This story gets worse before it gets better, so I’ll begin by quoting these beautiful scriptures that have meant so much to me on this journey of forgiveness and restoration.
“And I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Here we go!
When I was ten years old, my mother left.
I came home from school expecting her to be across the street at our family hair salon, but she was gone and had left a note saying goodbye. I didn’t hear from her for about six weeks.
She didn’t come back.
Can you imagine what happens to a ten-year-old girl’s heart when her mother leaves and doesn’t get in contact for six weeks?
It breaks apart. It is pulverized. It was like gravity had lost its power on the pieces of my heart and they were floating around aimlessly, like an astronaut in space. For quite some time after that, I was on a tight rope of abandonment and grief, just trying to stay balanced, just trying to keep from falling.
As you would imagine, I became hardened, older, and wary. The utter heartbreak began a lifetime of abandonment and trust issues, not to mention a suspicion of women, and obviously a great physical and emotional separation from my mum, (oh yeah, I’m a New Zealander. We say mum!) despite her eventual attempts to apologize and make up for the loss.
I lived with my Dad and threw myself into school, into books, into music—drums, rock ‘n roll and writing sad songs, specifically. Heartbreak is great fodder for songwriting, and I found I had a penchant for it from early on. The bands I found myself in and gigging with were local Christian artists, and due to the lovely way that God orchestrates things, I found myself playing at many Christian events and festivals.
So at seventeen years old, at Parachute Music festival in New Zealand, I heard the gospel in a unique and real way. Through the revelation of God’s goodness and constant, all-consuming love, I gave my heart to Jesus and slowly started to heal.
My heart gradually began changing. Like wax over heat, it started to become pliable and soft again, but unfortunately there was always a fracture in my relationship with my mum. There was always a divide, always a slight anger and mistrust. We spent a little time together during my teen years, but not much. I was young and selfish and hurt. Once I even chose a skiing trip with my dad rather than a week with my mum. (Wow- I need to go back and apologize to her about that!)
A measure of healing and forgiveness happened over my twenties as I grew and discovered more about life. I learned that life can be hard and the decisions one must make with the knowledge they have at the time can be difficult. It wasn’t until I had my son Oliver, nearly thirteen years ago, that the true miracle occurred.
Mum said she was going to come for the birth and stay with us for six weeks or so.
I said, “Absolutely not!”
I hadn’t lived with her since a fraught, tension-filled year when I was fourteen. I did a year of school in Montana, where she was living. It is our home state. (I’m half Kiwi/half American!) Granted, I was fourteen and everything was dramatic and tension-filled, but I could not imagine living with her again at such a tender, special time in my life.
I convinced her to come after the birth and for a shorter time. (Probably should apologize about that too. Geez, I was harsh towards her!)
She came after the birth and jumped right in to help. At first, I kept her at arms-length, but eventually, maybe due to exhaustion, but probably due to God softening my heart and covering us all with His grace, I let go. I let her help. I gave up trying to be hardened towards her.
I gave her the baby, said thanks, and went to bed.
It was during this time that I discovered that I needed her and that I trusted her and that I liked her a lot. She’s fun, funny and carefree, and she brought a joy and lightness to our home. I had been pushing her away my whole life. I had pretended that I didn’t need her at all and sometimes went for months and months without contact.
It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I realized we were more similar than different. That once she was a young mum too, who had just made a hard choice.
Grace, forgiveness and love abounded. God was on the move in my heart and in our house. All because of a little baby boy.
She was so busy during that month. She held the baby; she cooked for us. But more than that, she loved us all. At the end of that month with baby Oliver, I didn’t want her to leave. I wished she was staying longer. I was bereft and couldn’t wait for her to come back. A supernatural shift had occurred and, through the birth of our son, forgiveness was taking place in my heart. I was transformed and so happy to be able to tell her that I had forgiven her.
I think she had a hard time believing and receiving this news. We were in our kitchen, and she was busy again talking or baking or getting dinner ready. I sat her down and just said it, “You know I forgive you Mum. You don’t have to work hard to bake us another cake or do our laundry, you can just relax here. I forgive you and I love you. You don’t have to work for it.”
It was neat. It was true, and it was something I couldn’t conjure myself. Even though the words came out of my mouth, they came from above and were heavy with grace.
Soon after this she moved to Franklin, Tennessee and lived around the corner from us. She helped raise my two little beauties. (Lucy came 3 1/2 years later and looks just like Grandma.)
Mum is an integral part of our family now. My kids adore her. I can’t tell you what it means to me to see her play around with them or hold their hands on the walk to school.
The old has gone, the new has come. The Lord truly has restored to us years of our relationship that were stolen.
I’m so incredibly grateful to God that this change, restoration and reconciliation has happened in my life.
If you would have told that ten-year-old me that one day she would live close to her mum again and watch her help raise her children, that she would love her tremendously and forgive her absolutely, she would never ever have believed it. I thought the relationship was too broken to ever be repaired. I really thought that I would go through my whole life without a strong or real mother/daughter connection.
But this is what God does. He restores, He mends the broken hearts, He provides ways for miraculous healing to take place, even (and especially) through the birth of a son.
This Mother’s Day I am beyond grateful for my mum. I hope that this slice of my life encourages you somehow. If you are at odds with your mother, call her! Be super brave and think of ways that perhaps you have hurt her, then humble yourself and apologize. Apologizing frees you up and opens the way for communication and further healing.
And forgive! I know it is easier said (or typed) than done, but give it a go! Forgiving someone is like popping an angry balloon full of resentments and regret, and watching them fall away like confetti on the wind.
If your relationship is broken and fraught with drama, I’m sorry. I pray that you can be open to God’s grace and leading, and through the power of His love and mercy, reconciliation and restoration can take place in your family. I believe it can happen, because it happened to me, when I let go and let grace come in.
Blessings and love,
Laura C Boyd.
Laura lives in Franklin, TN, with her husband John and kids Oliver and Lucy. She teaches Zumba, writes songs, reads a lot and loves her cat Milo. Her mother Cecilia has now moved back to New Zealand to help with her brothers’ kids but comes back to Franklin often.
You can follow Laura’s band NeveCo on Instagram. @neveco__