Some years ago I realized I was holding unforgiveness against my mother. Her sin? Failing to call me by my name and see me as an individual, separate from her.
Most of the time she’d call me by my younger sister’s name. This bothered me, even though I also do it to my children. A few hours before she died, I said to her, “I love you, mom.” Her only response was: “I love all of you children.” I held these offenses against her for years.
When the Lord finally opened my eyes, I forgave her. That very night I dreamed: Mom was lying dead in her bed. Suddenly she opened her eyes and looked straight at me. Her eyes fill with love as a tear ran down her cheek. Then she closed her eyes and was gone again.
I awoke feeling great joy—I was loved and seen by my mother. (from I Forgive You: How Heart-Based Forgiveness Sets You Free, Judith A. Doctor)
Called to bless othersAll of us are affected by the emotional support given or withheld by our families. We need their blessing. A blessing offers the message: “You are loved. You are wanted. You are precious. You are important.” But some parents are unable to give this blessing—perhaps they never received it themselves.
When we bless someone, we are honoring them through our acts or words. We may invoke a wish for their goodwill and happiness, God’s favor to be on them, or say something good about them that we are thankful for.
We can see this spiritual principle in the Bible: Moses tells Aaron to bless the sons of Israel. “You shall say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance on you and give you peace.’” (Numbers 6:24-25)
When Rebekah left home to become Isaac’s wife, her family gave her this blessing: “May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.” (Genesis 24:60)
Just before Isaac died, he blessed his son Jacob, saying, “May God give you the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine ….” (Genesis 27:28)
In the Gospels, we see Jesus blessing the children. We also see him blessing his disciples before He departed from them. In the Epistles, St. Peter instructs us to bless the people who hurt us: “Not return evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead …” Does this include our parents who may have failed us in many ways?
Honor our father and motherThe fifth commandment of Moses implies that life will go well for us in every area in which we honor our parents. This commandment is so significant that it is repeated twice in the New Testament, once by Jesus, then by St. Paul.
1) For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ (Matthew 15:4)
2) Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3).
Inner-healing pioneers John and Paula Sandford suggest that failure to honor our parents is at “the root of every marital problem, every child-raising dilemma, and every moral and immoral inclination.” Judgments we made as children against our parents can affect our future relationships. (The Transformation of the Inner Man)
Make peace with your motherIn 1994, I wrote in my journal: “There is something about a mother that stirs us deep inside. It reveals some of our deepest longings to be loved, accepted, cherished, knowing someone is there for us. But when she is not, we are hurt, confused, and angry.
“I see clearly how important ‘mothering’ is. Yet I see that she cannot be everything to us; she was never meant to be. She cannot be God for us.”
This Mother’s Day take the burden off your mother. Make peace with her. Accept her as she is. Forgive her for what she did or did not do. Thank her for giving you life. Consider what intangible gift your mother has given you. Then bless her by saying something good about her.
Judith Doctor, RN, MSW, is an Arcadian author, speaker, and spiritual life mentor. President of Kairos Ministries, Inc., her live broadcasts can be heard monthly on Radio Horeb in Europe. Her books on dreams and forgiveness are available on Amazon and other online booksellers. email@example.com.