but certainly for good.

I was reminded of my mom’s responsibility in my comedic tastes a few years ago when she came out to Birmingham to visit me. We were hanging out in her hotel room flipping channels when, to our glee, a marathon of Flying Circus came on t.v. Whatever plans we had for the night were obviously superceded by this stroke of fortune. Any succeeding generation of the Hobbs clan has my mom to thank for injecting this ridiculous sense of humor into our dry, sarcastic norm.

4. My mom has really good advice

I remember a conversation mom and I had a few years ago. I was going through a hard time, the kind all of us go through once in a while. School was dragging on and weighed heavy. Money was short. On top of that, my girlfriend decided she didn’t want to see me anymore, which made my job automatically suck, seeing as how we worked together. We all go through periods of our lives- or at least some of us do- when the outlook seems bleak. It was kind of what a good country or blues song is made of- everything seemed against me. My mom had been there and she knew just the right thing to say.

“Just give it five years,” she said. “You are going to be surprised how happy you are in five years if you hang in and trust God.”

Now, these words can seem really trite if said by somebody who does not understand. My mom did understand, though. She had been there. God had brought her through a young broken heart, tight times and grey skies. We were never promised ease but she had found that Jesus is true to his word. He is faithful.

It has not been quite five years but I can already see her wisdom. I look back on the weaknesses that were exposed in me at the time, and I can see her point. God has been changing me, breaking me and making me more dependent on him day by day. He is still working on me but mom was right. I have been surprised. My happiness is growing deeper as the Lord exposes my weaknesses.

Over the years I find myself growing unafraid of God exposing my weaknesses. I trust he will come through when he promises to accept me even when he really knows me. There has been no better or more consistent model of love in my life than my mom.

Happy Mothers Day!

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