During my mom’s early 40s, she found out she was pregnant with me. Her mind immediately went into overdrive: their finances were finally in place, my older sister was already 14, and this geriartic pregnancy would be difficult with her pre-existing heart problems. Most of my mom’s worries were academic related. She was very demanding towards my sister’s studies and thought her health would prevent her from pushing me to the same level. But my dad reassured her that I was a gift from God, and that He would provide.
Although I attended church with my family and knew the Gospel, by the time I was in high school, my relationship with my mom reached an all-time low. We fought constantly and were always miserable and stressed. My mom spent long hours tutoring me, making me feel that she was less a mother than she was a teacher to me.
One day, after a particularly horrible argument, my mom suffered from a mild stroke. Convinced that our fight caused it, my mom told our friends and family that I was the reason behind it.
I felt agonizing shame and guilt. I, too, was convinced that our fight led to her stroke. Yet, our arguments continued. Whenever we fought she threatened to have another stroke. I couldn’t tell God how sad and broken I felt because I didn’t feel deserving of God’s unconditional love. Gradually I stopped going to church and distanced myself from my fellowship.
During university, my mom loosened the reins on my studies and our relationship improved slightly. At the same time, my best friend from university invited me to a Bible study and to Sunday service. Slowly I started going back to church regularly. I opened up to my care group who listened to me with acceptance and grace and helped me process the hurts I had been carrying.
In turn, my communication with God improved significantly. In the past, when I was sad, it was difficult to talk to Him so I internalized my feelings. Now, I started to lift up my worries in prayer and ask for His guidance and comfort.
My guilt towards my relationship with my mom diminished as I focused on the truth of my identity: that I am forgiven and loved. Instead of dwelling in shame, I remembered how God sees me and how He can provide solace for me through prayer (Jeremiah 29.12).
One night, my mom and I had another argument, which ended with the same threat of another stroke. Again, the statement stunned me into silence. That night, I prayed to God, telling Him how exhausted I felt about the state of our relationship. I asked Him for wisdom to better communicate with her.
As I prayed, I felt more at peace, and I knew that He was comforting me. The next morning, I was able to speak calmly to her about the power of her words, how they have the ability to hurt me deeply. I told her I wanted us to be able to speak slowly and to listen to each other (James 1.19).
I was surprised when she accepted everything I said. She knew that I had been praying more, and was trying to be centered in God to change the way we were communicating. Since then, we still occasionally disagree, but it’s different now, our arguments are less emotionally charged.
From that day on, she hasn’t said that she will have another stroke if we fight. We are both more mindful of what we say to each other, and we intentionally carve out time to spend together. I am closer to her now than I have ever been. I tell her about my insecurities, fears, relationships – all topics I previously thought I would never share with her.
As I became grounded in God’s truth, I was reminded that I do not have to continue living in my guilt and shame, but am forgiven and loved by my Heavenly Father. I am thankful to God for redeeming me in His truth and restoring my relationship with my mother.
Taken on vacation when I was young.
My parents at my baptism earlier this year.
Class of 2020: My mom and I when I graduated.
I needed this. Thank you.