This Easter I was asked to share my thoughts on the final words that Christ spoke to Mary while dying on the cross. This challenged me because I didn’t understand why Jesus called His mother “dear woman.” I know He was fully God, but wouldn’t His fully-human-side long for His “mom” in a time of such excruciating pain? While I don’t claim to be a Biblical scholar, I do feel that after spending two weeks digging into the scriptures I found something very powerful and encouraging and I am excited to share it with you.
John 19:26, 27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
I am amazed that Jesus wasn’t focused on His rejection, betrayal or beating. He was caring for His mom. And I don’t believe it was only about her elder-care. His words show that He also felt His mom’s anguish over His suffering.
When a child hurts–no matter their age, no matter the cause–the mom hurts.
I believe Jesus addressed his mother as “dear woman” because He wanted her to know that she was not just His mom, that she had more to do and that she would find healing in helping others and allowing them to help her.
When I lost Rebecca, I learned not to waist my pain, but to let it drive me to help others. But I didn’t have the confidence to let my children live their own lives until one of them got caught in the trap of addiction.
Jesus choose to suffer His brutal death in order to set mankind free from the punishment we deserve. My son’s cross was his choice, too, but it didn’t set anyone free. In fact, I was held captive to some strong emotional, physical and spiritual bondage myself just wanting to make things good again. Children are an extension of our hearts and we tend to handle their hurts like we do our own:
- Classics are prone to research the problem and initiate a solution without intimidation.
- Naturals are more apt to sympathize with the issue and be laid back about the problem.
- Ingénues may not seem very assertive but their compassionate way of dealing with difficulty is usually wise and tenacious.
- Gamines take charge when crisis hits, which can be very affective–except when it is not.
- But Romantics and us Dramatics are more apt to become consumed with issues that affect our heart. We feel things deeply and deal with them privately. Romantics must be careful not to completely shut down, while Dramatics may shut down internally but never slow down on the outside. Ironically, our “drive” often makes us appear phony or insensitive.
During my son’s addiction, I didn’t stop doing, I just stop feeling. Or at least I tried. I didn’t want to believe it. And honestly it was really hard to find the problem and until I was sure of the drugs. I didn’t want to make such a strong accusation without proof, so I stuffed my fears and tried to be optimistic.
But I was consumed with the issues in my mind and my body language showed it.
I was consumed by the choices my adult child was making and it was not pretty. I wish I had understood then what Jesus revealed to Mary on that cross. Because once I learned to “love him and let him go” I found peace. And the fuel was taken out of the fire that was causing so many emotional, physical and spiritual problems in me. I was empowered to BE a better mom to all my kids because I LET them BE themselves.
We need each other, but we are not each other.
Getting to that point was a lot like the transition in labor, but I learned that unless I pushed through the pain and made some better choices myself, neither he nor I would ever be able to truly live our separate lives.
But when I did, the aggressive manipulation stopped abruptly. I remember the moment vividly. I interrupted my son’s angry words with a simple statement, “that doesn’t work with me any more. I let go of trying to hide, correct or control your choices; they are yours. I do not take responsibility for them and they do not change my love for you.”
I’m happy to say that it wasn’t long after my letting go emotionally that my son also found freedom. He is now clean because if his own choices, not because of anything forced on him and I believe that has far superior strength than anything I could have fixed. There are a lot of traps set for our kids that we cannot control, but our greatest role in their lives is in praying that God will guide them.
If you are experiencing the pain of letting go of an adult child, I encourage you to consider if Christ’s final words to Mary might sound something like this to you (like it does to me):
“Dear woman, you are more than a mom. Keep pursuing your purpose. Don’t let your adult child’s choices discourage you. Keep loving him, but you have done what was required of you in rearing him, now trust Me to guide him the rest of the way. No one replaces him, and no one can replace you in his life, but you are not required to fix anyone. His mission is separate from yours. I will work this to his good; and yours. Find your healing in serving those that you can, praying for those you cannot and in letting others serve you.”
Catrina Welch is an inspirational author and speaker whose personal experience with rejection, betrayal and loss–as well as her expertise as a cosmetologist, image consultant and Biblical life-coach–is empowering women to BE and LET BE.
Her latest book, CONFIDENT BEAUTY: Reflecting the One Who Made You, with the Images in your Mirror and in your Soul, is now available in your favorite bookstores. Autographed copies of all her books are available on her website at www.CatrinaWelch.com