In 2021, at the height of Covid, Shermaine’s mother was called home to be with God. “Auntie Joyce” was what many knew her by. Auntie Joyce was the face and heart of Safe Place for its residents. She was the resident helper. She was the one who made sure the mothers and babies were provided for, comfortable and well-adjusted to living in the home. Auntie Joyce’s smile warmed everyone who met her and just as Christ did, she gave of herself to serve others.
Auntie Joyce was also a mother herself to Shermaine and her brother, Shawn.
This Mother’s Day, we interview Shermaine as a tribute to her beautiful, big-hearted mother who loved God above all else, gave of herself to others wholeheartedly and lived a full life which continues to have its impact on the lives she touched.
INTERVIEW WITH SHERMAINE WONG
Describe your mother in three words.
Gentle. Humble. Authentic.
What was your favourite thing to do with your mother?
We loved chatting. We talked about how things were with her and with me and we enjoyed watching shows together.
What were your mother’s favourite sayings?
“Don’t want, done.”
When she didn’t quite like something, she was too nice to say so. She’d just comment,“It’s something different.”
What is one of the most important things you have learned from your mother?
I think I learned how important and effective prayer is. My mother taught me how to submit my requests to God instead of solving it on my own. I remember her praying a lot. She would say, “I’m going to pray,” and head into her room for like an hour. Even when we were difficult as teenagers, she prayed.
When my kids are older, I want to also cultivate the same habit and say to them, “BRB. I’m gonna pray.”
How has your mother impacted your relationship with God?
She really showed me how to live a life of faith. She worked towards doing the right thing, living out a Christ-like nature. She took her faith seriously and showed me not to take my salvation for granted.
If your mother were a picture, what would she be? Why?
A little cottage in the countryside, surrounded by greenery. A cosy and bright place. That’s how she made people feel. Comfortable and warm. That was her dream.
As a mother yourself now, how has your own mother influenced you?
My mother was always very patient with us. She prayed and placed her trust in God. She was able to healthily let go at the right time. She trusted God that her kids would be okay when she chose to let go. She was very wise and discerning. She is a role model for me.
If you have a word to encourage girls/women in their relationship with their mother, what would it be?
Sometimes, you may really not like your mum. It’s normal to find your mother irritating, especially at a certain age. I also found my mother irritating when I was younger.
During my teenage years, it was really tough. I think she also didn’t like me a lot. She told my dad to “deal with me” as she could not tahan me. It was mutual and it was not easy.
Understand that what you feel [at a given moment] doesn’t define your relationship with your mother for the rest of your life. As I grew older, we became closer.
Remember that your mum is doing the best that she can at any given moment. Considering all the resources she has, including her own upbringing, biases, perspectives and shortcomings, she’s doing the best that she can. Appreciate that factor and know that ultimately, she does the best she can because she loves you.
God is good and He has given you — mother and daughter — to each other to be family. Even if your mother is difficult, it gives you space to grow, to depend on God. It is a matter of shifting our perspective to lean on God for help in things we cannot change. There is no down-side to it. You come out of it closer to God and that’s what matters.
The reality is that God loves us even when we are difficult. With that in mind, hopefully that gives us more grace to love and give to our mothers.
GOD’S GOOD PURPOSE
Every one of us has our own story. Each mother is different. Yet, we can be assured that God gave us to our mothers and our mothers to us for a good purpose. Even if you may not be able to see that good purpose right now, trust God to reveal that in His time.
When I read about the courage Moses’ mother, Jochebed, had in protecting and saving the life of her baby boy in the face of all oppositions and risks (Exod 1:8–2:10; 6:20) and about the mother who was willing to give up her baby to another woman to save his life (1 Kings 3:16–28), I have a deeper understanding of how God uses our mothers to shape our lives.
For some, your relationship with your mother may be an easy one. Celebrate and appreciate your mother for who she has been to you. Give thanks to God for that gift! For others, your relationship with your mother may be a difficult one and it may be hard to understand the pain you’ve had to go through. Take comfort in knowing that God is perfect and people are far from perfect. As a daughter, you are not any less or less loved just because your mother may have failed you. Take heart that your worth is not tied up to how good or how messy your relationship with your mother is. Run to God and let Him cover the imperfections with His perfection. He is your refuge and you are safe in Him (Ps 46:1; 91:2; Prov 18:10).
God chose to form us in our mother’s womb so that we would be protected and nourished before entering the world. He knew the special role our mothers would have in our lives and He gave us to each other.
May this Mother’s Day hold celebration of relationship with our mothers and also the hope for the mending of broken relationships through Christ.