I was once sent a greeting card by a friend. On the front of the card was a woman looking into a mirror, aghast at her reflection. The caption read: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all!” The card elicits a chuckle because it’s true: Not every woman has a great relationship with her mother. Even those who have a positive mom experience have points of disagreement at times.
Ideally, women who follow Christ should be better at the mother-daughter relationship. This isn’t always the case. But here’s the good news: Jesus Christ is sovereign over every human relationship, including the one you have with your mom. He can heal the hurt, repair the damage and sustain you in the slow process of building trust (or setting up boundaries).
If you’re ready to begin that process, keep the following truths in mind as you do.
You are not responsible for your mom’s insecurities.
We tend to view our moms as entities unto themselves, neither girl nor woman, neither stranger nor friend. She’s just…Mom. The first step to a better relationship is to humanize your mom’s experience: to acknowledge the personal past, struggles and personality traits that make her uniquely individual. As you recognize the things that make your mom act the way she does, you’ll be more compassionate as you interact with her.
That said, you are not responsible for your mom’s past or insecurities. There is a difference between having compassion and being enabling. You can’t fix your mom; only Jesus can do that. She must learn to address her spiritual and emotional issues through Christ—not through you. The best thing you can do for her is to continually point her to Jesus. He is the only one who can carry the burdens of her anxiety, guilt and pain.
You are responsible to honor God in your mother-daughter relationship.
You might be good at setting the boundaries necessary in your mom-daughter relationship. Perhaps you are so good at setting boundaries, you’ve lost your love in the process! As difficult as some mother-daughter relationships can be, you are still responsible to honor God.
There will be times you don’t want to be respectful or kind to your mom. In those moments you have to do the right thing for God’s sake, if nothing else. Sometimes the only way we find the strength to honor people is by doing it for the Lord, not for them. Since God has commanded us to love others, honoring Him means choosing love. That’s not always an easy task.
Sometimes love is an act of the will.
Matt Papa once said: “Worship, like love, is mostly a choice that leads to a feeling, not a feeling that leads to a choice.” At first, loving your mom might be a choice more than a feeling. Depending on her walk with the Lord, it could take a while before she recognizes what you’re doing.
There will be times you choose love when you feel nothing but anger. There will be times you choose love when you want to resurrect old hurts. It is in these moments you must put God first as your Defender, Comforter and good Father. Your mom is only human; your God is sovereign.
As you make Christ the source of your fulfillment and support, you’ll become increasingly conscious of your mom’s need for Him as well. This will help you reflect the love of God into her life even more. What she does with that is up to her. But as far as you are concerned, you’ll be doing what you can to bring the gospel to the relationship.
Lastly, pray for healing. Ask God to help your mom see where your relationship could improve. Ask Him to free her from insecurity, judgment, criticism and anger. Then walk in the Spirit and shine your light.