Every spring, I put my head down and speed walk past the card aisles announcing Mother's Day. The signs’ prodding inquiries ask whether or not I’ve bought a gift for my mom. Their reminders rip scabs off wounds I’ve tried to heal. Sometimes I gather my courage and head into the aisle to play with the idea of getting my mom a card. I stare at the ornate floral cards that boldly proclaim, “Happy Mother’s Day!” A twinge of sadness spills into my heart. The question rumbles painfully through my mind—But what if I’m not close to my mom?
When I became a mom, I found the question even more challenging to answer because it sparked more questions. The grief can be overwhelming—or worse, devastating. In an ideal world, our relationships with our moms wouldn’t be hard. The Word of God speaks tenderly to this unique grief so that we, as believers, can still honor the women who birthed or adopted us. While we may not be close to our moms today, the good news of the gospel reminds us of the hope we have in God’s promised kingdom—even amid our sorrow, wrestling, and frustration.
Mourning Because I’m Not Close to My Mom
Imperfect relationships abound in our broken world. Jesus spoke on sorrow in the Sermon on the Mount when he proclaimed to the crowds, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4). This was a message for the present grief plaguing some people in the crowd who first heard these words. Those people dealt with illness, loss, and a multitude of griefs that are hard to categorize or quantify. We, too, can rest in the truth that Jesus will comfort us while we grieve not being close to our moms.
Begin searching for comfort in Jesus by acknowledging the brokenness of your relationship with your mom. When we wonder why we’re not close to our moms, it’s okay to wrestle with the grief. Grief is a natural expression of our longing for the promised hope of eternal restoration. We can also seek help by meeting with a trained counselor to walk us through healthy coping tools. These tools can heal past wounds and help us honor our relationships with our moms.
Honoring Our Moms Even When We’re Not Close
As kingdom-minded believers, the Spirit grows new character in us (Gal. 5:22–23). Honoring our parents despite broken relationships takes a different form as the Spirit guides us to be loving, gentle, peaceful, and more. This truth doesn’t mean allowing ourselves to be doormats, especially in the case of abuse or neglect. But it does mean we honor in creative ways while maintaining boundaries. As we do so, we can find hope in this truth from Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” As we look to Jesus for his righteousness and reflect this posture in our actions toward our moms, we’ll experience satisfaction in bringing glory to God as long as it depends on us.
Sometimes not contacting your mom for a certain amount of time may be the most loving thing a daughter can do. Sometimes we can put aside tension or hostility with peace offerings, such as offering (infrequent) phone calls or brief, scheduled visits. With these boundaries, we can communicate that we welcome the possibility of a restored relationship. As Paul reminds us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).
The Hope We Have in Christ
Although my relationship with my mom may cause me grief today, as a believer, I can cling to the hope of God’s kingdom, where he promises there will be no more mourning, nor crying, nor pain (Rev. 21:4). We may not receive the earthly restoration we long for, but the eternal restoration we’ll experience when we dwell with God forever is sure. This hope—established through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—is a gentle mercy to which we can cling.
The full picture of how we obtained this future hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus is illustrated in the hymn "How Deep the Father’s Love for Us":
How great the pain of searing loss—
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.1
Our loving Father knows the pain of searing loss, the pain we’ve had because of a loss of relationship with our moms. But through the wounds of Jesus, we’re reconciled to our God and become his daughters who will be united with him forever in glory (Rom. 8:16–17). One day, all our tears will be wiped away, and our mourning over our relationships with our moms will pass away (Rev. 21:4). Until then, let us hold on to the hope we have through Jesus, who has made us daughters of our gracious and compassionate King (Gal. 3:26; Matt. 5:9).
Meet the Author
Neidy (pronounced nay-dee) is a Mexican-Guatemalan creative with a love of Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and cold brew coffee on tap. She lives on the Iowa side of the Omaha metro with her three incredible niños and firefighter-paramedic husband. Currently, her family is part of a church that has a heart for diversity, and she works as the Exhale content manager. You can find her on her website, on Instagram, or every month in her newsletter.
I really appreciate this post. I truly struggle with this everyday because I have a mom who does not respect any boundaries. I want to do right by my mom but I cannot let her abuse me. So this article helped me to see that I do what I can and whatever is done in love is good even if I cannot have the full relationship with her.
This is such a good thing to share. For those of us with difficult relationships with our parents, it’s such a dose of grace to be reminded we are not alone. I want what others have but it’s just not there. It’s just not my reality and most of the time, I am okay with it. There are other times that it is a very hard thing to walk through.
Sometimes the relationship it is IS the best thing we can do for it. Having boundaries, walking along them in grace and peace is the best way to have the appropriate relationship.
Love from SE/Central Iowa countryside to all that wander this path with me!
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