A Mother's Day Gift of A Different Kind

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How many of you reading this are parents? Probably most. How many of you had parents? I hear you chuckling.

Everyone has or had parents. That’s an unnecessary question.

Because everyone was born to a man and a woman due to the man’s sperm and the woman’s egg, everyone has parents.

Everyone.

Here’s another question: Are you a perfect person who never does wrong? Of course not, so who is to blame? We seek first to assign blame to our parents.

Everyone.

As you grew up and struggled with your “issues,” you and I looked at those things in ourselves that we did not like. We tried to make sense of the shortcomings that shamed us. When we saw the things in us that we hated, we tried to figure out why we did those things.

Most of us looked at our parents and concluded:

“I am the way I am because of my mom and/or dad. If they had raised me differently or if I had had different parents, I would not have these issues. If only I had grown up in a healthy and wealthy environment, I’d be a whole person."

Consider this story. A young adult male says to his buddy, "Hey, I had dinner last night with my mother."

"Oh yeah, great. How did it go?"

He said, “Well, I made a huge Freudian slip."

His friend asks, “What was the Freudian slip?"

“Well,” he answers, "we were eating dinner and I meant to say 'Mother, please pass me the butter,’ but instead I said, 'You witch! You've ruined my life!’"

I laughed hysterically when I heard this for the first time. That's not a Freudian slip--that's a young guy sitting on bitterness and resentment toward his mother because he sees many personal failings and issues in his own life.

His first way of facing his imperfections is by assigning blame to his mother. The fact that he’d lie about this being a Freudian slip proves he is deluded. He isn’t seeing reality.

His mom is not to blame; the real blame rests on him.

Oh sure, his mom may have been a bad mother, but the Bible reveals good children can come from bad parents.

Josiah became King at 8 years old, started serving the Lord at age 16 and reformed Israel over many decades. Yet, his father and grandfather were wicked.

In a similar way, bad kids come from good and godly parents.

The father of the prodigal was a replica of Abba Father, according to Jesus. Yet, he had this second-born son who indulged every conceivable sin and he had a self-righteous, angry and judgmental first-born son.

Children are moral and spiritual beings who ultimately make their own choices.

Yes, parents influence who they become, but they do not and cannot control the child's inner faith and values. Parents do not determine the final outcome in the kids. Children make that decision for themselves.

On the one hand, this is liberating for those of us with bad parents. We are free.

Yes, parents can physically damage us--like hitting us so hard they give us a concussion--but when it comes to our spiritual and moral fiber, they cannot coerce us into being evil people who curse God.

They cannot stop us from loving others and loving God. They cannot stop us from forgiving them. We are free.

Though we must struggle through their mistreatment, we can change for the better. If this is not true, then we are hopeless and helpless victims predestined to a life of misery given our parents are wicked.

On the other hand, this is convicting for those of us with bad, or even good, parents. We can tell ourselves,

“I am incapable of loving others because of my parents’ failure to love me as I wanted and needed to be loved. I am angry because of them. I lie because of them. I have envy and jealousy because of them. I drink because of them. I seek sex from others for intimacy because of them. I am a bad spouse, parent, worker and friend because of them."

On this Mother’s Day, if the truth were told, would you assign blame to your mom for the way you are?

As you have explored your imperfections and tried to figure out why you are the way you are, have you assigned blame to her?

I know this isn’t a pleasant Mother’s Day message at first glance, but honestly, the greatest gift you could give to your mother is to stop blaming her for the way you are and accept her as a person who is fallen in nature and who has made her own bad choices.

Though her mother affected her, her mother did not cause her to be the way she is any more than your mother caused you to be the way you are.

We are moral and spiritual beings who make our own choices in the face of mistreatment.

This does not minimize the pain inflicted on us by a bad mother. That pain is real, but that pain cannot make you immoral and atheistic--that choice resides within us. No one can ever make that decision for us. No one has that power or privilege.

Have you ever thought about the truth that your mom did not cause you to be the way you are, but rather revealed who you chose to become?

Have you owned up to what the Bible describes as your fallen and sinful nature?

Or do you find comfort (as odd as that sounds) in using your mother as a scapegoat for your personal struggles? After all, you have stories of her poor mothering, so what better way to justify your own inadequacies and wrongdoing than by telling those stories so others will empathize with you as an innocent victim?

This is vital to do given your personality sours other people and you rupture relationships right and left. In your way of thinking, it’s best to make mommy the fall guy, the patsy. Throw her under the bus.

Each of us has to ask ourselves: Why do I struggle with anger, fear, envy, jealousy, lust, hate, etc? Is it due to my mom and/or dad?

The easiest and earliest way to reconcile the person we want to be from the person we are is, in fact, to assign blame to our parents.

Why give your mom a Mother’s Day card when you send another message all year long that she’s the reason for most of your problems?

I suppose that your mother senses your resentment for who she is and the blame you place on her for the way you are. The Mother’s Day card only reinforces her sorrow in relationship to you.

Let’s really celebrate your mom by facing the truth about you and your mom.

My message to you is to accept your mother for who she is. In doing so, you are not approving her failure to love you as she ought, but you can forgive her transgressions against you as you pray the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our transgressions as we forgive those who transgress against us.”

Look, because of her faults and failings she did not determine your moral and spiritual destiny.

This is not about your mother predestining you to a life of sin and sorrow.  This is about your predisposition to choose such a life.  

As unkind as my words sound, I simply want all of us to find freedom.

We find freedom in hearing Jesus, who said in Mark 7:21-23,

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."

When we realize that mom (or dad) did not predestine us to a life of evil thoughts, fornications, coveting, envy, etc., but that we make those choices within ourselves, the quicker we are to discover that others do not control our inner world.

Yes, it feels uncomfortable to confess these decisions are our own, but there is great liberty when realizing we are not permanently damaged goods due to our upbringing.

You can find a new, relaxed involvement with your mom this Mother’s Day without the inner desire to scream, "You witch, you ruined my life!” She is not a witch. She did not ruin your life.

This is your issue and your issue alone, and you have the power and privilege to deal with your own issue.

-Dr. E