For many years Mother’s Day was difficult for me. I had a hard time picking out a card for my Mama. For reasons I didn’t understand, I shied away from ones that talked about how great she was or how she had always been there for me. I searched for more generic cards that simply said “I love you” or “hope your day is great.” Inevitably, Mama would still declare that I picked out the nicest cards, and I would feel guilty. For some reason, I felt angry with her much of the time. Those who know me will be surprised to read this because everyone agreed that my mom was such a sweet lady.
My church began a healing prayer ministry when I was in my early 40’s. I decided to participate and explore my conflicted feelings toward my mother. I will never forget being shocked by some of the things that came out of my mouth as the prayer counselors and I invited Jesus to minister to deep places of pain in my heart that I had suppressed long ago. I actually discovered hidden pockets of hatred deep within that I surrendered to God. As I allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and impart understanding, a miracle occurred. My heart softened and forgiveness flowed out toward Mama like a mighty river.
I didn’t share details about this healing with Mama. I didn’t have a need to change her or hear her say she was sorry. I was simply free to truly love her for the first time in my life! Suddenly, buying a Mother’s Day card was no longer a problem. I delighted to buy her gifts and to spend time with her too. We enjoyed meaningful conversations, and I discovered new things about her, like her sense of humor, that I hadn’t noticed before. Some of my best memories occurred within the two-year period between my healing and the day she passed away. I had the privilege of caring for her during her brief, terminal illness. We prayed together daily, and she confessed things that weighed on her heart from long ago. In fact, the last thing Mama did, before slipping into the arms of Jesus, was sit up in bed and give me a hug. I am so thankful that God healed our relationship while she was still here on earth.
My brother told my daughter that it would destroy her grandmother if she told anyone that he had abused her, so she waited 15 years until after my mother died to tell me what had happened. My own memories also surfaced afterwards. I don’t think my mother ever knew about our abuse.
I’ve read that it is common for a sexually abused child, however, to believe that her mother knows, and that she subsequently failed to protect her. Perhaps at some level, similar suspicions contributed to my former feelings as well. Consequently, I am so thankful that my daughter broke her silence while I am still living, thereby giving me an opportunity to wrestle with difficult questions and to be a part of her healing journey today. As we celebrate Mother’s Day together this year, I remember my Mama in Heaven, and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day too.
Have you struggled with conflicting feelings toward your mom? What has Mother’s Day been like for you this year?