This blog is the third installment of reflections upon the character of my mother, Johanna Beeke (d. July 23, 2012).
3. Kindness. Mother was incredibly kind. “The law of kindness” was in her heart, and therefore on her tongue and in all her facial expressions. When company was present, she would not forget about us. When we had a room full of God’s people in our home, which often happened when I was a boy, and I would catch her eye across the room, she would always smile warmly and kindly.
Perhaps I’m being forgetful, but I do not ever remember Mother criticizing anyone for anything. She said once to me, “You can talk about people as much as you want, as long as what you say is good.” Nor do I ever recall her speaking to me at any point in my life with any frustration, irritation, or anger in her voice.
When my wife asked her at her 80th birthday, “Mother, do you have any advice to give about how to handle children when you feel frustrated? How did you handle that?” Mother thought for ten seconds, then smiled sympathetically, and said, “I’m afraid, dear, that I just can’t recall ever getting frustrated with them.” Now that answer (which by the way, really did not help my wife) didn’t mean, I assure you, that we were all such good kids, but because the grace of God sanctified her character, in her tongue was “the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26). Perhaps that grace also sanctified her memory, so that she knew what to remember and what to forget!
I think Mother thought it was a double sin to criticize a minister because he is a servant of the Most High God. Since our church did not have a minister for many years, all the preachers that came to bring us God’s Word during most of those years would stay at our home. One of them even brought his dog, which I was by no means happy about, so I let my Mother know how I felt. She promptly rebuked me for criticizing even a minister’s dog!
Mother’s kindness radiated from her in scores of ways. When we were sick, she would often say—and meant it—that she wished she could be sick in our place. When a slice of toast got burnt, she was always the one to eat it. As children, when we left for school, she would wave to us from the front window for as long as she could see us. She always had time for us; she would ask us every day how school went.
I thank God that by His grace, He gave us a mother in whose tongue was “the law of kindness.”