Whenever ways of relating are challenged and changed, expect waves. We all love what is known because it is familiar. And even if the known is unhealthy—even if the known hurts, we tend to stay the course, hoping for change. The status quo of my relationship with Mom followed a few rules:
When one is a child, survival is supreme. We twist and distort ourselves into all sorts of shapes in an effort to breathe, to stay alive emotionally, to accommodate ourselves to our soul-cramped reality, hoping our lives will change for the better but rarely having the power, position, or knowledge to bring about healthy change.
And the result of all the twisting and distorting of self? We lose ourselves—our true selves, as God created us. We wither in our cramped soul-space and we enter adulthood not knowing who we are, why we’re here, how to relate in a healthy, meaningful way to anyone. Fear and falseness rule. Our souls lay buried beneath layers soul rubble and if we survive the tear-down, we try to dig ourselves out. And we scratch for solace and scream for help in a myriad of ways. And those ways, every way we try to dig ourselves out, all those addictions of food and work and accomplishment and drugs and alcohol and sex and relationships and money and possessions and babies and fill-in-the-blank? These add more rubble. The weight of brokenness increases and the soul-space reduces and our voice—our heart—is further—buried—alive. What’s worse than being dead? Being buried alive. Alone. No one hearing. No one seeing. No one searching. Alone.
Mom had me so convinced that she knew me better than I knew myself that I doubted my every thought, my every feeling, my every move. As an independent woman in my early twenties, I had anxiety attacks whenever I shopped for clothes because I had no idea what I liked or what looked good on me. All my life, I had been told—not asked. How does one develop a sense of self when the self is told who she is, how she should look, how she should feel, how she should behave? How does one come to know herself when she’s never helped to know herself? When she’s told who she is and the definition of another—a mother—is final. Hammer on gavel. Judgment made. Case closed. And the closed case is a young woman with open wounds gaping and gushing soul, bleeding out and dying fast, buried alive, and she’s only 22 years old . . .
I needed excavation from all my layers of soul-rubble . . .
I put myself in the care of a psychologist back then—an ordained Presbyterian pastor turned clinical psychologist—the best blend of spiritual and psychological I could find. My mother disliked him intensely. She told me so. Why? “I just do,” is all she would say. But I knew. He threatened her. Not that he actually threatened her, but Mom was astute enough to know I was being coached because I began breaking the status quo. The family boat was rocking and she knew I had not enough strength of my own to challenge years of ingrained mother-teaching.
From Mom’s perspective, I’m sure she was scared. Scared of losing me. Scared of being judged and condemned. And scared humans can lash out horrible words and behaviors. Scared humans can sacrifice their children’s souls to gain some semblance of security. I’ve seen it. Over and over. It’s not just my mother who did it. I’ve seen fathers sacrifice their sons. I’ve seen mothers sacrifice their daughters. The parents who conceived and birthed and raised God’s gift go about sacrificing His gift on the altar of scared, hoping to find some relief.
And the outcome of the sacrifice? Scarred. Both parent and child get scarred. And the love each wants and desperately seeks? Love evades. Fog is seen but not grasped—a wisp—a wind—a vapor. And isn’t it sad? So sad? This love both parent and child so desperately seek—so free for the taking if taken from Christ—goes by each without stopping, without visiting for but maybe a fleeting moment or two, blown away by the winds of brokenness? It passes by both parent and child without either being able to hold, to claim, to absorb, to heal. All the parents and children who want the same but still go to bed each and every night so starved, so wounded, so—deep down—alone—and unfilled. Is this how God intended families? Is this how God intended parent-child relationship? Is this the fate of mother-daughter, father-son?
I will NOT accept the death sentence! I will NOT accept life in prison!
I WILL NOT!
Because this is NOT God’s way! This is NOT why Christ came! This is NOT what I want and I will NOT accept ANYTHING less than what GOD wants—for us to be free to love and be loved.
I said the words out loud like a battle cry—like a battle charge with my sword raised high! Sometimes words come from deeper places than soul wounds and they rise up like magma from the depths, burning a channel to the crest and spewing out power to burn back, to talk back, to take back ground claimed by Christ Himself. Jesus charges and I with Him.
I WILL for God’s WILL! And I will do what God calls me to do, though His call is different from what I know, though His call is frightening, though I have NO guarantee of outcome in human relationship, though the rubble feels impossible to move . . .
I will follow you Jesus! I will take your words and on them my heart will feed and I will believe and—with your help—and I will be your WOMAN WARRIOR! I will battle against the dark forces in the spiritual realms who tell me I’m nothing—I’m small—I’m weak—I’m a child. DAVID was a child! And HE had the Almighty guiding Him! And He stood up to a giant when everyone else cowered. Because—the battle—was—YOURS!
The battle IS Yours!
I said to God, in those dark and undetermined days . . .
Come what may, I will follow you all the way . . .
I said it in my twenties.
I said it in my thirties.
And my forties.
And my fifties.
Come what may . . .
I will follow . . .
You, Jesus . . .
Because when one has nothing else?
One is ready to see God.
And when one sees? When one really sees God?
Nothing is ever the same again. Ever.
No one is ever the same again. Ever.
Because when we really see God, we experience True Love.
So I set out to see Mom as God sees Mom, to love Mom as God loves Mom. And such vision, such love, changed me. Such vision, such love healed me. Such vision, such love created the mother-daughter relationship I never thought possible. When one sees through the lens of love, veil over soul lifts, focus becomes clear, and the view is stunning.
Join me tomorrow for Mothering Mother, Part 4? We heading straight toward Independence Day! And Independence Day comes straight through dependence on the Dependable!!