The Path to Reconciliation
“Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions.” ~Gerald Jampolsky
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.’ (Exodus 20:12 NKJV)
Although February contained many special days – to show love, to reflect on black history, and to celebrate our presidents – for me, it has been an opportunity to celebrate my birthday and to thank God for another year; to seek His guidance; to open my heart and my mind to the new changes I feel that He wants to accomplish in my life.
I’m a creature of habit, so I never really anticipate this time of year. Routine brings comfort and real change presents a challenge for me. It becomes a test of my faith, a chance for me to trust God, and now, an opportunity to develop a heart filled with hope.
I want to figure out what the Lord is up to this year. Some days I sense turmoil, a disturbance that forces me to cling to Him and trust that whatever He does will make my life better (Romans 8:28).
So, I’m praying that God will help me do as my friend Jo reminded me – “To remember that HOPE is an indication of certainty and that it’s also a strong and confident expectation.”
As I anchor my hope to the Lord, I’m learning to say to Him, “Yes.” To accept the lessons and tests as they come; to rely on the Holy Spirit to transform my character, day by day, helping me to become more Christ-like.
Allowing God to mold me prompted me to write about this difficult subject. I tried to avoid it, but it pressed against me until I decided to release it. To let go. To obey.
Because this issue involved hurt, pain, disappointment and confusion. Yet, when I took the time to look back, I realized that most of my strength, my courage, and my will to fight were directly linked to it. It taught me to forgive, to let go of bitterness, to walk in love, and to pray for the hope of reconciliation.
What is it?
My relationship with my mother.
My mother and I went through a rough period a while back, and I became an outcast to my immediate family and to some close friends at church. It took years for us to reach a fragile sense of peace, to be in the same room without everyone noticing the awkward tension between us. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t fix the rift.
I longed for more. I wanted to share my dreams with her and to get advice for my challenges. I wanted to discuss the mundane things going on in my days with her. I wanted a friend.
It took a conversation with my father for me to change my perspective. It happened when he shared an observation that one of his close friends made about me. “She’s always loved you unconditionally and you’re blessed to have a daughter like that.”
Instead of making me feel proud and appreciated, the comment convicted me. I felt like a hypocrite. Yes, I favored my father because a relationship with him was easier and conflict free.
I’m sure my mother sensed it, and I wondered if that was part of the reason she pulled away from me. I couldn’t excuse her actions, but I knew I must accept responsibility for the ugly heart attitude that I harbored. And as I fell on my knees, crying out to God for repentance, I felt a burden lift inside of me.
I prayed daily, asking God to help me love my mother unconditionally because I wanted to have a heart for her like He had for me.
Over the next few years, God healed me of the anger, bitterness, and hurt. He allowed me to see her in a different light. Her sacrifices. Hardships. Fear and uncertainty. Trying to do her best, but making mistakes along the way.
I’m sure there were times when she thought she had expressed love in a way I could understand, but her actions were totally misread, resulting in hurt feelings.
Whenever my children told me that I was a good mother, I always thought of my mother. At first, I didn’t want to admit that I learned to be a good mother from her, but I realized that she set the example for me. If my children thought of me as loving, supportive, kind, and compassionate, what did that really tell me about her?
She had always loved me, too. Unconditionally. Protectively. Fiercely. Completely.
I just needed to learn how to look at life through her eyes – through the eyes of a woman, who was not flawless, but who loved the best way she knew how. It has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. And even though our relationship has not been ideal, it has gotten better.
That’s why I’m grieving today. Because I know that my vision of a perfect relationship with my mother will never be possible. A couple of years ago, she was hospitalized and diagnosed with a mental illness. Some days, the world she lives in is not real, and we don’t know if she will ever be one hundred percent sane again.
I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to understand it. It hurts and when I’m honest with myself, it scares me. It breaks my heart.
Sometimes she seems fine. Other days it is impossible. However, no matter what type of day she is having, she always reminds me that Jesus loves me and that I can always trust the Lord to take care of me. Through it all, she remembers to remind me to pray – just like she taught me the importance of prayer when I was little. She tells me that she prays for me, my husband, and our children, and she never ends a conversation without asking me how can she pray for me.
My family and I pray for her daily, asking God to give her peace, and He continues to be merciful. And even though this is a difficult time for us, we see His hand at work and are filled with hope because we trust in His Word and His promises of eternity (Philippians 3:20-12; Revelation 21:4-5).
I’m thankful for this long road that I’ve had to endure because without the pain, I would not be able to appreciate the beauty of a transformed heart, the gentleness that comes with forgiveness, or the hope that I feel every time my mother talks about the Lord.
She will never be able to love me like I once thought I needed her to, and, I finally realize that it is OK with me.
I have no idea what your “hopeless” situation may be, but I would like to encourage you not to give up on God. Keep praying, keep trusting, keep hoping.
He is able to take a situation that seems impossible and transform it into something new, something different, something better. He changes fear into hope, anger into forgiveness, hurt into peace, and bitterness into love and mercy. All we have to do is give Him our hearts, our sorrows, our pain, everything that weighs us down and keeps us from moving forward.
He knows that we are frustrated, weary, and searching for something to bring us peace. He offers the better way (Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 11:29-30; I John 4:20-21;).
I know because He did it for my mother and me.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Please help us walk in love and forgiveness. Keep our hope, faith, and trust focused on You. As You transform our lives, give us the courage to share our stories, to tell how Your hand on our lives makes all the difference. Use us to bring hope and encouragement to the world around us.