I’d like to pose a question. Do you know anyone in this world who has ever disliked or said anything bad about Jan Knox? Go ahead, mull it over. Take as much time as you like. I am 100% sure that you can’t think of a single name. I’m just as confident that will remain true forever. In fact I’d like for this blog post to be the official start of my campaign to have my mother considered for sainthood. Now, I know I probably don’t have the kind of sway with the Pope to get that done, so I’ll just have to rely on his ability to recognize the facts.
The process for sainthood is long and complex, but there are six major requirements that are universally accepted as the model for saints. These six requirements, according to John A. Coleman, are for this person to be: an exemplary model, an extraordinary teacher, a wonder worker or source of benevolent power, an intercessor, having a life often refusing material attachments or comforts, and possession of a special and revelatory relation to the holy.
1. An Exemplary Model- It’s a widely said maxim that every boy wants to marry a girl like his mother. To be honest, I don’t think I could do it. I would spend every day of my life scratching my head as to why this perfect woman has chosen to spend her life with a bullheaded, walking mistake-maker like myself. But I do know this. Every girl who I have ever been close with has looked up to my mom as a role model, and I am quite confident that any woman foolish enough to marry me will likely do so in no small part because she would want to have Jan Knox as a mentor and mother-in-law.
2. An Extraordinary Teacher- My mother has been teaching for her entire adult life. Whether she has been leading bible studies, teaching adult and children’s Sunday School classes, filling in as a substitute in raucous middle school classrooms, or writing for various instructive publications, Jan Knox has touched the lives of hundreds of individuals through her unique ability to combine humility, wisdom, and humor in her instruction.
3. A Wonder Worker- This is often the hardest requirement to fulfill, because it is widely recognized that every saint must have a “miracle” happen as during the course of their work. For my mom, this is the easiest one. The fact that she has raised and put up with three rowdy sons, and an equally ornery husband is a miracle beyond my comprehension. The amount of times that a normal, reasonable human being would have been justified in losing their cool because of our shenanigans is innumerable. And yet, she has managed to keep us all in line with logic, patience, compassionate sternness, and a type of love that I have yet to completely understand. How is that not a divine miracle?
4. An Intercessor- The doctrine of intercession holds that the dead can pray, or intercede, on behalf of the living. Now, theological debates about the validity of this doctrine aside, being an intercessor doesn’t require you to be dead. In fact, we are urged to give prayers on behalf of other people as living beings. Now, I obviously am not privy to the personal prayers of my mother, but the number of times she has reminded me to pray for a specific person because of their struggles tells me that she is spending time every day interceding for those of us who desperately need the prayers of others.
5. A Life Rejecting Material Comforts- Let’s be honest. We have a really nice couch in our living room. I don’t think anyone would make the argument that anyone in my family is living a life of intentional poverty (although the amount of ramen noodles I’ve had to eat as of late could make a strong case for it). However, I have never once heard my mom complain about her material status in life. That’s a job for me and my brothers. In fact, if we want to talk about rejecting comfort, let’s talk about Jan Knox going back to work. When I left for ACU, I had received a very generous Presidential Scholarship. However, there were thousands of dollars in other expenses that would have to be paid throughout my four years. Would my parents have been justified in telling me that I would need to work two jobs and take out student loans to cover these expenses myself? Of course. It’s my education. Instead, my mom decided to go back to work and help my brothers and I pay for those expenses.
6. A Special Relationship to the Holy- I know that we all theologically have a direct line to God through Christ, but I’d like to think that Jan Knox’s direct line is a smart phone. The amount of time she spends every day sitting in her study chair, reading the Bible, books on faith, and writing her thoughts and lessons is mind-boggling. She works full time, manages our family’s finances, keeps our family fed, clothed, and clean, and still finds time to spend hours meditating on the Word. That is a pure definition of a “special relationship to the Holy” if I ever heard one.
I’ve often heard people jokingly refer to my mom as Saint Jan. After writing this, I’m quite sure that there is more truth to that joke than anyone realizes. Mother’s Day is a great way for us to put everything aside and honor the strong, incredible women who have changed our lives. But, to be honest, not a day goes by where I don’t feel a little bit incredulous about how amazing my mother is. Pope Benedict, I don’t know if you’re an avid reader of my dad’s blog or not, but if you’re reading this, get the ball rolling on Jan Knox’s sainthood. It’ll be the easiest decision you’ll ever have to make.