I sank down deeper into the pew, hoping that they Lord wasn’t speaking to me this Sunday.
The topic of the sermon was forgiveness and I was certain that I was good with everyone in my life. I didn’t feel angry or anxious, I was good – no need to walk up for prayer.
All of a sudden, I felt a rush of concern within. What if I truly hadn’t forgiven everyone in my life? What if I was still harboring unforgiveness unknowingly? What if this hidden ailment was causing me to miss out on some freedoms I should be experiencing?
Without hesitation, I placed my head down into my hands and began to quietly pray.
“Lord, is there anyone I should forgive?” Nothing but silence. I then tried to pray a little different to make sure I wasn’t blocking what God might have been trying to say.
“Lord, do I need to go up to the front for prayer?” I didn’t hear an audible reply but felt that I belonged at the altar. For a second, I was embarrassed. What would people think about me coming up here after all of this time? But I’d walked with God long enough to know I would not allow other’s opinions to block me from God’s goodness in my life.
As I stood with my hands out, head down, I was ready to receive whatever the Lord was trying to say. I prepared my heart for correction or something I might not want to hear. I surrendered my thoughts and quieted any distractions in my mind. All of a sudden, I heard God say “Your mother, she is loving you to her fullest capacity.”
What? How could you say that? What makes you say that?
It would take some weeks to unpack what God seemed to show me, but as soon as I believed the statement to be true, I felt a whoosh of internal relief – a weight was lifted from my heart.
My Mother and I were very close, I thought, and had worked on our communication for years. I didn’t think I held ANY unforgiveness in my heart for my her. One thing was for sure though, I didn’t believe she was giving me her best as a mother. I thought that eventually she would catch on to my expectations and become like the moms I saw in movies, commercials, and tv shows I watched over the years. I thought at some point, she would call me up and give me the answers to everything I was struggling with as a young adult. One day, she’d find the man of her dreams and help me figure out how to find mine. One day she would remember all of my siblings’ birthdays and her grandkids birthdays. Her house would be spotless and the fridge would be full of homemade meals whenever we visited.
I was loving my mother with conditions – that she would eventually live up to the perfect mother I felt I deserved. The reality is, my mother was a human being with limitations just like every other person on the earth. The truth that God was trying to show me was that I’d built up unrealistic expectations – my mother had given me everything she could. I was devastated that I would never experience the expectations in my mind. I was disappointed that I made up such ridiculous expectations that I would never live up to myself. I was more appreciative of my mother because God reminded me that my Mother loved me enough to empty out who she was in order to raise me, love me, and prepare me for the world as best she could.
As children, our parents are often seen as perfect – the type of people we are supposed to be. There then comes a time in our lives when we find out our parents are flawed and we never want to be anything like them. Later we become parents ourselves and actually become our parents! I don’t think that that’s a coincidence.
At some some point though, I had the privilege of receiving the truth that my Mother actually loved me to her fullest capacity – she no ability to show love beyond that point. I could suddenly stop expecting more from her and simply love and appreciate the mother she was to me. I was also filled with hope instead of fear when I found out I was pregnant with a little girl. One day, she would realize my flaws and I would happily admit them – allowing her to learn some things from me and go out into the world as a whole human being, loving her own flawed mother too.
Give your Mom a break, she’s human. She deserves your respect and honor just for birthing you. If you feel you’ve been wronged as a child and now adult, just know that God sees all and wants you to forgive the fault you find in your parents actions. People aren’t perfect and do not always know or make the best decisions in certain situations. One day, you might need the same grace and forgiveness extended to you from your own children.