“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

This won’t be your typical “my mom’s the best mom in the world and everything I am I owe to her” kind of Mother’s Day message.  Nope.

This will be a different kind of message.

These words are, though, a lifetime in the making, and I fought hard for them. I clawed my way through a mountain of pain to find them, and I struggled to find my way back out again.

You might have guessed that growing up I didn’t have a “normal” mother-daughter relationship.  My mother didn’t teach me all the things a mother should teach a daughter.  She taught me things a mother should never teach a child, like how to hold a grudge, and how to mistrust people.  How to take daily criticism and stuff it way deep down inside until it turns into unrelenting insecurity.

As I grew up, I took all those things and so much more, lifted up the ol’ metaphorical rug and swept it all underneath.  Nevermind that the rug was miles high and anywhere I went I had to climb over it.  Nevermind that half the time I couldn’t make it to the top, and instead slid all the way back down again.

As the months and years went by, some of that pain began to seep out from underneath, so I kicked it back under there where it belonged.  As hard as I tried, it kept spilling back out again.  Furiously I kicked and swept and shoved and struggled and sweated and cried.

Slowly I began to realize that it was God standing there lifting up that rug.  He was the one letting me see all that pain.  And He didn’t just let me see it, He gave it to me.

After a lifetime of my own pain and struggles, I’ve had time to reflect on her life through eyes not much different than her own, not just as my mother, but as a human being.

I heard more stories of her painful childhood; I gained more of an understanding of mental illness; I saw that she had been misunderstood and criticized by family, friends, doctors; I saw her struggle with all that under the weight of living with an alcoholic, wayward husband and trying to raise two daughters, one of whom had a very difficult to manage neurological disorder.

And the picture I had of my mother became more and more detailed.  The colors went from black and white to living, breathing, heart-wrenching reds and blues and purples.

I saw that all that time she was crying out for someone to love her, for someone to help her. She just didn’t know how.  The pain and fear and insecurity came out as anger and it pushed people away.  It pushed all of us away.  And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see that then.  I’m sorry, Mom, that no one ever saw that.  I pray that now you have someone who is able to look past the walls you’ve built up around your heart and love you anyway.  I pray you know Jesus does.

The words I searched and struggled for all my life are this:

I forgive you, Mom.

From the bottom of my heart I forgive you, and hope you can forgive me.  I hope you know the forgiveness of Jesus so that one day you will have the peace and love you’ve longed for all your life.

I forgive you, Mom, and I love you.