Love Actually

I cannot remember the last time that I heard my mom laugh.

However, I can surely tell you the last time that she hurt my feelings…

the last time that she yelled at me…

the last time that she treated someone she didn’t know with contempt…

the last time that she talked bad about me behind my back to my kids…

the last time she yelled at people when walking into a funeral.

It was on this last day that I realized something:

I just really do not like my mom.

Honestly, I have known it for a very long time, but this day…the day of the funeral was the day I finally decided that I must own this and figure out what I must do as a son who can’t stand his own mother. The same son (along with my wife, Tiff,  who is much much better at this stuff than I am) who is the only person that my mom has to take care of her.

I would be remiss if I didn’t stop here and recognize my dear friends that I know would give anything to have their parents back here on earth for one more day…one more hour.  Please know that I recognize that it is a blessing to have not yet experienced the loss of a parent. For this, for the pain that this may have caused some of you, I do not take lightly.

The other day I was reading a Dallas Willard book and I came across the following words:

‘And we should note that one of the things that disappear when we are grinding away at others with our condemnation, blamings, and ‘pearls’ is, precisely, laughter. We become insufferably grim.’

I quickly circled this passage and wrote a note beside it ‘Wow! This is mom. No laughter.’

And, she is indeed nearly insufferable.

For me, besides the anger I constantly feel towards her, the biggest thing that I’ve battled with when I have to interact with mom, is shame.

How can I be so angry with my own mom?
How can I have these feelings for her?
How can I continue to build my kingdom heart when I don’t even like my own mother?
How shameful is it that as I profess to working to be a disciple of Christ, I cannot even seem to follow God‘s commandment to:

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. - Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

In distress and guilt over my new public posture towards my mother, I asked Tiff about my seeming disregard for God‘s wishes. She challenged me to search my heart as to what honor and respect truly mean.

Can I honor and respect mom while simultaneously not liking her?

My dislike won’t change all the care that we give her. All the inclusion provided to her… the financial support…the emotional support…it will remain.

What will have changed is my posture.  There will no longer be ambiguity.

I will now approach this carefully - on how to heal myself instead of trying to heal her. What I can’t do anymore is let this black cloud of my ruminations on this anger, this hurt, her contempt for others, spread through my body to my joy filled heart.  I need for the joy to continue to expand and consume these remaining negative thoughts and bitterness. It is only then that love can actually replace dislike as my default posture towards her. 

Author and Social Scientist Brene Brown said:

‘If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.’

I need to no longer feel shame about this.
I need to confess to my dislike and be forgiven.
I need to work on forgiving myself.  
I need to share this with others who I know will respond with love.
I need mercy.
i need to pray more.
And I need for you to pray for me.