FamilyHealing 5 minutes to read

Recently, I was cleaning out my office closet and came across a copy of a letter I wrote to my oldest daughter years ago while she was away at college. 

Dear Danielle, 

I am writing you this letter because when you were a child, I didn’t give you the best care that you needed at the time. Within my own heart and soul, a lot was going on that I didn’t even know myself. Through these past years of healing, God is showing me where I have sinned. 

As I look back at videos, pictures, and recall memories, I feel that I have not given you the love, attention, and nurturing you so deserve. I realized that I didn’t get these things as a child, and I believe, as an adult, I was looking for these things; and in the process, I neglected what you needed. I did not know how to respond appropriately to your personality and feel that I didn’t know how to connect with you as a daughter. I am sincerely sorry, and knowing what I know now, I would do things differently. 

God is so faithful in restoring what has been lost, and I am praying that He restores this relationship. Still, most of all, I am asking that He would restore what has been lost in your childhood because of my lack of not understanding you, nurturing you, and loving you. You are truly valued and I have not shown that through the years. I am so sorry. I’m asking that you would forgive me for not giving you all that you needed. 

I believe because of the issues I had with your dad, it became my focus. Because of what you were going through, I tried to encourage you with my words but not with my actions. What was missing was my time to show you how valuable you are to me. I love you, and I pray that our relationship will grow stronger over the years. And, that the wounds in your heart that were created by me will be filled with the love of God.

I love you, 

Mom

I wrote this letter in response to something Danielle shared with me when she was away at college. It was regarding a time in her childhood when Ernie and I were having major problems in our marriage. After I got over the shock of how she felt about the situation, I was grateful she thought she could share with me what was going on with her at the time. It made me see how I came to a point in my life where I was transforming. I could look back and see how much I changed and also see how my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors had impacted her as a child. 

Although it’s been years since I wrote this letter, I recently asked Danielle if she remembered this letter and how she felt about it. She said she remembered it and she never expected anything like this from me. The letter brought up a flood of memories for her and made her realize how much I had changed over the years. She said, “Mom, the timing was perfect; if I had received a letter from you years earlier, I might not have believed what you wrote. But looking back, I see the change and know you were genuine in what you wrote.” 

When you were younger, did you ever make a vow to never be like your mom or dad? And, the more you tried not to be like them, the more you were just like them? This is exactly what happened to me. My relationship with my husband was going down the same pathway as my parents. This was not good. 

When I was a teenager, I was resentful of my mom because, basically, she gave everyone else her attention. It seemed like she thought others were more important than me. 

People adored my mom. She was a saint and knew all the right answers. She would give away her last dime to someone in need. Some of her choices were not wise and I see how it impacted her mental and physical health until her death. 

I’ve wrestled with this and often ask God, “Why, with her wisdom, did she not have the courage to make wise decisions for herself when she made so many for others? And of all the good she has done, why did she have to suffer until her very last breath?” I still don’t know the answer to that one. What I can say is that I trust God has given her an enormous crown for the character of Jesus she showed to many. I believe her pain and suffering in this life are nothing compared to the joy she is experiencing now. 

I have renounced the vow I made when I was younger and have committed to continuing her legacy. Not doing everything like she did, but creating a healthier version of myself. Having a better self-awareness instead of focusing my attention on external awareness. Giving time to myself and God; allowing Him to change me instead of wanting Him to change others. And, most importantly, building healthy, authentic relationships with my husband and daughters. 

This is one of the reasons I shared the letter I wrote to my oldest daughter. I would have loved for my mother to sit with me, tell me how much she loved me, and listen empathetically to what I was going through because of her experience. I wish she would have acknowledged how some choices she made had traumatic effects on me as a child. I wish I could have heard my mom’s story of her  childhood, how it made her feel, and how it impacted her life. I wish my mom could have shared with me the truth about her and my dad’s marriage. 

After saying all this, I can rejoice because God has redeemed what was lost! Because of my healing and growth, I’m able to see beyond what I did not receive from my parents. I’m able to carry on my mother’s love for the Lord and for others. I have the same determination she had in wanting a better life for her and her family. I am truly grateful. 

God is giving me the grace to build upon my mother’s legacy. He’s given me the grace to heal and pursue health in my family. My mother may not have done all things well, but she did do things with good intentions. I want to take her legacy and continue to do things well, also with good intentions. 

One of the ways I plan to do this is by strengthening my relationship with my daughters. I want them to know how much I love and value them as unique and individual women. My prayer is that they will become all that God has designed them to be—for His Glory and their good.