When I was eighteen and had just finished my second year of college, I assumed the summer would be filled with normal summer activities. I was a rebellious teen and very headstrong. I didn’t like it at the university I had been attending; it was in the middle of a cornfield, and boring for someone who was used to the big city life of Chicago. My alternative plan was to live at home and go to a university nearby in the fall.
This plan was unveiled to my mother when I got home for the summer. She was upset that I had decided to go down a different path than what she had set out and expected. My mother said I would not be allowed to stay at home–which was communicated by the police, who also informed me that I had a week to “vacate the premises.” To say I was scared is an understatement. I only had a part-time job. Thoughts of “How am I going to survive? Am I going to be a homeless person on Lower Wacker Drive?” consumed me. Anger also consumed me when thinking how the situation had escalated to that level without any communication from my mother.
I did leave and made a way for myself. Decades have passed without us seeing or talking with each other. But when I became a Christian, things began changing in me. I recently invited her to join us for Thanksgiving dinner, and she accepted. We extended pleasantries, but were both walking on egg shells around each other.
Lord over all relationships
Christ is Lord over my mom’s sin against me and the sin done by me. He created both of our hearts, so I can trust that he will open them to restore harmony. I can rely on him to give me the opportunity to step through that door of reconciliation.
I can’t assume to know what’s in my mom’s heart. Only God alone knows and can read our hearts. Because Christ is Lord, there is no need for me to take justice into my hands as that’s his job (Romans 12:17-21). My trust is with Him. He is Lord over this reconciliation process. In his great wisdom, he knows whether it is going to happen or not.
Fear of rejection
In this situation, sinful fear is one of the biggest sins I struggle with: the fear of my mother rejecting me again. God calls me to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength–and to love my neighbor as myself (Luke 10:27). But my fear is tempting me to not follow God’s lead in regards to taking certain actions in reconciling and to not fully engage with my mother. I’m tempted to follow my fear rather than the Lord. But He tells me not to fear (Psalm 27:10). There is no need to be afraid because the Lord is always with me.
I am also tempted to judge my mom on her actions and over-analyze what she says, looking for hidden meaning behind her words. It is tempting to think, “Okay, we’ve been through this before, so why should I waste my time anymore?” This temptation could lead me to give up on the reconciliation process, but I know that when one comes to Christ, your heart changes. God could be changing my mother’s heart just as He is changing mine.
The Savior’s love and grace
Christ too was tempted to fear, and being falsely judged and accused was something he experienced (John 1:11). He had everything in heaven. The world was his footstool. He was at the right hand of God, yet, he came down to earth only to experience the worst. He was poor, condemned, spat on, and ridiculed (Isaiah 53). I know he has experienced more than I can ever imagine. In the midst of all of these torments, he showed love and grace to those who abused him. He has also shown love and grace to me, by taking on my sins and dying for me.
Faith that forgives
This reminds me that, by faith, I can keep going because Jesus has been there before me. I can keep the steady path, though it is a slow process. My mom may not be ready yet. I am learning what walking by faith looks like, and can feel confident taking the opportunities He is presenting to me.
By faith, invitations can be accepted to family gatherings where my mother is included. The two of us being in the same room and not screaming was a huge step that first Thanksgiving. Sitting in the car for a few minutes before entering the home where my mom is, I can pray about potential confrontation, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide what I will say. I can confidently trust God to guide me through any confrontation. God will be with me. God will give me the right words to say. (Mark 13:11). I remind myself of the truths that I know: the Holy Spirit is in me; no matter what happens to me in this life, eternity will be with Him and His glory. (Colossians 1:11-14)
Even though the interactions with my mom may not always be pleasant, I know the unpleasantness won’t be there forever. Christ is changing me. My behaviors have changed since I became a Christian, and I have different desires than before. By faith, I’m forgiving my mom and taking steps toward reconciliation. 2 Timothy 3:16 reminds me that if I’m having problems dealing with all this, I can go back to God’s Word as God uses it to teach me, correct me and train me. For this I am thankful.