October 24, 2016

Dear Esther,

Thank you for giving this a listening ear and being there to help. I am having a hard time with the relationship between my mother and myself. Growing up, there was a lot of strife and conflict with verbal fights between us. It was dysfunctional and a lot of hurtful things were said on both ends (no father in the picture as she was single).

To her credit, she worked hard and ensured all our needs were met as well as some wants. She is also very giving and caring to others, always rushing to someone’s aid. I also have memories of the good times we had, in between the fighting and despair.

Now I am married and a mother of two. I left my hometown and created a lot of distance between us in the hope that I would heal and start my life afresh. I also hoped being away would improve our relationship as we were not sharing the same living space. This was not to be.

Every time we talk or stay in touch there is always some form of strife. I admit to having had resentment to some of the things she did in the past but after a lot of therapy and prayer I have let it go. However, I have a fear of her ruining my present happy life just to see me miserable.

I have asked God to remove this fear. I think it stems from how over-controlling my mother was even into my adult years, always trying to micro-manage every aspect of my life. She is a born-again Christian and raised me to follow God so I don’t understand why we have this strife between us. She says she loves me and I believe her.

In our previous mediations with a neutral party we have both repented and asked each other for forgiveness. But it’s like we can’t have a mother-daughter relationship that is desired. I feel, that when other people say, “Honor your father and mother” in reference to one of the commandments, they have not walked in my shoes and just expect me to roll over and let her have her way. What about: “Parents do not provoke your children?”

I am not trying to justify my actions or deflect fault. My question is this: Should I take a lengthy break from her with no communication so that I can heal from this? I also don’t want to talk anymore because it always leads to a fight, which is not good for either of us. My husband also thinks I should distance myself because he hates to see me hurt, and crying over this.

What is the right way to honor her as God commands? I know she is lonely, as my brother for unknown reasons has estranged himself from us for years. She misses her grand kids and I know it would make her happy to see them and hear about their development.

I live in a different country and last year when we visited it did not go well. There was a fight and also some untrue rumors that had reached my grandmother about me. The source of it was my mother because she is the only one who knew the details of the situation, but what was told to my grandmother was twisted and over stretched.

We had an intervention with other family members where we prayed and tried to talk this out for the last time. I think we reached a mutual forgiveness point but reconciliation was not instant. This is reflected in the strained phone conversations we have had and my refusing to accept her calls and text messages in the last two-months.

I honestly want to just cut-off my mom but I do not know if it is the right decision in God’s sight. I want to please God most of all. I also need to focus on my 3-year-old and my newborn. This turmoil drains my energy. My husband also wants me to stop dwelling on this situation and just walk away from it all together.

How do I please God if it’s still difficult to get along with my mother? I love her and I truly forgive her in my heart of hearts. How can two born-again Christians not get along? I also don’t want to be left behind because of this issue. I am born-again and believe in Jesus.

Thank you.

Sherry

Dear Sherry,

Sometimes in life when we need or want to make a decision about something, whichever way we choose, neither solution may be ideal. The long history of contention and strife you have had with your mother certainly is a difficult one.

From reading your letter and carefully thinking and praying about your situation, it sounds like you really want to be free of this seemingly never-ending friction with your mom. Boundaries are something we should always respect with one another but some people (most often family members) seem to ignore this simple courtesy.

You can honor your mother by not getting caught-up in any more unpleasant verbal exchanges with her. I would not just cut her off cold. I suggest writing her a loving letter, a snail mail letter, not an email. Try to explain to her that you truly love her but the time has come in your life where you need all your energy to raise your two very young children.

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

Tell her that you don’t blame her or hold any animosity toward her and that you are sincerely sorry for the part you have played in all of this, but that you simply cannot continue to participate in a situation where there is so much conflict.

Since nothing productive seems to come out of your interactions together you have made a decision to continue on with your life without the telephone, texting, and emailing aspect of your communication. This way what you are doing is clearly stated in writing and cannot be convoluted.

This is not to punish her or hurt her, but it is matter of self-preservation so you can function properly and take care of your children. Tell her you cannot go on in a state of distress because of an unpleasant phone conversation, etc.

For whatever reason the two of you are just not on the same wavelength and the best thing to do is to love each other from a distance through occasional letters via the traditional mail services.

You can send her pictures of the children as they grow, in fact, make some photo albums for her and mail them to her occasionally, a couple of times a year. You can send her nice greeting cards now and then. In this way you would still be honoring her but not allowing the same old negative dynamics to take over.

If she does not like the decision you’ve made, then simply tell her that you are sorry but this is how it has to be so you can function. The verbal arguments, and all the other undercurrent problems have taken a toll on you and you really have no other choice in the matter.

You have a great responsibility to your husband and the children and cannot handle any more stress. You can also point out that these chronic negative interactions are not good for her either.

You can probably expect her to get angry once she reads your letter. If she writes back with an upsetting letter, please contact me and I will work through it with you. I do understand, and I am sure many of the readers do as well—that even the slightest communication from a dysfunctional loved one can be like driving a stake into one’s heart.

So for now, take it one-step at a time. Write the letter, put a couple of recent pictures of your kids into the envelope and mail it. If she calls or texts you, you can ignore it because you have already stated your case. Then if she writes back, let’s see what she says or if she makes any demands.

Remember this is your first step to taking back your life, so you will have to be a bit patient. But once you state your case, you should stick with your decision or else you might get wrangled back into the same negative interplay.

No doubt, your mom did everything she could to provide for you, and for that you are grateful. But that was her responsibility. As time goes on in the future you can always do some nice things for her, but I would proceed with caution. Right now, you must make peace with yourself that you are not doing this to be unkind to her, but you are doing it so you can be a responsible parent and carry on.

The Lord knows every last detail of our lives, better than we know them ourselves. Go before Him and ask for His blessing and healing. Confess your part in the problems and ask Him to help your mother realize that she, too, has created this separation, which may need to continue for a very long time.

When you find yourself getting upset and feeling angry toward her for any of the injustices in your relationship, remember what Jesus said on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

On some level your mom is in a way handicapped to get past her “stuff”─whatever it is. Being a single mom must have been very hard for her. Always think of her with compassion and any angry feelings you might have will dissipate. And for you, growing up without a father has complex issues.

You can please God by kindly making the case to your mother about how this lifelong drama must end and that you are not harboring any hatred or anger toward her. You are not going to be left behind in the Rapture over this. You are truly sorry and repentant, but that does not mean you have to open yourself up as an object of verbal bantering.

Sherry, please focus on the blessings the Lord has given you: Two beautiful children, a good husband and a life that is away from the close proximity to your mom. The distance didn’t help because the communication continued as it did. Now, you can take a step to change all of that.

Start with the letter. If she sends back an angry reply, then you may have to take a stronger step and cut-off the communication completely. But we won’t think about that quite, yet. I think you will feel better if you take this one step first before entertaining the idea of totally cutting her out of your life and that of you children for a very lengthy time.

As far as being a born-again believer and not getting along, that does sound like an oxymoron. But believe me, it happens all the time. Pride is a relentless foe and rears its ugly head even amongst many professing Christians. And only God knows if a person is truly saved.

When we are walking in the flesh we are living life giving into temptations leading to a life spattered with sin (which includes habitual verbal abuse). When we walk in the Spirit we live our lives in a way that reflects the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within all true believers.

We should always be conscious of how we are behaving and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We should always try our best to be a good witness for Christ to others.

A lot of people profess to be born-again Christians, yet I am continuously amazed at how many of these people are going through life as if they never made a sincere profession of faith.

Many are spiritual infants who are in desperate need of repentance and re-evaluation of their proclamations of faith. I think some people will be surprised at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The motives for everything a believer does for the Lord will be judged. Some will lose their rewards because their motives for serving the Lord are insincere and self-serving (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Some professing Christians are not really saved. They are Christians in name only and will have to face the Lord at the Great White Throne judgment along with the rest of the unsaved. God is not mocked and all those who are parading around professing Christ, but blatantly defying His principles showing no good fruit whatsoever are in great jeopardy. God knows the heart intent of each person. He is merciful and just.

Since you are truly repentant and have given your life to the Lord, I urge you to grow deeper in your faith and search the Scriptures daily and be sure to have a good prayer life where you communicate with the Lord often, each day.

The stronger your prayer life becomes and the more you absorb the Scriptures, the less the cares of the world will affect you. You will be able to move on and not get caught-up in the minutia of this life, which includes chronic family problems.

I also recommend reading two articles that we have from the FAQ section on Rapture Ready. The first is: “Why is strife a sin?” The second is titled, “How important are the words we speak?”

http://raptureready.com/faq/faq635.html

http://raptureready.com/faq/faq631.html

Please keep in touch and know that I am praying with you. It is going to be all right, Sherry. We serve a great and mighty God who cares very much about you and all His children. Please give this entire matter over to Him and let’s pray that a wonderful result will yet come out of all of this.

God bless you!

Esther

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).