Behind Every Good Missionary there’s a Mother: In Praise of Mums (especially mine)

People sometimes tell me they’re proud of me moving to Japan. Or that they’re encouraged and inspired by me following God’s calling out here. I really appreciate those thoughts and I don’t want to dismiss them, but I do want to deflect at least some of the praise. Because I think that often mums get overlooked. We admire the ones who take risks and who leave their homes behind. But we overlook the mums who made sure that there was a home to leave in the first place.

Maybe we even think that you have to be one of those adventurers in order to make a change in the world. We can buy into the thinking that balanced people never achieved anything. We believe thoughts like this quote by Danielle Strickland (a worker for the Salvation Army),

“I’ve looked all through scripture and church history for people who did significant things for the Kingdom and none of them exhibited any signs of balance.”

Now I’ve been really challenged and inspired by stuff that Danielle has said and done, but here I couldn’t disagree more. I think she’s made the mistake of looking only at the boys and girls who left home, and overlooked the mothers who let them go. The mothers who cared for, nurtured, raised, protected, and generally mothered their children so they were strong enough to go on crazy adventures without losing their heads.

Now sure, I can’t talk for everyone, but my mum at least is one of the most balanced people I know. Sure, she’s quirky. All the best people are. But she’s still balanced. Not one to kick up a fuss. Happy to spend her afternoon with a book and a cup of tea (as long as the cup gets refilled about twice an hour). She knits and bakes. She writes poetry and takes my nephews to feed the ducks. She stayed at home and raised me and my two sisters when my dad was in places like Belize and Iraq.

And I’m not a sailor but I know that if a ship doesn’t have ballast then it’ll get overwhelmed incredibly easily. Ballast is crucial, but it’s exactly the sort of boring thing that I would forget if I was planning to set sail across the ocean. And it’s exactly the sort of thing that a mother would prepare, without even raising a fuss about the fact she secretly stopped her son from being overwhelmed by the storms of life.

Yup, I most certainly would not have made it this far without my mum.

Moving out to Japan means I get asked the same questions over and over. One of the most common one is, ‘Where are you from?’ It’s been a tough question for me to answer, because I moved around growing up so I can’t readily point to a place that I consider to be my hometown.

But as I was thinking of this post, I realised that I do know where my home is. The reason why I had trouble thinking of where I’m from–where my home is–is because I had been trying to think of a place I call home. But my home isn’t a place, it’s a person: my mum.

Yes, it is mothers who have done some of the most significant things for this world. And so today I want to honour my mother. For all of the ballast and balance she has put into my life. For giving me–no, for being my home.

Thanks mum, you’re awesome, and I love you.

Me and my mum in Japan


2 thoughts on “Behind Every Good Missionary there’s a Mother: In Praise of Mums (especially mine)

  1. Cathryn

    I’m late to reading this but oh I loved it. I hope so hard that Arthur feels (and maybe says) the same thing when he’s older. Being a mum is the best thing in the world but also the hardest, and I think letting your son go so far away, alone, especially when you’ve just lost the love of your life, is an incredibly brave, loving, selfless thing to do. Your mum must be so proud of you.



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