Yesterday was 12 years since my momma passed away at the young age of 57. I wanted to write all day yesterday but instead I allowed myself to remember and feel things I’ve never allowed before. I feel a lot of things when it comes to my momma but I just try not to focus on it for too long…cause it simply sucks and it hurts deeply. Interestingly enough, FOCUS is my word for 2020. So, yesterday, I chose to FOCUS and FEEL the pain, not only of my momma’s death but also her life…our life and our relationship.
I invited Jesus into those spaces with me because I knew, if I didn’t, the rabbit trail would look something like this…
“You were the worst daughter ever! You never took the time to REALLY get to know her. If you had, maybe she wouldn’t have been so sad and lonely. Maybe she wouldn’t have felt the need to drink. YOU were the reason she drank her bourbon of choice because YOU introduced it to her. What daughter does that to her mother? She knew you judged her for her lifestyle and you stayed away from her. You even kept her granddaughters from her. Well, not totally. You would allow her to see them IF she met you on your turf. What is wrong with you? You spent so much time resenting her for not meeting your expectations, you couldn’t see anything past your own desires. WOW, you are so self-absorbed…and now she’s dead. Happy now?”
You can see why thinking about my mom is so painful. There is SOME truth mixed in there but most of it is lies. Lies to condemn me and to steal my life away from me and my family.
So I invite Jesus in now so He can show me truth.
When my mom died…I was still a baby Christian and had only been clean and sober for about four years. I had yet to deal with my own brokenness and to understand that other people were broken too. That’s why we can act so hurtful to one another. It’s because we hurt and frankly we are scared to be vulnerable and possibly add to that hurt. As I grew and learned more about brokenness, shame, depression and anxiety, fear, rejection, addiction, etc. I began to understand my mother more and more and a compassion for her grew in my heart. But I then grew to become so angry at myself, because I would hear this narrative…
“You should have known this about yourself and your mom. It would have made such a difference in her life and yours. You would have had your dream come true relationship with your mom if only you had known. If only you had that compassion for her while she was alive but now she’s dead. Happy now?”
The enemy is so mean, isn’t he? But I listened to his lies and frankly I was tormented up until probably this last year or two.
The truth is that we don’t know what we don’t know. Sounds elementary doesn’t it? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to know everything? We are not God so everybody just calm down. I felt like it was my fault that I didn’t know. How can you be held responsible for something that you didn’t know? It would be like getting a job as a cashier at Target and expecting yourself to just start using the register and checking people out with no training at all. That’s silly.
Do I wish I had known better? Of course! But there are still things that would not have changed and there also would have been healthy boundaries put in place because we were just different and thought differently. What makes me sad is that we never communicated very nicely and that is something I could have done. That’s hard to do when you walk around feeling defensive around someone all the time. I never felt like she approved of me and she never felt like I approved of her. Disaster recipe right there.
I think it is okay and important to feel pain over these things but we have to invite Jesus in to these painful places to help us heal and grow and transform our hearts. I have grown tremendously in my desire, compassion and wisdom (in Christ) to help women struggle well through the disappointments in life.
My mom grew up in a home with eight siblings. Her father was an alcoholic for many years and, after becoming sober, he died of a massive heart attack. Their home was also an abusive home, physical abuse not only to the children but also to their mother. That tells you a lot about the communication skills that were developed in that family. There was much family discord that even I knew of as a young child that had to do with religion. And, unfortunately, there were many people who did things to my mother, when she was a child and when she was an adult, that should not have happened to her. Some of those things were done to her by people she loved and was supposed to be able to trust. I wouldn’t feel right putting those things on paper BUT it helps me understand so much more about why we didn’t communicate well, why she may have been so harsh with me at times, why she was controlling and why she sought out ways to escape the pain she felt and never seemed to be able to work through them.
My momma cried a lot. And I couldn’t fix it so I got angry with her and disassociated myself from her because I didn’t want to end up like her. I know now that was an irrational fear. What my momma needed, like I have needed so much of in my own life, is someone to pull her close and love her right where she was at. Not try to fix her but in the right moments pointing her to the only One who can…My sweet Jesus.
I cried yesterday and, frankly, I cry a lot. (so much for not being like my momma!) I have deep hurts and deep pain…sometimes it actually feels physical. But I am no longer afraid cause I know Jesus is with me in it. He says He draws near to the brokenhearted. I am looking forward to the healing that only Jesus can bring.
Well-intended people ask me sometimes…”why don’t you leave it alone, move on, it’s in your past?”
We were made to be in relationship with God and with others. In order to be in healthy relationships, you have to face your pain and let God heal it and give you a new perspective and let that pain move you close to Him as He moves you out towards other people who needs the same thing. If you remain afraid to look at your past and your pain, you will never have a clear filter on life and relationships. Not facing my pain and past has also affected my relationship and how I have viewed God. This must not be! He is our Ultimate Healer and Comforter. His LOVE is better than life. I want people to know Him and one way they will want to know Him is seeing how you walk out your life—especially during challenging seasons.
Is it easy? Nope! But worth it? Yep!
Think about it. God sent His only Son to die for us (and resurrect) so that we could have a new life in Christ BY FAITH. If you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit living in you, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! We are to be His hands and feet while here on earth but the enemy tries to keep us so twisted up and he is nonstop in the area of lies. He is a master at twisting truth and telling lies.
We do NOT have to believe the lies. We MUST believe God and what He says even when your FEELINGS don’t want to…that’s why it is BY FAITH…NOT by feelings. Get me?
So, I crack up a little because I was thinking of a person who might read the above paragraph and think…WOW! she really has got it together. OK…now I’m cracking up a lot! Let me be clear…
I DON’T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER but JESUS DOES! I fail in something at least every day but JESUS NEVER DOES.
So back to my precious momma…as sad as it is to not have her anymore, I believe she is with Jesus and her life is no longer such a struggle. Yes, I have regrets and wish I had done some things differently and had a better attitude but maybe this will inspire you (like me) to be better stewards of who God has placed in your life today. Maybe listen to their story. Ask God to show you why someone might be acting a certain way or to show you why you are acting a certain way. We are in this FOREVER TOGETHER. We don’t have to wait for Heaven to make things good and right here on earth.
Things will never be perfect here on earth but things could be so much better if we turned our eyes upon Jesus and believed what He says.
I found the journal I wrote in when my momma died. I wrote a list of things I loved about her or things I remembered that brought me joy…I will share some of these things with you…
- I loved it when her hair was wet and she didn’t have any makeup on. I thought she was the most herself and beautiful like that
- Her skin was so soft
- Her nails were beautiful—always so long and she kept them painted
- She wore a ring on almost every finger and rocked that look
- During Christmas season, she would always randomly break out into “Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock…” and THAT SONG would stay stuck in my head all day long
- She took me to church when I was 10 or 11 and I accepted Jesus as my Savior.
- She was my biggest cheerleader at the state spelling bee where I misspelled my first word (officer) which I spelled O-F-F-I-C-I-E-R. I was humiliated because I caught it right away and it was too late! Ugh. I was so nervous.
- At my graduation, she ran all over the place taking pictures. I was so embarrassed but secretly glad that she was so proud of me that I was picture-worthy!
- My momma was strong.
- She made the best deer steaks, deviled eggs, potato salad and coleslaw
- She taught me the tip to put lotion on a wet rag after getting out of the shower and drying your body that way to moisturize faster!
- She loved pork rinds and cashews but hated even the smell of cantaloupe
- Momma was crazy about hummingbirds. She had many hummingbird feeders.
- She grew a beautiful veggie garden every year when we were little
- She always made me a chocolate cake for my birthday
- I loved making her laugh. I could do it all day. Those were good days.
- I miss her so much and I love her forever
Momma…I know you love me too.