We painted the room pale purple, her favorite color. A white lace curtain framed the window overlooking our busy backyard, and our wide-open door of welcome signaled a new beginning for my mum.
She would be safe.
We would know that she was eating three times a day.
And maybe this would be the setting in which she and I would find common ground. That was my hope, anyway, and echoes of that liminal season came to mind as I read Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters.
Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh are a mother/daughter team, and they take turns sharing the path they have walked together — and their own hopes for a healthy relationship that spans generations. The good news they offer is that no matter where your mother/daughter relationship has been, the path leading forward can encompass hopeful rebuilding, restoration, and repair.
“And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58:12)
God is in the business of mending broken hearts and broken relationships, so Blythe and Helen invite readers into His neutral territory in hope that sharing individual thoughts and desires will lead to standing on common ground together.
We Can Only Do What We Can Do
- Put the relationship ahead of differences. Does it really matter how the dishwasher is loaded? Is it necessary that you see eye-to-eye on every point in order to enjoy one another?
- Speak positive, concrete relational words. One of Helen’s strengths is the framing of words into what-to-say-when-you-don’t-know-what-to-say. Her sayings appeared in bold print in the book, and I can picture them saving the day. For example:
“What I want is a good relationship, and you are more important to me than this problem/this difference of opinion/this snag.” (41)
“Would you and your spouse be willing to share with me what you need to hear from me–or what I need to do–for us to be restored? I wish to clear up any offenses on my part.” (46)
- Own responsibility for your part of the damage. Ask God to open your eyes, to give you creativity and unselfishness in your response. Try to assume the best of each other.
- Beware of over-love. “Over-love” is “a subtle form of control.” (139) Based in fear, it over-protects and over-expects, all in an attempt to get one’s own needs met through its object.
Moving Forward, by Grace
An honest picture of patterns from the past is necessary for building a healthy future. As a mother, Helen shared transparently that “every difficulty [she] had with [her] mom helped in countless ways in her relationship with Blythe.” (39) This was possible because she looked squarely at the unhealthy behavior that created land mines in her own childhood and determined to make new generational patterns going forward.
The beautiful string that holds together these pearls of wisdom is the story of Helen and Blythe’s walking hand-in-hand through lymphoma, and Helen’s gradual recovery. There was real strength in the hard places as Blythe came alongside her mum to comfort and encourage–and found their love for one another deepened in the process.
It’s ironic, in a way, for me to be reviewing a book about strong mother/daughter relationships. The haze of disappointment still lingers over my own experience, but even in this there is grace, because broken ground can become a meeting place where hearts are mended. My children and grandchildren are God’s gift to me, a “yes” from the One who makes all things new–an affirmation that no matter where we’ve been, in the process of rebuilding, restoration, and repair, we can find ourselves standing, by grace, on common ground.
Many thanks to Harvest House Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
And there’s a give away. . .
You’ll be happy to know that the publisher has provided a copy of Mended for me to share! Just leave a comment below to enter. (U.S. addresses only–sorry!) Entries will close at midnight on Saturday, May 4th. This time, because she’s old enough now, and because this book is about girl stuff, the adorable granddaughter will draw the name of a winner on Sunday, May 5th.
With thanks to Jesus for His offering of hope and healing,
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