We often hear about the beauty of the relationship between a mother and her child. It is a relationship that symbolizes nurture and love and kindness. Sometimes, however, that relationship is fraught with deprivation rather than nurture, indifference rather than love, or neglect rather than kindness.
Our relationships with our mothers can shape what we believe about ourselves. How can we learn who we are in God’s eyes when our self-perception has been tarnished by a difficult mother-child relationship?
I’m happy to have guest author Lori Byerly from The Generous Wife here to share how she moved past the lessons she learned from her mother.
Understatement: I had a difficult relationship with my mom.
I know she wanted to love well, but her personal wounds often meant anger, criticism, and disdain.
My older sister responded in rage and personal attacks. By the time I was old enough to remember, my mom and sister were the angry monsters in my life. My older sister (something of a second mom) punished me because I was an inconvenience to her life. My mom dumped on me because she was hurt and angry and I was an easy target. I also got the overflow of her anger with my sister.
In words and actions they taught me I was worthless, ugly, and weak. Being a kid, I believed them. I couldn’t do anything right, I was never going to be pretty, and I was stupid, just plain stupid.
In high school I had a couple of teachers that took an interest in me. They spoke to me kindly, even respectfully. I hardly knew how to respond, but in time I realized I would soon be an adult and I could choose how I would live. I still didn’t believe I would amount to much, but there was some hope I could build a life where anger didn’t rule.
A few years later I became more serious about my relationship with Jesus. I read my Bible and began to understand there was a battle going on.
A difficult marriage, a daughter, and a divorce later (yes, we tend to marry what we know), I continued to pray and look for truth. I studied and read good books.
Then I met and married a man who lived out his love for me. He gave me a safe place in which to fall apart. He walked with me through the painful memories and always spoke truth to me. He helped me see what my experiences had “taught” me about myself, God, and others.
I’ve had to examine everything. It’s been a huge chore, but pretty much everything foundational in my life was riddled with lies. The work of my life has been to ferret out those lies and go to God for His truth.
Today I know who I am in Him. I know I am loved by my sweetie and others. I have a life that is ruled by kindness and respect.
I am making peace with how God designed me. In the last couple of weeks I’ve crocheted a slouch hat for my husband, made several pairs of earrings, and painted my toenails. I have two blogs (one marriage themed, the other art) and I do a truckload of bookkeeping (no life is perfect). My husband and I live and travel in an RV (though at the moment we are settled down in Washington state next door to our cute grandson). We help lead a marriage group at our church and I’ve started taking better care of myself, working on a healthy diet and exercise as a lifestyle.
All these things are signs of a life being lived. I am no longer the little girl cowed by her mother’s anger and judgments. There are days I grieve the loss of what could have been (should have been?), but I’m allowing God to use my wounds and scars for his purposes. I have forgiven my mom and sister, though I have no real relationship with them, by their choice. I actually have a fair amount of compassion for them. I know their lives have not been easy and I hope they too will find greater truth and the peace that follows.
For those of you who have read my story and identify in some way, please know that you are a delightful creation. You have worth and value.
There is an enemy who would love to keep you tied to any lies you believe. I encourage you to turn to God who is Truth and allow Him to comfort your heart and teach you. Look especially at those things that define you ~ your personal makeup, your femininity, those areas where you are personally gifted. Those are all good things. God made you that way and delights in who you are.
Here are a few resources that have been helpful to me along the way.
- The Bible
- any book by Neil Anderson
- any book by Holley Gerth (her blog – http://holleygerth.com/)
- Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud
- The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
- Healing the Wounded Heart by Dan B. Allender (though this book is primarily about sexual abuse, it deals well with understanding abuse and the fallout)
Also: Buddy up to gals who know who they are, women who are comfortable with their gender, and people who live in a kindly, respectful way. You can learn a lot from them by just being around them.
Image credit | jill111 at Pixabay.com