I was resting in bed upstairs as I recovered from a major surgery. My children’s laughter reached the bedroom and woke me up. They were giggling of excitement as grandma once again came up with a new, creative way to play with them.
I smiled and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving for my mom. Once again, this loving woman had dropped everything in her life and had flown 6,000 miles to take care of me and my family in a time of need. Regardless of distance, time or cost, I know that as long as God gives her breath, I can always count on my mom.
My mind goes back in time and I remember our relationship as I grew up. As many women of her day, mom had to work five days a week and sometimes on the weekends to help the family budget; therefore she was not very involved in our day-to-day activities. During the teenage years, as my parents’ relationship became stormy, we were all victims in the consequences of a broken marriage. Hormones and anger made my young mind shut down to any common sense. The hurt of seeing my parents growing apart blinded any attempt to understand my mother and so our relationship became distant and shaky.
As we both struggled with our individual crisis, we hurt each other deeply. As in many other mother-daughter situations that I have known, there was pain, misunderstanding and incompatibility for far too many years.
Today, however, in spite of anything in the past, I can honestly say that Mom is a best friend. I long to see her and spend time with her. I love to hear her voice when I dial her number. And even though our personalities are pretty different and we don’t always agree, our love and longing to be together grows deeper with each passing year.
We set each other free.
We can’t help but grow old, but we have to choose to grow wiser.
As a grown woman, I started to understand her longings, sorrows and disappointments. I often made myself put on her shoes to imagine her experiences.
When I became a Christian at 25, I realized for the first time that no one is worthy of forgiveness; however that is exactly what Christ offers to anyone who will ask. I also came to realize that true love never withholds forgiveness and that we cannot expect to be forgiven if we don’t forgive others. This former Catholic school girl knew all too well the words of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11: “And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
I know several mothers and daughters who are wasting time and missing out an abundant life with each other because of unforgiveness. I know daughters who dread the thought of being around their mother and mothers whose daughter can never measure up to their expectations. I know mothers who compete with their daughters and daughters who will never agree with their moms, even when they are absolutely right. The same occurs in different relationships where trust and dreams are shattered. Without forgiveness there is no factual restoration. Without restoration, our future is bound to defeat. Heaven shuts down. Our Faith Bridge stays broken and therefore nonfunctional.
As we stand in a position of self-righteousness, holding on to thirty year old grudges, we fail to realize that we are the ones held in bondage. Even if the person who wronged you has a hardened heart and continually hurts you, do yourself a favor: Set them free! Ask God to help you forgive them and pray for them. Extend the same forgiveness that you so long to receive from those you hurt.
I cannot remember exactly when it started, but somewhere along life’s way, I started to choose to love my mom for whom she is. I don’t try to change her and I don’t look back anymore. I look forward to the years we have ahead of us. No matter how many we have, I am choosing, one step at a time, to fully, abundantly enjoy each one.
Regardless of who hurt you, whether it was a parent, spouse or friend, forgiving is not easy. Actually, I believe it’s quite impossible without God. But with His help, you can.
Have you tried asking Him to help you overcome?
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
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About Patricia Holbrook
Patricia Holbrook is a Faith columnist, national speaker and the author of Twelve Inches: Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel. She also writes a weekly blog containing a series of thought-provoking devotionals at www.soaringwithHim.com.
Her passion for challenging her audience’s faith and walk with God has quickly made her website a popular place for people from over 20 countries. Her weekly devotionals are now translated into Spanish and Portuguese as well. Patricia is a columnist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the largest newspaper in the South and reaching 500,000 readers weekly in Georgia, Alabama, and north of Florida. She is a guest writer for Christian blogs, and a content contributor for iDisciple, the popular app developed by nationwide retailer Family Christian stores.
Patricia is originally from Brazil and has lived in the United States since 1999. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology.
She writes in between car lines, homeschool lessons, tears and laughter. She lives in Georgia with her husband Steve, their two daughters and their miniature Schnauzer Jingle Bells.