2. We give ourselves permission to grieve.
Many times, we need to feel in order to heal. We need to recognize, name, and experience the grief that came with not having the mother our hearts craved. In many ways, we’re mourning a death—the death of a childhood dream, of parent-child expectations, and of all those moments we’d never experience.
According to Sarah Flynn, a registered counselor with Synergia Counseling and Consulting, “Grief is a necessary and restorative process that permits a person to bring new life and a renewed sense of hope to childhood hardship and deprivation. Looked at in this way, grief allows us to cleanse ourselves of hurt and loss and continue to grow and expand our sense of ourselves.” She suggests our failure to grieve well “can be more emotionally devastating than the loss itself.”
As we turn to God in the middle of our pain and seek His guidance, He’ll reveal deep wounds we’ve long suppressed. Not to hurt us, but to heal us. I’ve found such freedom in regularly praying Psalm 139:23-24, which states, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (NIV).
Using that passage as a prayer prompt, I might say, “Search me, God. Uncover those hidden hurts, those lies that have taken root deep within me. You know my every thought, including those that hold me in bondage. Remove every offensive, non-life-giving thing within me and lead me toward Your perfect, joy-filled ways.”
3. View the situation through the lens of grace.
I experienced the greatest healing once I began viewing my mother and her behavior with grace. I realized she never intended to hurt me. I knew some of the hurts and abandonment she herself had suffered. I came to realize that much of her behavior stemmed from the brokenness she had experienced. While this newfound understanding didn’t justify her actions, it did stir empathy within me. And gratitude that God was bringing me to a place of increased wholeness, not because I deserved it but simply because He was loving and good.
I imagine I’ll always feel a tinge of sadness when Mother’s Day comes. We all long for our moms, after all. But I now know the power and comfort that comes when we invite God into our wounded places and follow His lead toward increased freedom. He gives us His truth-filled perspective of the situation and our moms, helps us to grieve well, and to view our entire lives—our shortcomings and the shortcomings of others, through the understanding of grace.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz