How to Replace a Mother

Dear Christian Counselor,

Why is it that a woman who is already a grandmother still has such an overwhelming desire to know how it would feel to be loved, cared for and be given attention by a mom that wanted me? It makes me have a deep pain in my soul, and sometimes I cry myself to sleep. I can even remember being a teenager and doing stupid things to try and get attention from older mother figures in the church. I DEPISE that part of me!!!

How do you get a hug from God when you just are feeling like you can’t make it ?? (a sweet mom could if I had one). How can you look in God’s eyes and see that everything will be okay? (a sweet mom could if I had one).

alone, scared and silent


Dear Alone,

God doesn’t despise the unloved child inside you, and neither do I. Perhaps you could try having some compassion for her, too – that would be a good start toward helping her feel better.

It has taken you a lifetime to accumulate the pain you feel, and it will probably take some time to reduce it. But the good news is that you can begin any time, and you really can get better. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will be the complete, confident, joyful self you would like to be when you see Him face to face. But every minute between now and then is an opportunity for God’s grace to start that work right now. I say this because you should expect this to take some effort on your part, and you need to be confident (not in yourself, but in God) that it can be done.

  1. Start by reading A Father’s Love Letter as your devotional every morning. This simple document combines multiple Scriptures describing God’s love for you. 
  2. A second step to repairing a damaged childhood is to surround yourself with a strong and compassionate community. No one can fully take the place of your mother, but a lot of caring friends can help fill in the cracks. If you don’t have a church home, take the next month to visit several and then make a commitment to attend. After that, you need to find a small group within the church, a study, a ministry or a social group, where you can go deeper with others. 
  3. Finally, begin interacting with God in a mutual relationship. He speaks to you through Scripture, spiritual friends and His Holy Spirit in your heart. Listen! And then talk to Him about everything, even your anger. Write Him notes, comment on the Scriptures you are reading, sing Christian music around the house as your worship, thank Him for blessings large and small. I once set myself the goal of telling God I loved Him every hour. I won’t say I ever did it perfectly, but I do find myself more aware of His presence than I was before.

I’m so sorry you had such a painful childhood. I wish I could undo it. Fortunately, God is in the business of healing wounds and redeeming the broken things in our lives. I hope you will embark on that journey with determination and optimism. God really wants to give you the love you need, but you do have to come to Him in faith in order to begin to receive it. May God grant you that trust and courage.


Related Material:

The Mother Love of God

Mother-Shaped Holes

I Need Jesus… for Everything!

I used to be able to do math. I won the department math award at my university and taught computer science at the college level, but that was 35 years ago (if I did the math right). Lately, I’m unsure whether I’ve left a 20% tip. Watching my mother struggle with the same declining ability show’s me it’s not going to get better. For a lot of people this wouldn’t be a big concern, but for me it’s the equivalent of texting an invitation to the wrong person or forgetting to zip my jeans.

I am so stupid! I can’t do anything right. Now people will pity me. These are some of the thoughts my inner critic can be overheard exclaiming as I pull out my phone to double a number and divide by ten. What embarrasses you? Toilet paper on your shoe? Tripped down the steps? Left your child at the gym? Not a person has ever been born who didn’t make mistakes (OK, there was One). We are limited creatures and fallible. It’s unreasonable and unloving to demand perfection of others – or of ourselves. But most of us do it.

I am thankful for a snippet from Brennan Manning I read some years ago for teaching me another way. (If I could find it, I would quote it.) He wrote that grace teaches us a new purpose for all our mistakes, those unintentional foibles which the Accuser likes to exploit. He said every blunder is a sweet reminder that we need Jesus. There isn’t one single thing we can ever do perfectly, and perfection is the standard for salvation (Matt. 5:48). To be reminded of our humble, fallen nature is to be reminded that we are not only forgiven for our sins but also completed for our imperfections in the righteous life Jesus lived on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 10:14).

Now I try to accept my bloopers with a smile and let them preach a different message to my heart. Lipstick a mess? Left my purse at the grocery store? It just means I need Jesus. And, hallelujah, He’s there. I always have needed Him, even when I thought I could be perfect on my own. Now in my growing confusion, I see more clearly than I ever have: I need Jesus for everything. Even math.


Related Material:

God Embraces the Embarrassed at Desiring God
God’s Will and Your Big, Stupid Mistakes by Lon Hetrick

Making 2018 a Year of Gratitude

I am one of the 8%. No, that’s not some new-fangled financial classification; it’s the percentage of people who keep their New Year’s resolutions according to Forbes Media. I haven’t kept every one perfectly, but I do prayerfully make them each year, and it’s amazing how much I’ve learned along the way. My resolutions run the gamut from not texting while driving to reading the Bible in a year to never defending myself (now, that’s an eye-opener). This year I’m making 2018 a year of gratitude.

By now you’ve certainly heard about the physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. But here’s one benefit that Psychology Today won’t be listing in their top seven: gratitude is worship. It is one of the primary ways we are to be reminded of and to relate to our loving God who gives us every good gift. Want to be more connected to the Lord? Let your needs drive you to Him and let your blessings draw you to Him

My pastor talked about resolutions this morning; that’s how I learned I’m in the 8%. And one thing he stressed was that making or keeping a New Year’s resolution doesn’t earn you anything; not favor or affirmation or forgiveness or salvation from God. In fact, it can become a stumbling block if you are making it for any of those reasons. Everything we do should be motivated by love – for God and man, including our attempts at self-improvement. If I look a little more like Jesus at the end of this experiment, if my spirit becomes a bit more thankful, that is my loving obedience and a sacrifice of praise.

I know I should be grateful for every breath I take, but as with anything that is continual, gratitude can become invisible, banal, even boring. Therefore, I’m going to keep a gratitude journal. There are many ways to do this, and I will let you Google them for yourself, but I’m going to keep one online that I share with a friend. I am also going to write a line or two every single day. I know myself, and those things will help me keep up.

Here are a few tips for you to consider as you think about the topic of resolutions.

  • Make your resolution simple. It should be able to be stated in one sentence and you are more likely to keep it if it doesn’t require major changes to your routines.
  • Make a commitment to your resolution. Make sure it’s something you believe in and really want to make a part of your life going forward.
  • Track your progress. Have some way of noting your success. Mark it on a calendar, keep a log, put a chart on your refrigerator.
  • Invite others to share your resolution. See? I’m taking my own advice. God gave us community for accountability and encouragement. Take advantage of that.
  • View your failures as part of your success. If you don’t keep your resolution perfectly, don’t quit! In fact, you haven’t really owned a new habit until you can fail and get back on track again.

We always pray for you, that our God may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:11-12)

To that end, if you are one of the 60% of Americans who doesn’t already have a New Year’s resolution, I invite you to join me in making 2018 a year of gratitude.


Related Material:

Keeping a Gratitude Journal (Crosswalk)

Ann Voskamp Audio on Gratitude

A Prayer of Gratitude by Scotty Smith