Mama Bear’s Secret to Changing the World

It was a gamble for sure. I was asked if my son Jon would participate in a social skills development group. “Teenage social skills group”—let’s think about that.

Mama Bear's Secret to Changing the World
(Photo by Thomas Lefebvre. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

Teenage anything can be interesting; social groups, whatever the age, can be quite colorful. Thus, I was skeptical at best and had a few questions for the director. Okay, maybe I wanted to conduct a minor interrogation—but I refrained from a full-blown forensic investigation.

It’s because of this attitude of protectiveness that I’ve earned the nickname “Mama Bear.” Let’s just say if there is one thing that cultivates a monumental Mama Bear, it’s parenting a child that society would prefer to dodge, dismiss, and disregard altogether.

It’s tragic but very true. In any case, we accepted the risk; we decided that Jon would participate.

Two weeks in, we met with the director to discuss any concerns or progress noted. As my son and I turned to leave, the director said, “You know, I’ve never met anyone like your son. I think he’s going to teach us all a lot more than we will ever teach him.”

My eyes welled with tears. I turned quietly and said, “If people took the time to get to know him, to see past the differences, this world would be a better place. My family has been learning from him since he was born.”

Where Change Begins

By nature, I’m an idealist, and raising kids as an idealist can be a formula for disaster. Reason being, an idealist or perfectionist tends to prefer performance results . . . high test scores, notable accomplishments, measurable things. But God never intended for us to be measurable or to measure others.

He loves us regardless of scores and successes, and He calls us to love others as He loves us.

How awful it is to be measured; how awful it is to measure others and decide their worth on what they can do rather than who they are. I know because, like many in the church, I once had a huge measuring stick. I’ve lived with the pain of people measuring and rejecting my son for years now.

As a result, God has shown Mama Bear how to love His way. I had it all wrong for a long time. Change begins when we learn how to love without conditions.

Mama bear and cub

(Photo: by John Good. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

What Foundation of Change

Soul work can be deep, difficult, dark. For me, God’s work in my life was miserable for a while, because change is miserable until we get into a new rhythm of finally letting go of our lists for ourselves and for others.

  • I embraced the son God gave me—the son people stared at, judged, labeled, bullied, ignored, and made fun of.
  • I wrapped my soul around God’s will instead of all the how-to books and the countless opinions of others who offered “Christian advice” on how I should raise my son.
  • And I continue to learn that God’s love is the foundation for change.

Change in Action

It’s no surprise that God’s commands begin with loving Him and continue with loving others. Like no other person who ever lived, Jesus knows what it’s like to be rejected, yet He changed the world because of His love for us. Remember:

He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. (Isaiah 53:3 NLT)

In spite of all that, His love remains pure and true for us all.

  • We are all weak, broken, unable, unqualified.
  • We don’t measure up, but that never stops our God from loving us.

In turn, it’s our job to love others in the same way. Put down the measuring stick; stop the judgment! Let God show you how to actively love others, and it will change your life.

Begin here:

Father, I come to You in need . . . I’m broken, beaten up, a bit bewildered. I’m tired of trying to fix what may be the very thing leading me to You. Will You show me how to live fully—to make this world a better place not because I’m sufficient but because You are. I’m simply unable to be whole without You. My soul is incapable without Your presence. Use my life however You wish. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let Me Hear from You

Someday, my friend, may it be said of you: “if people took the time to get to know you, this world would be a better place.” Will they say this of you? What’s keeping you from letting go and allowing God’s love to change the world through you?

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  • The world is full of Papa Bears too, Colleen. (Ask me how I know.) Like Abraham with Isaac, it’s been tough to surrender my kids to God, but it’s so essential. Accepting who they are and how God has made them is a lifelong challenge. Thanks for this wonderful reminder today.

    • Wayne,
      You are so right…and I can’t imagine the Papa bear world as there are so many responsibilities you are called to care for by God. As my daughter was dating and then found a mate, there were some moments when I may have gone hunting without the Lord’s continued work in my life. He does call us to surrender; I cannot imagine what thoughts Abraham had walking up that hill. There are moments when I also think of our God watching His son walk up the hill with the cross, beaten and abused in every way, to die for you and me. Can you fathom that? His love for us is beyond comprehension. Thanks for the reminder that Papa bears are out there…it gives me more to pray about as you and so many other men lead their families. Have a great day, Wayne and as always, it’s wonderful to connect once again. You bring some great thoughts to this page; I’m sure they touch many souls. Thanks. Colleen

  • VickiHD

    Colleen,
    I too am a Mama Bear or Helicopter Parent. And I really wouldn’t have it any other way with our little guy.
    Acceptance and not judging others is something I think most people struggle with or should, if they have a child with special needs or not. Boy, I wish everyone could read your blog today and take it to heart. Thank you for another great post today.
    Blessings,
    Vicki

  • Ann Holmes

    You hit this one out of the park!!! And, here I was thinking your back was hurting! :o) You done good, my sweet friend!

    • My friend, Ann,
      you are amazing. Every word is from what God has allowed, what I have often fought Him over, and put out there to offer hope. I’m so touched that this writing did that for you. Yes, my back as you know…but there’s that ‘mama bear’ person who seems not to feel back problems when my kids have needs. I know you are the same so let’s hang in there together. May the Lord continue to shape you and transform you into His image…mama bear and all! = ) Great to hear from you! Colleen