Like all good daughters, I have subscribed a number of MY personal issues onto my mother. Because of my mom, I (fill in the blank)______________. Many of you probably can relate and would admit that the mother/daughter relationship thing can be hard and complicated. Maybe that’s why the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, choose to bless me with three sons! To demonstrate, here is but a small list of the things I have blamed my mother for in the past:
I lack athletic prowess because my mom didn’t stress the value of sports.
I don’t know how to swim because my mom never took me for swimming lessons as a small child.
I am bad with money because my mom didn’t teach me the value of a dollar.
And the list goes on and on…I will stop there as to not further embarrass myself.
But yesterday, I found myself humbled and blessed. Something that has long been on my “list” needs to be removed.
For decades now I have told people that there are not a lot of photos of me when I was a child. If you and I were in a random conversation and you happened to mention something about pictures of yourself as a kid, I would probably have sighed heavily and told you of my picture woes. (Strum sappy violin music). When I was a girl growing up in Wheaton, Illinois, we had a flood in our basement and it destroyed, among other things, boxes and boxes of pictures. I recall the soggy, blobby paper mess and the dismay I felt in my young girl’s heart as I saw my memories destroyed. Who was to blame for the flood? Well, it honestly didn’t matter, I knew the culprit. I suspect you can guess my prime suspect. Yes, it was my mom.
This week, following a meeting with my favorite organization consultant, I began the necessary and tedious task of de-cluttering my home. In various closets, possibly in every room there is a box or basket full of pictures. This week I have begun to weed through them, tossing out the bad photos, hanging on to the good ones. Geralin has a theory about pictures which I now claim as my own. She says, “if I don’t look good in the picture, then it goes.” Geralin’s my girl, one of my fab five, as my youngest OS would jest.
I am amazed at the scads of pictures we have EVERYWHERE! The stockpiles of pictures blurred my head as I tossed one photo after another into the trash. It has been freeing to re-claim lost closet space and re-discover sweet pictures of days gone by.
And last night, I believe the Lord healed a part of me because in the frenzied mass of photos, I am finding a lot of pictures of myself. There are many of me as a little girl on random Picture Days, a couple of me walking up the sidewalk for my first day of kindergarten, a few particularly unflattering pics of me blowing out candles on a birthday cake as a pimply teen, you get the idea.
Oh, dear friends, I have found me.
My past was not completely destroyed in that basement. There were salvages of my life still preserved, in greater proportion than I ever realized.
And so in the tv room, after everyone was in bed, I held picture after picture of myself in my hands and drifted back to those moments. They are not gone. They are preserved both in these pictures but also within me. Sorting through all the clutter and getting rid of the unnecessary, buried among it all, was Cindy. She hadn’t dissolved away into nothingness. As I make room in my home, I am finding new places in my spirit as well.
I’m learning that I can no longer blame my mom for a lot of things I have done in the past. Honestly, I have been aware of that for about 12 years now since asking Jesus into my heart and looking squarely at my own contrition and culpability. But how immature I have been to blame an act of God like a flood on my poor mother. I mean really. For goodness sake, she had no control over it no matter how much power I think a mama can wield.
I hesitate for a moment and wonder to myself. Actually, a jab of anxiety wafts over me…what will my OS blame me for? What will be something that they say I should have done differently? Will we just laugh about it or will I carry around grief and guilt. Ew. What salvages of their own shortcomings will they try and attribute to me, their mom who, like my own, is trying the very best she can to make a sweet and wonderful life for them?
That is not something that I can answer. Today I’d rather focus on what I can claim victory over. I found me. I, or rather, remnants of me, weren’t swept away in an unpredictable flood. And if all the pictures were gone, I now admit it wouldn’t have been my mom’s fault in the first place.
When we went out for a late-night run to the grocery store to buy dish washing detergent, (doesn’t that sound like a fun outing!?), I decided to release this guilt from her once and for all. She has been staying at my house recovering from surgery on her wrist and a bout of pneumonia. The healing process has been painful and discouraging but last night, I believe both of us got healed in a way we weren’t expecting. We got in the car and I couldn’t wait to tell her my revelation. It wasn’t a gushy moment but I felt a weight off my heart and I noticed she had a look of contentment on her face and it wasn’t because we were going to buy dish washing detergent at 10pm!
Guilt and blame, in all of its forms, are as destructive as a flood. Forgiveness and grace, on the other hand, fellow imperfect mamas of the world, well that can wash over a multitude of sins.
Hallelujah, grace like rain, washing down on me…