ONCE BROKEN BUT NOW RESTORED
Mommy wants to say sorry, for all the words I have said that have taken root in your heart all these years.
Mom and I shared a strained relationship throughout my growing-up years. It might have been because of the stress she faced as the sole breadwinner at home. She became easily angered over time and that resulted in many verbal wars.
“You’re a good-for-nothing!”
“You’re being cocky, just because you can work part-time and pay off your school fees and bills yourself!”
All I had wanted to do was to lighten the burden she had to shoulder.
Slowly, and unknowingly, those words crept into my heart and took root. The littlest of things would remind me of the hurtful words Mom used on me and I would break down from the battle within me which I could find no words to describe.
Since young, I had always sought to be the apple of my parents’ eyes, the biggest pride in their hearts. Yet never once had I received such affirmation from them. Instead, I was often reprimanded of being “cocky”, “useless” and “good-for-nothing”. As I grew up, these were the words that shaped me, influencing my perception of everything in life – of myself, of the romantic relationship that I may one day have, of the relationships I share with people around me and of my dreams and aspirations. Those words affected me more than I expected.
My 23rd birthday last October had got to be the toughest celebration yet. Just a week before my birthday, my parents had a heated argument in the living room. I was in my own room but was somehow brought into their argument. That was when I heard Mom say, “I wish she never existed.”
Having been a believer for some time, I knew the right thing for me to do was to filter out these words that were causing me hurt. I tried but I couldn’t. Each time those words replayed in my mind, tears welled up in my eyes. It was not the first time I have heard things like this, but even after all these years, those words still stung.
I sat through celebrations after celebrations for my birthday, thinking, “Why is it that that my mother, who gave birth to me, want to deny my existence while these people would choose to make time and effort to celebrate my birth, or rather my ‘insignificant existence’? Why?” That birthday, I was wrecked.
I cried to God, wondering why my prayers seemed unanswered, wondering when I could stop crying. Then, my friend reminded me of the young widow in Luke 7:11-17. The widow was crying for the loss of her son and when Jesus saw her, “his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” That was when I remembered that while many prayers may seem unanswered, my tears never go unnoticed. Even though I cried a lot, I knew God is still with me and He will always remain faithful.
One month later, I was doing work in the living room. Mom came up to me all of a sudden and asked if she could speak with me.
“Mommy wants to say sorry, for all the words I have said that have taken root in your heart all these years.”
I was genuinely surprised when I heard that.
“God had spoken and revealed Himself to me. I want to obey Him.”
As Mom continued to share that it was God who prompted her to find the right time to apologise to me for the mistakes she made, I knew it was all part of His divine plan.
She went on to explain that she had let emotions get the better of her as the responsibility to take care of the family weighed upon her shoulders. When she apologised for specific incidents where I had felt hurt by her, I was deeply moved. I had always thought she did not remember what she had done, but she did.
For the first time in a very long while, I let her hold me and we sobbed together. For the first time in my life, I heard her say, “I loved you and have always loved you. I am proud of you and of how you have put yourself through University.”
That day, we asked for each other’s forgiveness and peace came upon my heart, finally. Till today, I cannot even begin describing the feeling. It is as if I have finally shaken off a sharp rock that got stuck in my shoe for the past few years.
Mom and I still bicker occasionally now but undeniably, things have improved. She is more mindful of the words that she uses, especially when she is angry. For me, I am more aware of the fact that both of us are “works-in-progress” in Christ. As He refines our hearts individually before we can love and show grace to each other, it will take time and God’s continual leading to fully restore this relationship that has been broken for years.
I never thought that my relationship with Mom would ever be restored but our Heavenly Father made it happen. Praise God!
Editor’s note: God did not stop at restoring just the relationship between Joan and her mother. He is doing a restorative work between Joan’s mother and her own parents, with whom her relationship has been sour as well. Jesus’ heart to reconcile families and mend broken relationships is indeed praise-worthy. Hallelujah!