Updating You RE: My Issues

First, all of your comments and emails helped me in some way. Whether you wrote to encourage me to keep my focus on Christ, to tell me that you would pray, or to offer some advice, I appreciated them all and took them to heart. Thank you for taking the time to send me a message or to leave a comment.

I must confess that my biggest spiritual challenge came when, as I thought through my relationship with my mother, I realized I was feeling bitter. I have a very long mental list of grievances for which she has never apologized. Am I obligated to forgive her when she never indicates that she is remorseful over her actions?

My thinking about forgiveness is changing the more I think about it, but that’s a post for another day.

After much thinking and prayer, it seemed good to me to offer Mom an alternative (read this post if you need the backstory). Not only did I simply not want to visit Mom’s church, our kids enjoy our church’s Sunday night activities. They will be singing for the church next Sunday, so it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to miss a rehearsal.

I called Mom and explained that it would be best for us to attend our church on Sunday night. I didn’t take up the issues I have with her church that would keep us from attending. I offered a Saturday afternoon visit and she seemed satisfied with my suggestion.

Our visit was okay. It had its tense moments and its good moments. For example, she invited us in and I had to refuse because she is a smoker and two of my children are asthmatics. My children, sweet things, insisted on going inside because, “WE’VE NEVER BEEN INSIDE NANNY’S HOUSE!” That was a bit awkward. (My children have never visited my mother’s home; she has always come to our house).

It irked me quite a bit because, on the way to her house, I had explained to them that “Nanny” would probably want them to go inside her house, that she’s a smoker, and that I’d rather we all stay outside. So, when she asks, just don’t say anything and let me handle it.

See how they obey?

Mom insisted. I refused. Mom insisted. Kids begged. I refused. Mom insisted. “I have gifts for the kids,” she whined. I agreed to go inside to retrieve the gifts, but the kids had to stay outside.

Knowing we would have spend our visit outside, I planned an outdoor activity to keep the kids occupied. I brought along some bags and a nature scavenger hunt (Thanks, Alicia!). The kids had a great time searching for the items on the list, Mom had fun watching them, and I made my best efforts at jovial small talk.

As we were trying to leave, she remembered another reason for the kids to go inside. She explained that she had a bunch of stuffed animals and wanted the kids to choose one. Then, she wanted the girls to try on some clothes she had for them. We all went inside. Breathing was very difficult! My kids made the fastest stuffed animal decisions in the history of “Kids, Choose Your Favorite Stuffed Animal Out of 30” ever! We took the clothes and promised to try them on.

At this point, frustrated and a bit miffed that Mom ignored my desire to stay outside, I was thinking it may have been easier to just go to church with her.

The worst part came when Mom whispered to me that Hannah had made a comment to her about how her house smelled like fire and, in response, Mom told Hannah that it smelled that way because she accidentally started a small kitchen fire not too long ago. It was a blatant lie, and Mom wanted me to know her story so that her grandchildren wouldn’t judge her for smoking.

It just reminded me of so many secrets my brother and I were asked to keep when we were growing up. Mom repeatedly said to us, “What happens in our house, stays in our house,” or some variation of the sentiment.

It’s too late for that, though. My kids had already asked so many times before why “Nanny” smells the way she does. They know she smokes cigarettes. I just hope that Hannah saw Mom’s excuse for what it was and that she doesn’t doubt me.

Now for the best part. On one of the old trees in Mom’s yard grows a fern that looks dead and shriveled until it’s watered. When we arrived, Mom gave it a good watering with the hose. By the time our visit ended, the fern stood out from the tree trunk and turned a lush green color. It’s called a Resurrection Fern.

Mom had not shown it to me before, and the significance of her showing it to me on this visit was not lost. I wondered at it for a few moments, allowing God to minister to my heart and remind me of the gospel. Rather than leaving discouraged, I said goodbye to Mom with my heart full of peace regarding the decision to visit and my mind in awe of the goodness of God.

13 Comments on “Updating You RE: My Issues

  1. Thank God for the resurrection fern to symbolize His goodness to you in a difficult situation! I sympathize with you over this hurtful relationship. Unfortunately, I had the bitter gall of having to explain to my children last night (due to their question as to why their dad and I got a divorce) that it began with a great deal of bitterness that I had stored up over the years toward their dad, nursing unforgiveness, which eventually resulted in a devastating end. Bitterness is so deceptive sometimes and I can appreciate and relate to your discovery of it and desire to have it gone.


  2. The Lord is so faithful in His teachings…even through the beauty of His creation. That must have been difficult for you to share but I’m so glad you did. It really touched me.


  3. I’m so glad that you were able to leave with a heart full of peace, Leslie! God always gives us just what we need just when we need it, doesn’t he!Oh, and I love your new layout, especially the banner!


  4. Although the visit didn’t go perfectly, I am very glad that you still walked away from it peacefully. And don’t worry about your kids. We knew that my one grandmother was a great embellisher of truth (and often just an outright liar)and always took what she said with a grain of salt. Of course, it drove my mother nuts (to put it mildly), but we took it in stride. She was not a believer and we didn’t expect better.


  5. It can be so hard sometimes to not feel bitter. I have to admit, I struggle with it too, in my life. Let us pray that God will soften our hearts to allow us to forgive. I read this book with my kids by Bob Schultz. It said that if someone is unkind to you or does something rude, we should be thankful because it gives us a chance to show mercy to that person. Oh how hard that is! Help us, Lord!


  6. I have a question…how do you get away writing this stuff online?? Does your family not know about your blog? I am just curious, because I have wanted to share the issues I have with my mom, in hopes of finding someone who can relate, but can’t because she might read it.Anyways, I totally understand your relationship with her, well, I think I do. My relationship with my mom is full of lies and manipulation, and she is so unaware, just like your mom playing ignorant, and insisting they come in your house!! My mom plays ignorant when she is trying to get my kids to come around the man in our family who we have chosen not to let my kids have a relationship with because of his past. Won’t go into details, but it’s a bad situation!! My husband and I have set very definite boundaries to protect my kids from the stuff I was continually exposed to as a child. I think that is where you are going with your comment on forgiveness. Forgiveness means letting go of the resentment and the desire to avenge, but it does not mean continually being a doormat. Thanks for sharing.


  7. My relationship with my parents is far from perfect, but I can’t imagine dealing with stuff like that on a regular basis. I think you made a wise decision. Keep trusting the Lord and don’t give up on her. I will pray for her.


  8. I’m amazed of God’s kindness w/ the Resurrection Fern!!! Praise Him! Thank you for sharing, Leslie!!! It makes me so sad that your relationship w/ your mom is so difficult. But so thankful that the Lord redeeming love shines through even in the difficulty!


  9. Your situation is difficult. I know there are countless readers who can attest to similar situations with their family. Not only does your testimony serve to encourage but it also gives glory to God! Seeing Him work in the big and small ways of our everyday life is a beautiful thing.Blessings.


  10. I look forward to your thoughts on forgiveness. There are things to this day that my mom won’t admit too. I can’t remember when it actually happened but I had to let it go. It was eating at me and seemed to have no effect on her at all. I wanted to hear her acknowledge that she was wrong…. Never happened. When I confronted her I got the nobodies perfect speech and that I was being judgemental. We aren’t just talking about her loosing her temper a few times either.In order to be at peace myself and not let what she had done eat me alive I had to let her live in her denial and try to love her anyway. Trust me there are clear boundaries…and now I don’t live close to her so that is helpful with having kids…your situation is different in that way and more challenging. Somehow over time our relationship has moved past the place that I need her to do or be something for me. I had to accept that I won’t ever have a mother who will put me first or not be more the child them the adult. It’s hard to embrace that. At almost 40 I can struggle with feeling alone in the world regarding family but have to trust God’s kind sovereignty though I so wish it were different.


  11. Long story short? My husband asked me the other day:”Do you think you’re ready to be finished with this relationship?” (with my mother.)I think so. I just need to make sure that, according to my beliefs, I “honor my mother.” I’ve come to realize that requires boundaries (like Mrs. “m” said) and I’m working on them. My mother is very, very sick right now and will probably undergo a triple bypass and a valve replacement within the next few weeks. For me, boundaries mean that I don’t necessarily have to leave my family and go take care of her, I just need to make sure she is taken care of. I realize she may die. I will probably be sad. But my restoration has nothing to do with her, so there’s nothing to talk about or resolve between the two of us. I no longer expect or hope she will recognize or regret her actions and choices. She will never apologize and she became viscously angry when I tried to talk to her about some things which had hurt me. It was when she attempted to use my child as a weapon when I realized. She can’t have any more of me. My resources are better used in caring for my kids, husband, family and friends. Like Mindy, I struggle with writing too much online. I don’t mention my blog to my mother, but someday she may Google me and that’s all it would take. When I do write about my relationship with her and her impact on my family life, I am very careful. A lot has been happening and I haven’t shared it on my blog, but you’ve prompted me by providing this safe place to think via the keyboard. I’ll be drafting over the next few days. I also have a Thursday quote on forgiveness that I’ll use for this week’s “therefore I quote” post. I hope you’ll stop by on Thursday.Thoughts and prayers are with you as you work through the bitterness you struggle with. It is a difficult, long road.


  12. I do not think it is an accident that you shared what you did, and that I checked your blog after a long absence to find this post, and the responses from other readers!Thank you for lisening to the spirit of God!


  13. Listen we have SO been there with my husband’s mom (even the smoker with a child who suffered from occasional asthmatic wheezing). Long story short, she has not only given up the smoking but is now living for the Lord. Of course, we still have issues (who doesn’t), but the Lord is faithful even when we think (as we did) that THERE IS NO WAY…


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