There’s a beautiful group of women I call #livefree friends. It’s comprised of women who are in all stages of healing, from putting their toe on the starting line to grabbing others to cross the finish line with them.
I love their stories. I love hearing what God is doing in their hearts! Today Sarah Koontz shares her story of loving her mom. It’s so good! In fact, it made me want to call my mom moments after reading it — just to let her know that I love her. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your beautiful #livefree story. ~ Suzie
When you struggle to love by Sarah Elizabeth Koontz
“I want to be in relationship with people who love me unconditionally,” my mom quietly admitted, tears streaming down her face.
Like a dagger to my heart, the truth seeped into my soul and revealed something ugly I had never before seen.
I had not loved her well.
What do you do when you realize, for the first time, that one of the primary relationships in your life is broken and the fault rests solely on your shoulders?
Don’t get me wrong, up until the moment I described above, I had been confident the blame was not my own.
I had dedicated countless hours of emotional energy to building a case against my mom, finding fault in her every move.
She simply didn’t love me how I needed to be loved.
But what if, in the midst of it all, she had pulled back from the relationship because it wasn’t a safe place for her to be?
What if by focusing on the things I felt were lacking in the relationship, I had somehow destroyed everything that was good and beautiful in it?
Driving away from my mom’s house that day, my head was spinning and my heart was broken.
For the first time in my life, I had seen myself through her eyes.
Eyes that were filled with a mixture of intense love and intense pain.
I wanted, no I needed, to do everything in my power to erase the pain I saw in those eyes.
But how do you erase the pain in the eyes of someone you love?
In moments like these, when I am overwhelmed and uncertain of how to proceed, I do the only thing I know to do.
I pray. I seek. I beckon the Lord to enter into the brokenness of my life and show me the way through.
Brokenness is a powerful thing, uncertainty is a gift, and desperation is a key that unlocks the truths of God’s word.
But only if you pray, seek, beckon.
Oh, how I longed for an immediate answer, a peace to fill my soul and comfort to dull the pain.
I hate feeling ugly, and broken, and incapable.
But the Lord’s answer was not immediate, and the ugliness clung to me like a reluctant toddler clings to his mother’s leg.
I, Sarah Koontz, had failed.
There was no other way to say it. That’s the painful truth. I had not loved my mother well.
[bctt tweet=”What if you realized you had not loved well? There is something you can do. #livingfreetogether https://wp.me/p4jbdw-2Vz” username=”suzanneeller”]
Days passed, and I continued to seek the Lord in prayer.
It is rare for me to have an experience where I hear the Lord’s voice behind me saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 31:20)
But the Lord eventually responded to my desperation, to my pleas for wisdom and direction.
He spoke gently to my heart…
How have I loved you, Sarah?
I was standing in my bathroom when this question floated through my head down into my heart…how has He loved me?
It’s at moments like these that I am eternally grateful for my upbringing in the church.
Because I knew the answer to that question.
God loves me, not because of my own merit, but because of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross.
When God looks at me, He does not see my past sins, because my slate has been wiped white as snow.
God loves me because of who He is.
In that moment, I was able to figuratively look into my Heavenly Father’s eyes and see his unconditional love for me.
There was no pain there, no brokenness, no dissatisfaction…just love.
How could God look upon me with such love and acceptance when I have failed Him so utterly and completely?
Then it struck me.
He could look at me that way because the slate had been wiped clean.
He had truly forgiven me of all of my shortcomings and chosen to love me unconditionally in spite of them all.
If I could learn to love my mom in the same way, maybe in time, that love could erase the pain in her eyes.
A clean slate.
An unconditional love.
These gifts are not mine to offer, but I know the One who is the giver of all good gifts.
And I will ask Him each morning for the strength to see my mom through His eyes, to love my mom with His love.
Mom, thank you for those tears.
Thank you for loving me enough to show me your pain.
I will never be able to love you as perfectly or unconditionally as God has loved you, but I will dedicate the rest of my life to loving you better.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Koontz is a talented communicator who has a passion for the written word. When Sarah is not writing, you are likely to find her covered in dirt, sitting in the middle of her garden, adoring her beautiful flock of backyard chickens. She is eternally grateful for her husband and two little girls, and revels in their simple, uncluttered life. Read more of Sarah’s writing at Grounded & Surrounded and SarahKoontz.com. Or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Oh Sarah! This brought me to tears!!! I have a similar history with my dad. This line got me (well, all the lines got me, but anyways…): “And I will ask Him each morning for the strength to see my mom through His eyes, to love my mom with His love.” BEEN THERE! It was the most freeing thing I’d ever done, surrendering myself to love my dad how GOD wanted me to love him. It was beautiful, and hard, and everything in between. Out of ten siblings, none of the others could understand how I could be showing our dad this type of love, after how he’d treated us. It’s confusing. And my only solid answer? Jesus. It just makes sense when we look at Him for those answers. Thank you for sharing from such a vulnerable place today! I absolutely love this! Suzie, thank you for allowing Sarah to share this 🙂 #LIVEFREE!
Crystal, my mom had the same experience with her dad. She is the oldest of 10 and struggled for years to forgive him. When I was sharing the story above with her, telling her the work of freedom God was doing in my heart, she told me all about how God had done the same in her heart decades ago. When we choose to forgive and wipe the slate clean, the devil loses a foothold in our lives. Satan does not want us to live in unity and he adores discord, especially in the family unit. I pray that your act of forgiveness towards your father serves as a strong testimony of the Lord’s work in your life.
My husband has hurt me and my children for so many years. Now that they are getting older I can see the effects of their upbringing. It hurts me terribly. My kids deserved so much more. We are still together but just living in the same house, that is all. I carry a lot of hurt and anger toward him, sometimes even hating him. I don’t hate him now. I am trying to just be pleasant toward him. I want to get rid of my hatred, that in itself is a big step for me as before I didn’t. I wanted to punish him with my sharp attitude and words. So I am trying to at least be pleasant. Love him? I know God wants me to but the human side of me can’t do that, He doesn’t deserve my love as his wife. I need help.
Sweet Struggling Sister, I will pray for you. I cannot imagine the pain you must be experiencing. I have no specific insight or wisdom to offer you, except that I know God loves you with a perfect and everlasting love. Pray, Seek, Beckon the Lord to enter into the brokenness of your life and show you the way through. His answer may not be immediate, and when it comes, it may not be easy….but remember that we love others because He first loved us. Find a balm for your wounds in His love and trust that eventually He will give you the strength to Love the unlovable just as He has loved us when we were unlovable.
Thank you for caring enough to pray for me. I appeciate it.
Father, thank you for this beautiful woman of faith. I hear her heart. She’s doing all she can but needs you to step into those places where she can’t “fix” it. I’ve been in those hard places and you meet us there. Supernaturally give her the strength moment by moment, day by day. Cover this family with your healing power. Give her wisdom bigger than the circumstances and mercy that covers her, her children, and this husband. Lead him to yourself, Father. Draw him. Speak to him. Put people in his path that share the truth of your word. Hold her close in the meantime. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Thank you for caring enough to pray for me. I appeciate it.
You both show us how to love. Thank you, Sarah and Crystal.
Love, love, love this conversation! What stands out to me is this business of generational sin. Dang girls. It’s real. The only thing I know that breaks it is the cross. It never ceases to amaze me how wide and deep is the reach of the cross…including generations within a family! Been there done that and feeling just as you all are…humbled and grateful!
Cindy, you are SO RIGHT! My mom and I have discussed the generational element of the struggles we have had with one another. The power of the cross is REAL and TRANSFORMATIVE, and I am so grateful for the Lord’s work in breaking us down to a point where we were both humble enough to admit our failures and move beyond them with grace and forgiveness.
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your heart here and encouraging all of us to break the bonds that hold us back from loving other well!
So much beauty in this post, Sarah! Thank you for sharing your imperfections so openly; it ministers!
What a beautiful post with so much conviction and truth. Makes me ask, “Who am I not loving well?” Lots to take to the Lord in prayer. Thank you for sharing!
Darcy, I think we all have people in our lives who we struggle to love well. No one knows how long they have here on earth, and that is why it is so very important that we make a decision to love well today. I am praying for many more years here on earth with my mom, but take comfort in the fact that I loved her well today.
Because God has not promised us tomorrow…
Wow – loving others takes a lot of work!!! Especially when you need to go beyond that old sin and hurt. I can relate in my relationship with my mom, as well. The past is NOT the present, even though we make it so on a daily basis. But it is worth every drop of sweat and blood to make the changes in how we love. And our sweet Jesus is the way to freedom in all of it. Amen!!!
You are so right, Darcy! The past is not the present, but it sneaks into our daily lives if we aren’t careful. It took me a long time to realize that I was trapped in the past, and lashing out in the present wasn’t doing much of anything to help the situation. The decision to truly wipe the slate clean has brought me so much more freedom than I ever anticipated.
This is an insanely timely devotional for me. Thank you for sharing your heart and reaching out to others of us who wrestle with the past.
We all carry burdens from our past, don’t we Anna? Regardless of how “good” or “bad” we had it as children, no one survives childhood without a few scars. I am so grateful the words spoke to you today, and will be praying for you.
I needed to hear this message today. An answer to prayer. Thank you.
That’s fantastic news, Kat. I am praying that the truth that has set me free will do the same for you. Blessings, sister!