Needed sensory deprivation evaded my rearing. Fresh with me are Mom’s stern looks and unchallenged tone of voice and any threat of death by hickory or forced gagging from Brussels sprouts. Long are the wishes for escape when my bothering had aroused one of her guaranteed responses. I feared June T. Cheatham before God ever entered my thinking; and today, I still believe one supersedes the other. Guess.

Covering me today is a feeling Mom framed me, took advantage of my youth and inexperience, and downright baited and switched me. Most humans lean toward fight or flight. Experience showed me a third option — swallowing words. I never escaped her, but I did finally outrun the hickory.

Youth bends toward the falsehood time unclips its leash long enough to lure us into the idea that youth just might be one long, joyful unending summer day, that we may be its one untouched exception and left forgotten by it. But time is a linear tyrant and catches us all. Mom’s aura reached beyond my unfettered youth and into the great imperfect multi-tasking yoke of adulthood.

Mom was a bootstrap individual and expected from her children the same. Long left in the trash bin of my youth is any bent toward victimhood. Mom just wouldn’t tolerate it. Fear has a way.

If life ever weakened me toward a victim’s temptation, Mom’s teaching eventually surfaced. I learned two things from Mom. I was imperfect and needed molding, and … fear is a loving teacher. Her own life informed her prescience. That I might be prepared for life’s experience and its many crossroads, when time itself would clip its leash to me once again and tether me with every borrowed day, she purposed her method.

Earthly fear, June T. Cheatham fear, may be well-reasoned into an apparition’s grave. But Godly fear confronts our willfulness, weighs us against eternity, brings us to humility before God and restores the longing in our soul. Godly fear reaches long and admits our imperfection in the presence of the Trinity.

In John 17:21, Jesus says, “I pray that all of them may be one. I pray that just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, so they too may be in us, for it is this that will make the world believe that you have sent me.” (William Barclay Translation)

God is greater than our understanding, His forgiveness endures forever, His mercy is boundless, His love overcometh all things. If we are to live in the Trinity, if this is Christ’s prayer, how lowly and humble we must become, how different we must think about our self and others, relinquish all pride and accept the truth we are equally imperfect before God and so unequal in our response.

Unintended, Mom taught me all these things. “So they might believe,” Jesus always said.

So they might.

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.