When I think of women that inspire me, I do not have to look very far. That woman is my mom. However, I did not always feel that way about her. I did not truly began to appreciate who she was until I was in my 30s. Before then, our relationship was strained even though we both had been professed Christians for many years.
If the relationship with your adult children or your parents is strained, I hope my story can give you hope and some helpful tips. 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 have a heart-to-heart, I left feeling misunderstood. (You can read my testimony on how I turned to self cutting instead).
Honestly, she had no idea how to relate to me nor how to be nurturing. I don’t have any memories of her cuddling with me, reading me a book, nor just sitting on her lap. I was sexually abused as a toddler and for years I blamed her for it, for not protecting me. And even when she finally found out in me teenage years, I don’t think she knew how to help me through the pain.
After she became a Christian and I was already an adult she tried to apologize for the role she had played in my traumatic childhood. It did nothing for me. At a moments notice she could say or do something that seemed benign to an outsider but would trigger resentful feelings in me. 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, my mom, 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 Jesus several years before my mother’s radical transformation. I was around 13 when I came to Christ, but pride kept me from truly growing. Fast forward almost two decades later. I was already a wife and a mother. Whenever my mom would visit, it would turn into 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 woman who is quite the prayer warrior. She approached me in love, but had some words for me that were hard to hear. She told me I needed to ask for my mother’s forgiveness. You can imagine my reaction. What? Was she kidding me? For what? She was the one that had hurt me, ignored me.
My friend gently replied that God had told her that I needed to ask forgiveness for my arrogance. For thinking that somehow I was better, more knowledgeable, more Christian-like than her. Wow! Those words stung but went straight to my 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 as tears flowed uncontrollably. The blinders were lifted and I was finally able to see what an incredible woman she had become.
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. When our marriage was falling apart, she was instrumental in helping us see it through. And I am glad that now I can truly appreciate her for who she is.
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 Must Do to Heal a Broken Relationship
Because mother’s choices hurt me, 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 that had taken hold inside my heart. 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 justify our anger, but in God sees things differently, 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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