Love + Forgiveness = Relationship Repair

My mom and me

From the beginning, my mom and my wife were at odds with each other, and neither had any qualms about offering her opinion. I often felt caught in the middle. The conflict finally reached critical mass after I had a particularly bitter argument with my mom. I smugly wrote her a letter telling her she would no longer be in my life, and felt completely justified in sending it. What a clueless, self-righteous dolt I was! My dad told me later that my mom cried when she read the letter and had trouble sleeping for days afterward.

It didn’t take long for my mom and me to start talking again, but something important was missing. She had doted on me from the day I was born and we had always had a wonderful, loving relationship. But there was now a distance between us. I even stopped telling her I loved her because I couldn’t pretend that the purity of our relationship had been restored.

I don’t remember how long the rift between us lasted. It may have been months, but it seemed like years. Over time, it gradually dissipated until one day there was no longer any resentment or bruised feelings. We both had awakened to the understanding that love is what matters most. We also understood that we had both acted very foolishly.

My mom traces her wake-up call to the day a friend of hers explained the tradition of Yom Kippur, a day of atonement in Judaism that follows a ten-day period of reflection, repentance, and reconciliation. Realizing that her constant criticism was poisoning our relationship, my mom decided she would stop judging us and allow us to live our lives as we saw fit. The moment she committed to that decision, she felt an enormous burden lift. More importantly, her heart was at peace.

Writing that letter to my mom is the greatest regret of my life. Now that my daughter is grown, I can’t begin to imagine the excruciating heartache I would feel if I received such a letter from her. If anything could destroy me, that would be it. I recently told my mom that I still felt anguish about putting her through such torment. She waved off my concern with a loving smile. We were both wrong, she said, but none of that mattered anymore.

I can no longer remember what feeling angry at my mom felt like. The power of unconditional love vaporizes any and all non-loving feelings as if they had never existed. I can attest that pure, loving forgiveness washes away every last trace of hurt.

My mom and I aren’t the only ones who experienced the healing balm of forgiveness. My now ex-wife feels nothing but love and affection for my mom. We’ve been divorced for more than sixteen years but we all still get together for the holidays when we can and consider ourselves one big happy family. Indeed, that is exactly what we are.

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2 Responses to “Love + Forgiveness = Relationship Repair”

  1. charlene trevino Says:

    I love the wonderful people and grains of knowledge and wisdom I have been blessed to find online. It is wonderful that you have been open to growth in your life. You know that we become like the people and thoughts we choose to associate with. Scripture and our own friendships bear this out. Communication and respect are vital as well. does not always have to be verbal either as you know. You have a wonderful mom there and a wise dad as well.

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thank you for the kind words, Charlene. And welcome to my blog!

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