Restoring relationships that hurt

Restoring relationships that hurt

It is no big secret to those who know me well that my biological mother and I did not get along. There were many reasons, and looking back on them now that I am older and have grown children of my own, I see more of the complications that caused the often very turbulent waters. Some changes and a lot of understanding could have been made easier for all of us had I known then what I know now. Such is life.

I thank God daily that I had the good, sound and leveling investments of my mother’s mother, my Mama Cole, and my two aunts, Anna and Minnie, among other adults, to help guide me through the growing years. I was born in Mama Cole’s house on her big wooden kitchen table and lived there until I was 6 years old. In all fairness and with a clear conscious, I can report that my mom had difficulty in every relationship she had over the years and even though I tried my best, I never felt I pleased her with any of my accomplishments. I had to learn to deal with that.

When I became a Christian at a summer youth camp when I was in my late teens, I had trouble aligning the biblical principles we were taught with my mother’s inability to express love, approval and helpfulness. It was baffling. Here I was a young Christian trying to do the right thing, and as I learned about family dynamics, I became even more confused. The more I tried, the meaner Mother became and she found fault in everything I did or didn’t do.

When I came home so excited and showed her my engagement ring I had been given on the steps of the little church where my fiancé and I met, the only thing she said was, “It sure is big enough. Is it real?” Not exactly the reaction one wants or expects. My heart was broken again when she refused to go to my wedding, although she claimed to like my future husband. Thank God my sweet aunts and good friends stepped in; I had a beautiful ceremony.

I battled through ugly scenes, horrible holidays, and heart-crushing memories until one night I was attending a huge meeting in downtown Atlanta, and the speaker asked a question that literally changed my life. He said, “How many of you here tonight are struggling with relationships you don’t understand? Perhaps you are living your life working, worshipping and wondering why God would let you have this heartache.” And then he said, “Has it ever occurred to you that God, being God, could have had you born to anyone, at any time, and anywhere in this world?” He assured the vast audience that God knew what He was doing. He still does.

I thought seriously about what he had said. God knew my mother’s temperament. He made her, too. He knew that her heart would be crushed when her young husband, my father, was killed in action in World War II when I was 6 months old and that I would never see him. God knew about the various addictions that she would endure, and He knew about my pain. He knew how hard I had tried to help by caring for my two brothers and sisters.

I have been thinking a lot about relationships as the holidays roll around, and I know that for many they are difficult. I also know that every relationship cannot be fixed or mended. Some are broken irretrievably. But I also have learned that many could be restored when just one person makes a right move. May I urge you to reconsider why you are angry with someone, why you feel you cannot get along, what you could do to open that door of reconciliation just a crack, and then pray and take action.

We would be amazed at the good that can come of one person extending an outreach. Will you be that one person?


Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.