“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.”
— Psalm 27:10
It’s hard to imagine that a mother would abandon her child, yet it does happen. Even if a mother has not physically abandoned her child, there are forms of neglect that can be equally as devastating.
Children raised by alcoholics, drug-addicted mothers, or mothers who have mental health conditions, either undiagnosed or untreated, personality disorders, or a high degree of toxic behavior may struggle into their own adulthood.
The absence of a mother’s genuine love leaves a wound that can infect many areas of that adult child’s life.
Why is the mother wound so devastating?
It seems we can accept a man being physically or emotionally unavailable, but not a mother. The mother is usually the more compassionate, nurturing, supportive member of the family. Even if a mother has more dominating qualities to her personality, she still has a natural tendency towards love for her children.
But if a mother is toxic and dysfunctional, it will often create an adult child with an emptiness that can’t seem to be filled.
Here are some signs that you are suffering from a mother wound.
- Never feeling like you had your mother’s approval
- Feeling less loved than your other siblings
- Fear or ambivalence towards women
- Feeling the need to protect your mother
- People-pleasing tendencies
- Emotional dependency on (or detachment from) others
- Weak sense of identity
Some wounds are created from a selfish neglect that seems inspired by evil. But often times, these mothers underestimate the negative impact they have on their child’s lives.
Many mothers truly want to do what’s best for their children, but unfortunately their version of best can leave a vacuum that is filled with shame and insecurity. And as a result, the adult children of these mothers find themselves in a constant state of dysfunctional relational patterns.
Regardless of your past, Jesus has a new life waiting for you. It is a life filled with hope and abundance.
To break free to the abundant life, I want to invite you to walk with me through the three steps of healing the mother wound.
Step #1: Feel.
Feelings are powerful indicators of what is happening inside of you. Often times we take two extreme approaches; we tend to either ignore our feelings, or give them full rein. Neither is helpful. Instead, let your feelings reveal what’s going on inside of you.
When you are feeling a certain way that seems outsized or inappropriate for the occasion, stop and ask, “When during childhood did I feel this way?” It will take you back to a specific memory that you can now take to Jesus to heal.
Here’s how: Close your eyes and take yourself back to that experience. Be the age you were. Feel the feelings. Then invite Jesus in.
He may show up and sit right next to you. He may be present in another way, but he will be there. Then ask him anything. Some common questions are, “Jesus, why did you allow this to happen to me?” Or, “Jesus, where were you?”
In those moments, let Jesus speak to your heart. Don’t rush this. Don’t imagine what he would say, let him show up and say it himself. It will change your life.
Step #2: Forgive.
There will come a point where you have to decide whether you want to hold on to the painful memories or surrender them to the Lord so you can move forward.
Forgiveness does not say that what your mother did was OK. It simply releases you from carrying the burden any longer.
I understand that you likely don’t want to forgive your mother for what she’s done. Or perhaps you do, but you don’t ‘feel’ like you have it in you. The good news is that forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s a choice.
But it’s likely not a one and done. You may have to look back over specific memories and forgive each one.
If you’re thinking, Kris won’t that take me too long?
My question to you is, would you rather work through the pain or be stuck in it? It doesn’t mean you will have to now trust your mother. You can, and likely should, still have boundaries with her.
Amazing things happen when you forgive. One, you feel lighter because you’ve just unburdened yourself from the yoke tying you to this person. (Click here for more on breaking destructive soul ties.) Two, by taking them off YOUR hook, they can now go on God’s hook, where He can pay back or restore better than you ever could. And three, it frees you to love others appropriately.
Step #3: Find.
In this final step there are two things that are important to find.
- Healing. Forgiveness releases you from the bondage, but the healing of wounds often takes time and work. (There are some emotions that God heals instantly upon forgiveness and there are others He wants to journey with you.) If you find that you are still being ‘triggered,’ or if your reactions are not healthy, it’s time to get some help to heal the wounds. These wounds have likely created unhealthy imprints in your life that are automatic and hard for you to recognize. Healing may take a while, but physical wounds, they need to be addressed specifically. You wouldn’t treat a scrape the same way you would a puncture wound. Ignoring a wound and slapping a forgiveness Band-Aid on it may only cause it to become infected.
- Identity. Those with mother wounds usually struggle with identity issues. Uncertain as to who they are, they struggle with things like insecurity, arrogance, shame, and perfectionism, to name a few. Understanding who you are is critical in being able to move forward in the abundant life that God has for you. He created you with intentionality and just because someone on this earth tried to distort that identity, doesn’t change it. If you are a follower of Christ, you are a child of God….cherished, loved and adored. I pray that you will hold your head high and embrace your heavenly identity.
As you learn to allow Jesus to heal these painful memories and emotions, you will come to find that he wants to be the love of your life. He wants to meet your every need for attachment and security.
I pray that you will step out into your new life with Jesus today.
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