It is specifically about my role as a Salvation Army Officer and a mum, so any references to 'Army' are about that!
Mum’s the Word 2
Tina Turner sang, “When I was a little girl, I had a rag doll”. My song would be similar, but mine was an Army doll. She was dressed in full old-style uniform including a bonnet and she had officer’s trimmings. She had lovely brown hair and I loved her, because I thought she looked like my Mum. As a little girl growing up I used to sit on my Mum’s knee, put my hand up and touch the pips (stars) on her epaulettes, and feel safe. When it comes to being an officer and a Mum, I learnt from the best.
My story of the challenge of being an officer and a Mum is a very different one now to the start of my officership in 1993. The years tend to give you perspective and the things that used to cause me grief, wouldn’t cause me the same kind of stress any more.
However my main aim was that I never wanted my children to be able to say, “You were always there for everyone else, but not for me.” I also wanted my officer-ship to be an extension of who I am as a woman, a wife, and a mother. Not a separate entity. Psalm 139 speaks of us as being fearfully and wonderfully made. So it makes sense to me that the Creator-God, fashioned me for a reason. I can’t compartmentalise my life. I need to be who God has made me to be wherever I am, and whoever I’m with.
Adrian Plass wrote “The Real Problem,” after a conversation where his son asked him why it would be like World War 1 in their house on a Sunday morning, then they’d go to church and everything would be sweetness and light, then they’d come home to World War 2.
“But when we get to church at last, it’s really very strange.
‘Cos Mum and Dad stop arguing and suddenly they change.
At church my Mum and Dad are friends, they get on very well.
And no-one knows they’ve had a row, and I’m not going to tell!”
Sound familiar? The Commodores sang ‘Easy like Sunday morning,’ well they’ve obviously never lived in my house! I suppose the point is not that we’re different when we go to the corps or to the church, because we’re pretending or want to deceive anyone. More that we feel we have responsibilities, or a job to do, so we need to maintain a semblance of normality.
But what message does that send out to my children if I’m different at home with them, than I am out in the world? Jesus calls us to be salt and light (Matthew 5). Light shows up our own flaws, as well as those who we’re trying to influence. I want to love other people in Jesus’ name, in the same way that I love my husband and children. “Being real” matters to me. I have no desire to be a ‘resounding gong or a clanging cymbal’ (1 Corinthians 13:1).
I was thinking recently about success. And I decided that I would rather be known for loving people than have the most prestigious appointment in the world. As Father Brian D’Arcy said recently, “I can’t do everything, I can’t be everywhere. I can’t solve every problem in every life for every person who contacts me. I’m not God and I don’t have to pretend I’m some sort of saviour.” I believe that I am who I am, with the family I have, ministering to the people who cross my path, because that’s the way God wants it. And that’s just fine with me.