Imperfect moms exist. I know because I am one. When I was pregnant, my own mother informed me, “Don’t worry, you will mess up, often. That’s why we pray, God can fix anything.” Maybe I come from a line of imperfect mothers. Or, it could be I come from a line of well intentioned, purely human women. We mess things up, jump to conclusions, and sometimes lose our ever loving minds. However, the imperfect moms in my lineage are also fully aware of their imperfections. Apologies are given often, and hugs are given freely. But, mess up we do.
Betrayed by Mom
When she told her mom about the abuse happening to her, her mother did not believe her. Her mother should have protected her because that is what mothers do. Right? There was no protection for the young girl. No one intervened to stop the abuse happening night after night.
My mom told me things I had no business knowing. Her words were too heavy for me. I have always believed it was my responsibility to care for her, to ensure she did not break. Now that I am a mother, I see how wrong my thinking has been. It was her job to care for me, but she didn’t.
The stories go on. As I work with women, I hear their stories. One after one, I am told how so many mothers who refused to step into their role as mom. Far too many rejected the responsibility, or were determined to have all the attention on themselves. There are so many women who feel betrayed by their mothers.
Why Should We Forgive Mom?
Before we tackle how to forgive our mothers, we need to know why we should forgive them. Have you ever held on to unforgiveness? It is a bitter pill to swallow. When I have withheld forgiveness, my stress levels often soar, my anxiety rises, and my temper flares. I do not care for the negative feelings or thoughts so often tied to unforgiveness.
The Bible is clear on why we are to forgive others. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I know of my own sinful nature, and my need for Christ’s forgiveness. Therefore, forgiving others seems quite important.
Ephesians 4:31-32 states, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
By forgiving, we release ourselves from bitterness while also obeying what Christ has commanded.
How Do We Forgive?
There are more situations in need of forgiving mothers than I can fathom. My friend who was abused? She forgave her mom. The woman who was expected to be mature beyond her years? She also has forgiven her mom. May I let you in on something? Their moms did not necessarily ask for forgiveness. These women chose to forgive because they didn’t like the ill effects unforgiveness had in their lives, and because they wanted to be obedient to the Lord’s leading.
My friend, we all have a situation that will require us to forgive our mothers. Do not wait for an apology. The apology may or may not come. However, we can choose to forgive. One woman I know shouted, “I forgive you!” while standing on her back porch one evening. Another friend wrote a letter stating she forgave her mother, but kept the note tucked away in her nightstand. Still another spoke face to face with her mom. She spoke the words, “I forgive you,” knowing her mother may not even understand why those three words were so important.
Be Wise In Forgiving
Yes, I firmly believe forgiveness is necessary, and something we should practice daily (or by the minute). Forgiveness can lead to healed relationships. Reconciliation is beautiful and magnificent, but not always the case. There are some instances when forgiveness should be given, but clear boundaries need to be set in the relationship. If your mother is involved in toxic, abusive behaviors, it is in your best interest to set limits on your relationship. For your own protection, and the protection of your family, you may need distance in your relationship with your mother. Forgive, yes. Return to be abused? No.
Do not forget the importance of prayer. Are you struggling to forgive? Share it with our Father, and ask Him to soften your heart towards your mother. Do you find yourself in a cycle of forgiving then latching on to unforgiveness? Pray and ask God to show you how to forgive and surrender the situation.
A Final Word
Friends, I know some of you have deep wounds that have been inflicted by your mother. The idea of forgiving her may overwhelm you. However, I can promise you will begin to heal as you practice forgiveness. Changes will not happen overnight (though they may happen instantly), but I do know you will not walk in the fullness of God’s plan and purpose for you if you are holding on to unforgiveness. I want to see you walking in freedom. Your freedom begins in forgiving.