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*The Most Perfect of Pearls*


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The Most Perfect of Pearls

Excerpted from A String of Pearls (Adams Media, 2001) @ by Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D.

Pacing along outside the barbed wire fence in front of the cell her daughter was locked within, day after day, a mother kept vigil. Hour after hour, from the time the sun rose, until long after dark the mother was there. Why this lonely, supreme effort?

When I read of her, my own heart empathized with her anguish, and with the love for a child that made it so. Those among us with a mother's heart well know that a child can be a mother's greatest love, but also has the power to inflict her greatest heartbreak. This woman's nineteen-year-old daughter had been incarcerated and stood trial for a crime she had committed. Her daughter was so distraught over what she had done, so filled with remorse and self-hate, that she wanted to take her own life. From the depths of her grief, she told her mother during a visit, "It would be so much easier if I ended my life. I can't accept what I have done! There is no way I can ever forgive myself ...I can find no reason to go on ...I don't want to live any longer."

"No!" her mother protested, wanting desperately to reach through the visiting room glass that divided them and hold her daughter close. Her own heart could forgive, and she was unable to fathom even the thought of her daughter taking her own life. "You must choose life," she pleaded. "As hopeless as things seem, you must not take your life. No matter what you have done, you are my child. I love you. And need you."

"But Mom," the woman-child cried, "I've done this terrible, unthinkable thing; I've been an accomplish to robbing a store--at gun point! I threatened an innocent person, and realized I was capable of pulling the trigger. I can't stop thinking about it, and what a terrible thing I've been a party to. I can't take being alone in with my thoughts and I don't have the strength to live in this environment, this cell...I feel so alone. I am alone."

Her mother's heart instantly connected and felt with and for this child of hers. "You are not alone," the mother insisted, knowing it was so. Even though her child had done a terrible thing, she would remain faithful to seeing that her daughter swim through the turbulent waters, and reach the shore of better times. That her baby learn to walk a righteous path in life, that her child squarely face the lessons of life and their consequences, that her now adult daughter turn her face to the sun and choose hope--and life--was simply her never-ending role as a mother. She would not judge her daughter or reject her. She most especially would not give up hope that her child's soul would win the battle in its fight for light over shadows. She would buoy her daughter somehow. "Promise me that you will not take your life," the nineteen-year-old's mother appealed.

"If only I had your courage and strength," the daughter lamented.

"Then you will," the mother vowed. "Promise me that as long as I am near, you will draw on my courage and strength until you find your own again."

And so each and every day, without fail, the mother came to the prison, and stood outside the fence near her daughter's cell. Her daughter could look out her small window and know she was not alone, and could thus find the courage to go on, to choose life over death, hope over despair. The mother came at daybreak and stayed until a guard informed her that her daughter was asleep for the night. On many occasions, that wasn't until well after midnight. This the mother did day-in and day-out, week after week, until her daughter had come to terms with her despair and self-loathing, and was ready to face the consequences of her actions.

Oh, for the courage and strength of a mother's heart, one ever-willing to come to the aid of its possessor--her child. Perhaps no greater heart-strings can bind one soul to another than those of a mother and child--cords, that if all be told, are stronger than those of other deep ties of love.

As I watched the unfailing loyalty and courage of this mother, I thought of how often my own mother had tirelessly loaned me her support and courage as I paced before the fence of some heartache that imprisoned my own daughter's precious heart. Just last month I called my mother "to talk." This talk quickly opened up to a discussion about a matter which involved my daughter. My mother and daughter have a special relationship that belongs to them alone. When the three of us get together, I instantly recognize their union and feel so grateful for it--as grateful as I feel for the love my mother and I share, one in which we lovingly protect and guard each other's heart. Listening as I poured my troubles out, my mother consoled me, while offering support for a grand-daughter who is an absolute soul-mate to her. But then, when my mother detected that my heart was heavy and so obviously burdened, her support shifted away from her grand-daughter--and even away from her usual rooting for both my daughter and I--and staunchly came to rest on my side alone. This was comforting to me--until I sensed that my mother had strayed a little too far off the side of empathy for my daughter. Then, I began to rally for my daughter and was soon defending her. My mother continued to defend me against my daughter. There was a moment of tension between us, followed by its customary silence, and then, simultaneously we both broke into laughter. We each understood what we were doing. We were each defending our own child!

My mother loves and adores her grand-daughter, so she could be objective--but only until she heard the pining within her own child's heart. Instinctively, she began guarding me against my own child. And I was then defending my daughter against my mother's straying from her defense. It was an insightful moment--and a common one for a mother's heart.

Is this instinct? The work of angels? Or simply a legacy of a heart seasoned by pain, enriched by love and bound by an innate soul-intelligence? Inextricably tied to her child--and acting from a higher, wiser, more luminous part of herself--a mother willingly ventures into the land so many flippantly call co-dependence. Armed with a fiercely loyal love and aching protectiveness, a mother's heart tirelessly reaches out to courageously protect and defend her beloved child.

Those who possess a mother's heart can understand why a mother stands by her child--even when a child doesn't always deserve such loyalty. Accepting her all-consuming bond with her child, a mother's heart keeps her vigilance. Day by day. Year after year. Forever.

It is through the eyes of a mother's heart that we best see a spirit that so often remains undaunted in the face of personal or worldly failures or shortcomings, a courageous spirit that has both unfaltering belief that any heart can thaw the cruelty of its self-destructive ways, and an unwavering faith that "we can get through this." A mother's compassionate spirit is an angel's whisper coaxing us to take the high road, assuring us that doing so is the highest form of humanness.

A mother's heart, quite possibly, is the most perfect pearl of all.

Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D.

Write Bettie and let her know your thoughts on her story!

Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D. is a former teacher of the year, former university professor and the author of 21 books. With her daughter Jennifer Leigh Youngs she has co-authored the best-selling Taste Berries for Teens series. Bettie has appeared frequently on CNN, NBC Nightly News, and Oprah. Jennifer is a speaker and workshop presenter for teens nationwide.

Be sure to visit their website at:


Thought For The Day:

"Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes."--Parkes Robinson

Verse for the Day:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

Kid's Thought for the day:

"Remember who gives wet kisses, and the next time you see them, wave from across the room."

Parent's Thought For The Day

"When I was a boy of fourteen my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one I was astounded at how much the old man learned in seven years." --Mark Twain

Coach's Thought For The Day

"You can be harsh to your players and still coach, but it is easier if you are kind to them." --John Kessel

Writer's Thought For The Day:

"By making writing a part of your daily routine -- just like brushing your teeth -- you'll discipline yourself to work as a writer instead of a hobbyist who only writes where there's some fun to be had." --Theresa Grant

Deep Thought For The Day:

"If all those psychics know the winning lottery numbers, why are they all still working?"



"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever! Love, Trisha Silverhill, AL

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