Article by: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
I press the button to end our call and brace myself for the tsunami of emotions that rush over me after a tense conversation with my mom.
I had prepared the words beforehand; rehearsed them over and over in my mind.
But I must have said something wrong.
Her parting words were still ringing in my ears, “I wish you remembered the first ten years of your life. You and I were so close when you were little; we did everything together. I just don’t understand why you choose to only remember the bad.”
This is how it always plays out.
Every time I risk revealing the broken little girl behind the facade, she inevitably shuts down, withdraws in pain, and erects a shield of hurt.
I desperately want to build a bridge between her heart and mine, but I have no clue where to start.I want to mend my relationship with my mom, but I don't know where to start.
How to move forward with my mom?
Fear creeps into my heart as I think of my two daughters under the age of ten.
It is very possible they will only remember glimpses, shadows from these precious years.
If I can’t figure out what went wrong between my mother and me, how can I be certain not to repeat the mistake with my own girls?
With tears streaming down my face, I pull out a piece of paper and try to remember my first decade of life—an hour later, I’d written down just a few simple memories.
Mom tenderly rubbing my back during church.
Our playful wrestling matches on her king-sized bed.
Warm baths together after a long day with the horses.
A handful glimpses into the life of a little girl who was happy and loved—her mom solidly in her orbit.
I desperately want to remember more but those formative years are all but lost to me.
Yet I have no trouble remembering the strife we experienced during my tumultuous teen years.
The moments she failed to fill the piece of my heart I reserved just for her.
I thought if I moved next door to my mom, I would find the intimacy I had been longing for.
But the close proximity only served to exacerbate the underlying issues in our relationship.
Truthfully, I just want to move beyond it all—to be free from the past so we can build a fresh future together.Does your mom fail to fill the piece of your heart reserved just for her?
Wiping the Slate Clean
As I look inside my fearful heart, I glimpse what my mother must have been feeling as we exchanged those tense words over the phone.
She knows how much she loves me.
She knows the sacrifices she made for me.
She knows she did her best.
What more can any daughter ask of her mother?
As my half-empty cup of coffee cools on the kitchen table, I realize it is time to begin viewing my relationship with my mom as half full.
It is time for me to stop criticizing my mom’s every move and start prayerfully considering my responsibility in our relationship.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “(Love) bares all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
I always expected to receive this kind of love from my mom, but I failed to recognize God expects the same of me.What is the daughter's responsibility in the mother-daughter relationship?
When God looks at me, He does not see my past sins.
My slate has been wiped white as snow because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Maybe it’s time for me to wipe my mom’s slate clean.
If I could learn to love my mom selflessly, maybe our wounds could heal and our relationship could be redeemed.Can God's love heal and redeem my mother-daughter relationship?
As this fresh hope seeps into the cracks of my soul, I rush to my little red writing desk and pen these words:
Mom, I will never be able to love you as perfectly or unconditionally as God has loved you, but I will dedicate the rest of my life to loving you better.
A Different Kind of Love for Mom
It’s been a year since I made the commitment to love my mom well.
After decades of looking after my own interests in my mother-daughter relationship, I was trapped in a cycle of fruitlessness.
Nothing is worse than tending a plant all season long, only to discover that it failed to produce a harvest.
It is as though the greedy plant sucked up all the life and love and just kept it for itself.
Sadly, I used to be extraordinarily selfish in my relationship with my mom.Sadly, I used to be extraordinarily selfish in my relationship with my mom.
I was so consumed with my own needs and desires that I was just like that greedy plant—unfit to produce a harvest.
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:24-25(NIV)
But then, by God’s grace, a new seed of love for my mother was planted in my heart.
This love was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
It freed me up to love my mom selflessly and without reservation.
That seed of love produced an abundant harvest in my life, and within that harvest I found more seeds.
For where there is real fruit, you will always find in it seed for more fruit.Where there is real fruit, you will always find in it seed for more fruit.
So I eagerly planted those seeds and before I knew it I had all sorts of spiritual fruit growing in my heart.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
I learned how to be patient with my mom and treat her with the kindness and gentleness she deserved.
God’s peace guarded my heart against the selfishness, jealousy, and indifference of my past.
I no longer ache for my mom to pursue me because I am always in faithful pursuit of her.
I now have a heavenly perspective on my role as daughter and am learning to treat my mother with gentleness and self-control.
I am completely transformed.
And so is she!I no longer ache for my mom to pursue me, because I am always in faithful pursuit of her.
Beauty for Ashes
When I gave God my ashes, He gave me something beautiful in return.
He gave me the key to my mom’s heart.
God restored and redeemed what Satan spent years trying to destroy.God restored and redeemed what Satan spent years trying to destroy.
Beauty for ashes. The best gift of all!
Our God is in the restoration business; there is no relationship on earth beyond the reach of His agape love.
It’s not easy to love our moms—selflessly and without expectation—but it is what God has asked of us.
And God never asks anything He does not also empower us to do.God never asks anything He does not also empower us to do.
Even if your mother-daughter relationship is never restored this side of heaven, you can have peace in knowing that you did everything within your power to love your mom well.
And isn’t peace what you’ve been longing for, after all?
Read our Full Story:
1: To the Grown Daughter Who Has Failed to Love Her Mother Well.
2: Here’s What Happened When I Chose to Forgive My Mom.
3: Careless Words and Broken Egg Shells
4: Fiercely Loving My Perfectly Imperfect Mom
5: Beauty for Ashes: How God Redeemed My Mother-Daughter Story