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” 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


sarah kKoontz 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 Or connect with her on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.