My mother and I had a very contentious relationship for many years. We forgave each other, but our relationship suffered irreparable damage and we did not speak to each other often during the last years of her life.
In September 2013 she was rushed to the hospital with labored breathing. The tumor that was seen in her left lung in 2008 had grown to engulf it entirely. The doctor gave her less than two months.
For awhile I had been learning from the Lord about complete forgiveness. But in the last two months, I asked the Lord specifically if I had forgiven my mom completely. I felt that I had, but yet I wanted to love her the way she needed me to in these last moments and found myself still angry and bound up. It was still hard for me to release “I love you” to my mom without it leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.
My forgiveness wasn’t complete.
It was hard for me to look in the mirror of my heart and see that I still carried anger even though I wanted to believe I was blameless.
What the Lord revealed to me is that I still wanted justice.
But what He also revealed to me is that mom had already been forgiven completely by Him, so I had no right to demand justice for an act that He had stricken from her record.
So I prayed and asked Him how. How to release my need for justice. How to love her when I can’t say the words.
When Christ died for us, His forgiveness was complete. Our transgressions are not remembered by Him. We still reap what we have sown in sin, but that is His justice. And it is always fair.
When we ask Him to forgive us, we expect to receive complete forgiveness. So why do we still find it hard to forgive others completely? It’s our carnal need for justice.
The Word states that “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay”. That means that we should release our need for justice back to the cross of Christ. That’s what I did not do. So I prayed a prayer of repentance. I confessed my remaining unforgiveness and stated once again that I forgive mom, and release her guilt to the cross.
It was easier to tell her I love her after that. Responsibility for justice is a hard burden to carry. None of us are meant to carry it. It belongs to Christ. When we carry it out of fear, and anger, refusing to release it, it engulfs our minds so much we can’t think of anything else. Once we release it, we are free to hear from Christ again, to be empty of our own need so He can fill us with His unconditional agape love.
My earthly self wasn’t able to love mom the way she needed to be loved. But the daughter of God, my eternal self was able to be a conduit of God’s love, and that was just what she needed. This love comes not from our weakness, but His strength.
So when my mother was laid to rest, I knew that she was finally whole and at peace, capable of unspeakable joy, being loved like she has never been loved before.
And with her eternal healing, I am able to continue my earthly one with the knowledge that the tender lesson I have learned will bear much fruit in my life, and the lives of others.
From Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
….weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.