words wound...use with caution...

This rose reminds me of a mother's heart...happy, open and filled with tears...
I love my quiet time in the morning. Early in the morning...5a.m. early. I use the first 45 min of my day to pray, read the daily scriptures, write in my prayer journal and just settle my mind and heart asking God to help me accept whatever He has in store for me this day.

This morning as part of my quiet time I read Ann Voskamp's post on forgiveness. She opens her heart telling a story about her father and words that have been harshly spoken, feelings that have been hurt, wounds that are still raw. It unsettled me. Made me think long and hard this morning.

Families are sometimes ugly beautiful. Hurts and hard feeling exist between siblings or between parents and children. I know that my family is not immune from these things. Not the one I grew up in or the one I created with my husband. Families stretch us they make us take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror to really see the true reflection of our hearts. No one will tell you the truth better than your sister or your mother. Hopefully they will speak those words with humility and grace.

I know that has not always been the case for me. I was a difficult child to raise. Just ask my mother. I had a mouth that could curl paint off the wall and an attitude to match. I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it. I HATED to be told what to do...by anyone! It still is a place of great weakness for me. I remember the first and only time I called my mother the B**** word. I was in the 6th grade and I had gotten bold in my old age. I didn't have the guts to say it to her face, so I wrote in my journal.

There is one thing you learn quickly when you grow up in a large household mostly filled with boys...never let them know you have a secret hiding place and NEVER leave your journal there. They will take it upon themselves to become like little Navy SEALS running the hidden underground tunnels  looking for the treasure. And when they find it and decide it would make lovely dinner time reading...you will want to commit homicide for the first time in your young life.

What I remember most about that most humbling of pre-teen moments, besides my fathers explosive anger and yelling the "How could you's?" and the "So disappointed in you's!" followed by the "You will NOT disrespect your mother that way!",  was the look of hurt on my mother's face and the single tear that escaped.

My mother the calm non-emotional one shed a tear. My eyes mist at the memory. Mothering can be the cruelest job on the planet.

At the time I was screaming back at my fahter that my journal was private and no one was supposed to see it. I hadn't really called my mother that because I hadn't said it to her face. My brother was the one at fault. He did it.

I shake my head as I write those words knowing how sad they really are.

I was sent to my room without dinner. I sat and stewed. I was so angry at my brother for his betrayal and his laughing with glee that I was going to be in BIGtime trouble. I wasn't thinking about how I had treated my mother over something petty, I just wanted justice for my privacy being violated. My arms crossed, my face scrunched so tight and my heart completely closed I waited for the unfair punishment that would be doled out.

What came next surprised me.

My mother came into my room. She held my journal in her hands and sat next to me on my bed. She told me that my words had hurt her deeply but that she was reminded of the many times she had hurt her own mother by her words and actions and she understood that sometimes we feel the need to lash out.

"I love you so much. It hurts me that you would think that I would mistreat you in any way. I'm just doing the best I can Mary Beth. Being a mother is the hardest job I have and no one says thank you when I get it right. You know that sort of disrespect and language is not allowed in our home. What kind of example is that to set for your younger brothers and sister? Now I want you to tell me what's really going on...why are you so angry?"

A mother always knows when her child is hurting. Always...

The dam burst and I just remember feeling exhausted from all the words that spilled forth swept away in a tide of emotion. Life is hard at 12 when your taller than the tallest boy at school and you feel like a leper because your don't have the latest this or that. I was more tomboy than girly girl and I didn't know how to navigate all that "girl stuff". I felt had no privacy, no respect from my siblings. I was drowning in emotion and thought I had no safe place to land.

So much grace poured forth from all those hard places. Mom held me as I cried, encouraged me quietly and accepted my apology when it finally came. So many lessons learned that day. Hard lessons, very hard lessons.

Words wound.

Use with caution.

The thing is...it's those hard lessons that stay with you. They are the ones that mold your heart for later in life when your own child comes back at you in a moment of anger and pierces your mothers heart with words of disrespect.

It's in those moments I say a prayer for my mother, thanking God she loved me enough to teach me how to parent with grace and unconditional love...even in the hard moments.

Ann @ A Holy Experience wrote three beautiful ways to forgive:

Three Ways to Forgive:
Be a Screen Door
Like the wind blows through a screen door, let blustry comments, stormy blasts just blow right past. Incidents can only hit hard if you have your front door closed. But having a screen door policy allows some of the pain to blow by, us all hidden in Christ….
Only Believe the Best
When you believe that everyone is always just doing their best, that we never war against flesh and blood but against the principalities, that in light of this fallen world and sinful limitations, they truly are doing their best… this changes everything. Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things and whatever is good and pure and lovely, think on these things.
Tell the Thankful Truth
The truth is, there is always something, a lot, to give thanks for and that is the truth about every single parent. Consider offering a father, a mother, the gift of a jar full of slips of paper with your gratitude and thankful memories jotted down. This kind of grateful truth-telling helps to heal old wounds.

My mother knew these things instinctually and she taught me without words. She is understood forgiveness and helped me see the grace in asking for and receiving it. I am grateful for the lessons...the easy and the hard. Mothering is the hardest job on the planet. Thank you Mom for everything you do...