Mother Figures: You Don’t Need to Give Birth to Mother Well

By Dr. Laurel Shaler

Women can be mothers without having given birth to children. Women can be like mothers without having given birth to those whose lives they influenced as one. This is a story about not only one, but two, mother figures I’ve had in my life. The really neat part is that they were best friends.

Crystal and Sam (her real name was Elaine, but – long story, short – most people called her Sam) were both mothers who loved the Lord and served together at the church I grew up in. The church I still attend. Neither Crystal or Sam attend that church anymore. Crystal went on to be a local missionary and Sam went on to worship with the Lord in Heaven. But, to be sure, they have both had a tremendous impact on my life.

I first got to know Crystal and Sam as a young teenager. Crystal’s husband became my youth minister and Sam had children slightly older than me that were in the youth group. Crystal and Sam became close, and we loved having them as leaders.

Crystal was always cheerful (when she sang “Rise and Shine” to wake us up on youth trips, we might have said she was too cheerful). Sam made people laugh (what I would give for that right now). Crystal pointed people to the Lord. Sam loved the Lord despite hardships. They both showed the girls (and the boys, too) what it meant to be a strong, kind, Godly woman with a servant’s heart and a love for people.

Both women loved me well. They taught me so much during my teen years. They celebrated my high school graduation. They participated in my wedding; Crystal sang, Sam registered guests. They came to housewarming parties. There was a whole lot of other things in between those special events, of course.

And then Sam became ill with ovarian cancer.

One day, after visiting her at the hospice house, my husband and I walked out behind Crystal and her husband. They were arm-in-arm as Crystal wiped tears from her usual smiling face. As I did the same, some thoughts hit me hard. These two women helped raise me, and we were losing one. But not only that, I was raised and now it was my turn – my responsibility – to help raise others. You see, when you have had the privilege of not only having one mother figure but two, you know how precious and meaningful it is—you want to give back.

Now that I have my own daughter, I see how not only my own beloved mother influenced me, but how Sam and Crystal did, as well (especially since they each raised their own daughters). In their parenting and mentoring, I saw patience, kindness, grace, joy, wisdom, and all the love a mother/daughter relationship can hold. I daily strive for these in my own journey as a mama.

Most of all, like my precious mentors did, I strive to teach my daughter about the love of Jesus and the Word of God. In high school, I learned the importance of quiet times with the Lord that include reading my Bible and praying. Daily, I pray with my daughter – blessing our food, thanking Him for our friends and family, and asking Him to help her understand a concept she is struggling with (most recently, the difference between humans and angels – and she is only two!) We also read the Bible, devotionals, and other Christian books. When she’s older, I will begin to train her in apologetics, too.

I am thankful that my daughter, like I always have, loves to go to church. Part of the reason I always looked forward to church was that I got to spend time with two women who invested countless hours into my life, pouring themselves out. They showed me that working mothers can, and should, prioritize the Lord first and that they can, and should, mentor future generations of women who follow Jesus. How did they model that? By teaching the truth of God’s word and how to apply it to busy lives, as they shared the love of Jesus with others.

From youth group, Acteens, and mission trips – to graduations, weddings, and children, I was treated like one of their own. I am so grateful for them and for how my life, my walk with the Lord, and truly my daughter’s life has been changed because of them. I pray that I have and continue to make them both proud.

In honor of Crystal Capps.

In memory of Elaine “Sam” Harp.

Love you both. Always have. Always will.

Disclaimer: All views expressed by those associated with this ministry or on our platforms do not necessarily represent the opinions of Women in Apologetics, Inc. or its individual team members.

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