In honor of Mother’s Day. ( Yes, I know it’s a little early!)
I became a Christian, really became one anyway, about 7 years ago. And since then every real prayer I have had has been met and answered by the Lord. Not silly prayers for more money or better cars, but the prayers I prayed where my heart met God’s for reconcilliation, restoration, or healing from past wounds.
My love language is touch. Ask my husband or my co-workers and they will tell you the best way to let me know you love me is to hug me, put your arm around me, or pat/rub my back. I believe there is truly nothing more intimate or a greater display of care for me than to wipe a tear off my cheek if I’m crying. Unfortunately for me, my mother is not a toucher and never has been, not even when I was a small child or teenager. Thankfully, this is something she has greatly changed for her grandchilden. Sadly, this led to many a weepy night thinking that my mom didn’t love me as much as I deeply wanted her to.
My mom and I spent most of my childhood and through my young adulthood at odds with each other. Life had been pretty heavy handed with my mom and that caused her to become a bit hard and rough around the edges. She was married with two children at a terribly young age, then divorced and learning to be a single mom still at an age much younger than anyone should have to know how to navigate such things. She spent most of her life surrounded by people who didn’t support her well and without the community, mentors, and financial resources to be a success. I don’t mean a financial success. I mean a whole, healthy woman who knows she is beloved by God and her family. Later she met my father, and I can assure you that was the best and one of the hardest things she ever did. My father was a wonderful, wonderful man (I will write about him closer to Father’s Day), but life with him was challenging to say the least.
I don’t think Mom knows this, but something that has brought me enormous joy throughout my life is that she wanted me and planned for me. Out of her 4 children I was the only one that was “on purpose”. The rest were surprises. But that’s the rub. She wanted me and planned for me- not Dad. And then throughout my life I was his favorite and he was mine. Being a mother now, I can only imagine the hurt that must have caused. He and I were close and she felt like she couldn’t break in. So needless to say, my relationship with her was tenuous at best and down right ugly at worst (my mom is a very passionate woman and I’m just like her!).
It can be remarkable the things you learn once you become a parent yourself. My life, too, has been marked by immense tragedy and hardships. I also had my son too young. As I have raised Noah I have seen my shortcomings and failures. I have understood how much junk I was dealing with in my own heart and life. I have truly done the best I could by him, knowing there were plenty of times my best wasn’t good enough and just hoping that he wouldn’t remember all the bad stuff. Once, in my early 20’s I had a therapist who asked me if I could name my bad qualities as a human being. I said, “Sure!” and began to list them off. Then he asked me if I thought my mom had bad qualities as a human being, things that had absolutley nothing to do with me. I can honestly say I had never ever considered my mother as a regular woman before that moment- until then I had only been able to see her through the lens of the little girl that wasn’t shown enough physical affection.
Even though it would be a few more years before total restoration came, everything started to change that day. I realized my mother was a woman who had been tossed around by the life she was given and the truth was she had done a damn remarkable job at being a mom, a wife, a woman, a support, and a caregiver. My mother is one tough broad and I think she passed a little of that on to me. My mother may not be touchy, but she is generous and fair. My favorite parts of my mom are that she has such a fantastic sense of humor and will FIGHT for the marginalized and oppressed. She has always been on the side of those who couldn’t speak for themselves. At work we have recently taken personality tests and part of my results show that I have “the need to be against”. Which means I can be contrary just to be contrary, but it can also mean that I will fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I’m pretty sure my mother taught me that!
As I continued in relationship with Jesus, I prayed that he would bring full healing to my mom and me. We have worked hard- me, her, and Jesus to make this thing right. We have talked about all of the hurt, even the details. We have apologized, we have cried, and reminisced, and a couple of times we have even hugged tightly and fiercely. He brought redemption and healing to that dark and broken place. I can honestly say she is my best friend and truest confidant. Now I’m able see how she has always done the very best she could being as broken as she was. And mercifully, she believes I have done the best I could do being as broken as I was.
None of this came quickly. This restoration has been years in the making and in this particular case, my mom and I have truly been long suffering. But the Lord hears each prayer I utter and it is His desire to touch and to heal even the oldest and deepest of my wounds. Even the ones I didn’t dare to hope He would.