As a mom, you want to look at women who will inspire you. I do not have to look very far because for me that woman is my mom. However, it was not always that way. It was not until I was in my 30s that the relationship between my mom and I changed for the better. Before that our relationship was a mess even though we both had been Christians for many years. I write this story to give you hope if the relationship with your adult children or your parents is strained. It is possible to restore a broken mother-daughter relationship, but you will need to take some steps that are humbling and hard.
A Broken Mother-Daughter Relationship
By the time I was a teenager, I didn’t just have a broken relationship with my mom it was non-existent. I was hurting, depressed and the few times I tried to speak with her, I felt that she did not understand me. And honestly, she had no idea how to relate to me or how to be nurturing. I couldn’t remember a time as a child where she had cuddled with me or sat me on her lap. I had suffered abuse as a child and for years I blamed her for it, for not protecting me. As an adult, even though she had apologized to me for the role she had played in my traumatic childhood, it really did nothing to heal my heart. At a moments notice she could say or do something that seemed benign to an outsider but for me it would trigger resentful feelings I was nurturing. Those old wounds would come back to haunt me and create a barrier between this wonderful woman and myself. There was just so much baggage between us that I just couldn’t have that daughter-mother relationship so many other women had.
My Mother’s Trauma and Eventual Transformation
Lucy DeLeon is a woman that rose above a lot of pain, hurt, and abuse. She was born into a wealthy family in Guatemala, but was neglected by those whose attention she sought the most. Her mother showed her little love and was many times outright cruel. And things only got worse as she grew older. She was first married at 14 because of an unplanned pregnancy, suffered through divorce, had a child kidnapped, had my brother and I taken away from her, and the list goes on. When she was in her late 30s (and I was in my early twenties), my mother found Christ. It was after truly accepting Jesus that she began a process of forgiving those that had hurt her the most and her life changed forever. She was completely transformed, but it would take me many years to see this new person.
I Had to Humble Myself to Heal our Relationship
Interestingly, I had accepted Christ several years before my mother’s radical transformation when I was 13, but pride kept me from truly growing. Fast forward almost two decades later. By this point I was already a wife and a mother. Whenever my mom would come visit my family, it was a disaster and both she and I would end up in tears. Any little thing she would do, would just stir up a wave of emotions. Finally a good friend of mine stepped in.
My friend is a godly women who is quite the prayer warrior. She approached me gently but honestly had some words for me that were hard to hear. She told me I needed to ask for my mother’s forgiveness. What? Was she kidding me? For what? She was the one that had hurt me, ignored me. To those words my friend said that God had told her, I needed to ask for forgiveness for my arrogance. For thinking that somehow I was better than her, more knowledgeable than her, more Christian-like than her. Wow! Those words stung but went straight to the heart. Thankfully, I listened and obeyed. I repented of the things I had done and the pride I had shown that was keeping my relationship with my mother from truly healing. I set up a time to meet with her and I asked my mom (and my dad) for their forgiveness. In return they asked me to forgive them. The walls came tumbling down. All of a sudden I could finally see what an incredible woman my mom had become.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our Mother-Daughter Relationship Today
My mom currently helps my Dad run a successful Christian ministry in Laredo, TX. She has helped countless women get through their own pain and abuse. Her ministry has helped poor families get into homes of their own (Bubble Home Project). She developed a program to teach woman to run their own businesses by baking and sewing. She is recently working on helping poor families in Laredo learn how to grow their own crops. Her work is selfless, and she is bold and unafraid. Most important of all for me is that she is a great mom. She makes the best green pea soup and sweet potato waffles. She has incredible advice to give and my husband and I seek her wisdom in many areas of our lives. And I am glad that now I can truly appreciate her for who she is.
Proverbs 31:29-31 (ESV)
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
How You Can Help Heal a Broken Relationship
Because I was the one that was hurt as a child by my mother’s choices, I always thought my mom was the one that needed to take the steps to heal our relationship. I had refused to acknowledge the root of bitterness I had let fester inside. That is the reason that as an adult that no matter what my mom said, I always interpreted in a negative light. I couldn’t give her the benefit of the doubt. But the honest truth is that before God, we are all held accountable. Even those of us that have been abused have the responsibility to make godly choices. The world may understand why we are angry, but in God’s eyes, he is not just seeing your pain, he is also seeing the other person’s pain and what they went through. God could see that my mom was not nurturing because she herself had never been nurtured. He could see that my mom made the choices she did because she herself was reacting to the abandonment and abuse she had experienced. Eventually, I saw it too, but I had to make that critical first step.
If someone hurt you, you can still make that first step to reconciliation by acknowledging your own sin. In my case it was pride and arrogance. It seems counterintuitive, and it seems only fair that the other person should go first, but in reality, we are just as broken as they are. If you want to heal a broken relationship, you need to approach it with a humble heart and realize that we are all a big mess and in desperate need of Him.
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