In honor of mother’s day, I want to share a very real, raw story that is near and dear to my heart. It’s about the relationship between a Mother and her family, and how the Lord worked to bring them back together through His unconditional love. I am grateful to have my Mom’s blessing to share this story with you. She is the incredibly beautiful woman who raised us girls, and through her life has taught me what real redemption in Christ looks like.
A Relationship on the Rocks
If I can be honest, my relationship with my Mom for the longest time was on the rocks. Coming from a daughter’s perspective, I begrudged my Mom that I never got to have that “best friend” relationship that I saw so many of my peers having with their Moms. I loved her, yes; but she wasn’t necessarily my “role model”.
Why was this? I think Jessica puts it very eloquently in her post on our B.Well Instagram:
“As a young girl, teen and finally adult, [Mom] lacked the example of true maternal love. Just love from her family, really. And for as many years as I can remember, I’ve seen her struggle to love us and be loved back. She fought her own inadequacies as a mother so that we girls could live the life she never had. I used to misunderstand my Mom’s struggles. I used to get angry at her unpredictable emotions. But as we’ve both grown in Jesus’ unconditional love, I’ve come to learn that my precious Mother has spent most of her life in fear, and her emotions are only a product of her broken past.”
As a young teen, I really didn’t understand this. I just was bitter, and I sought solace by building my relationship with my Dad. I thought my Mom was living in sin, and that she needed to repent and move on. Plain and simple.
Actually, it wasn’t quite that simple.
A Turning Point
My Mom and Dad went to some incredible counselors this past Winter, and what was taught to them was truly liberating. To be honest, it was a turning point for our family. Like Jessica said above, my Mom was carrying around shame and guilt from her broken childhood that had nothing to do with sin on her part. Whether it was her sibling’s or parent’s sin, she carried it around as her fault. It became baggage that she mentally had no idea how to deal with. This created unhealthy mental patterns that manifested themselves in her marriage & family.
The story I have begun to tell you is one of a broken life that was beautifully redeemed. I’m going to be blunt here and spell it out plain as day: our family is a very dysfunctional one. I don’t care how perfect we may seem in the pictures we post or the articles we write; much of the behind-the-scenes you haven’t seen over the past 2-3 years has been soul-wrecking to the heaviest degree.
If there’s one thing our family has been learning, it is that sweeping the brokenness and shame under the rug and pretending like it’s not there is one of the most unhealthy things you can possibly do.
I remember one day in particular when Jess and I were having it out at Mom, ranting about her behavior of late, trying to shake sense into her. Her response was completely unexpected. After so many years of witnessing her adding more and more bricks to the wall surrounding her heart each time someone would confront her, at that moment she actually began breaking it down to let us in.
As I listened to her pour out her heart to us, I knew that I could never view Mom the same way again. I realized that I had lived my whole teen years holding out for this one moment. It was then that I understood all I had ever wanted was for her break down so that God could build her back up. Truly all the glory goes to God who answered many, many prayers that day.
Brokenness made Whole
Why do I share all this? Yeah, it may seem weird, even dangerous, to open up about your dysfunctional family on the internet. But as Christians, our stories are not those of perfection and accomplishments, but of humility and redemption. Every single one of you reading this is a messed up, broken human being. You’ve got thoughts, actions, and troubles you would never want to see the light. But you know what God’s word says?
“and all the things reproved by the light are manifested, for everything that is manifested is light” (Eph 5:13)
This Mothers Day, if you are dealing with a dysfunctional parent, I encourage you to hold out for them. Keep praying for them. Show tough love to them. But whatever you do, don’t pull away or sweep the shame under the rug.
For quite a few months, actually, I was very close to just leaving home and all of the dysfunction. I was exhausted trying to figure out why my relationship with Mom was so tenuous, and I wanted to move on in life. I know it was God’s hand that stayed me and strengthened me to push through. I can’t even begin to describe how worth it all the pain was, to see my Mom find redemption and wholeness again in the Lord. It has taken many, many years, yes: but all those years are but a sigh compared to the hope our family has now.
God’s Love Wrecks You
You are messed up. Your parents are messed up. If you both are children of God, however, there is hope. You can have full assurance you and your parents will find wholeness in Christ, even if that’s later on in life. As I heard Matt Chandler put it in one of his sermons, God’s love will wreck you until you are forced to face the light and return to Him. It may take a few days, it may take years; but nothing can separate you from His steadfast, abundant love.
Your family isn’t meant to have an ideal life that composes perfect Instagram photos & captions. It’s meant to be a story of broken redemption that draws you closer to Christ, and further away from the world. Hold onto this fact tenaciously, pursue God relentlessly, and pursue your parents even when it feels like the hardest thing you could possibly do.
Because you are unconditionally loved by a heavenly Father who relentlessly pursues you.