Extending Grace
Francine Rivers, She Reads Featured Author

"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39 (NASB)

Over the past three years, I have looked time and again at a small picture of my mother and grandmother together before they were estranged. I dreamed of having my mother and grandmother sitting with me and talking over a cup of coffee while I worked on a novel about the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. Both women were strong Christians who served in their churches. Each of them had a heart for others. And yet, conflicting loyalties dug a chasm between them in their later years.

What caused the estrangement? Quite simply, Dad wanted to retire to Oregon where he and Mom would have a better and more affordable retirement. This meant selling their California property, and the cottage in which Grandma lived. Mom had promised Grandma she could always live with them, and Mom and Dad planned to build the house and then move Grandma up north to join them. In the meantime, Grandma would live in Merced with my aunt. Upon completion of the house, my parents extended the invitation to Grandma to move in with them. They had built the house for possible elder disability: wider halls and doorways, and lower kitchen counters to make it accessible if any of the three of them ended up in a wheelchair.
Grandma refused to come.

Though my parents made numerous trips south to visit her, Grandma never changed her mind. Nor did she ever travel north, not even to visit or see the beautiful home my parents had built. A few years later, Grandma had a stroke. Mom and Dad rushed to be at her side, but Grandma died before they could arrive. Mom grieved deeply. In tears, she said to me, "I think she willed herself to die just so we'd never be able to talk things out." Those words haunt me.

After my mother's death, my brother sorted through the family papers and boxes of pictures. We talked about Mom and Grandma's relationship. I told him how I wished they had worked things out and could have loved one another the way they did in the picture he had sent. My brother believed the picture indicated they had. My aunt, on the other hand, felt certain Grandma never forgave Mom.

I look at their faces now as I write this. I see how they leaned into one another. Their lips are relaxed and curved, their eyes shining. And I pray whatever grievances Grandma held so tightly, she relinquished in the end. God can work right up to our last breath. Of this I am certain: Grandma believed in Jesus. So did Mom. I hold to Jesus' promise that He would not lose a single one who belonged to Him.

Yet, having seen their earthly pain, I do not want to make the same mistakes with my daughter. I want to share my life with her, offer my experience and hope – and, above all, my faith in the God who will watch over and guide her, and fulfill the plan He has for her life. In order to encourage, I will say often, "I love you." "You are God's gift to me." "You are a daughter of the King of kings."

Dear Lord, I thank You for the mother and grandmother You gave me. I thank You for the lessons they taught me. You have a plan for each of us, Lord, and it is a plan to build up our faith and not tear us down. I love You, Father. I trust You. I rest in You. In the name of Your precious Son, Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Related Resources:
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Visit the She Reads blog today where we are giving away a variety of books by Francine Rivers including her newest novel, Her Mother's Hope, and her bestselling Mark of the Lion trilogy."

The Overwhelmed Woman's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents by Julie-Allyson Ieron

For more encouragement, visit our free resource Family Connection Rituals

Application Steps:
Have you shared your past experiences with your children?

What holds you back?

Do I need to make amends with anyone?

If making amends might in any way harm the person I have hurt, how else might I make amends?

Power Verses:
John 15:12, "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." (NASB)

Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (NASB)

1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins." (NASB)

© 2010 by Francine Rivers. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

No fair making me cry before 8 a.m.! As usual, this devotion touched me in my heart of hearts. I need to be reminded frequently to be "kind, tender-hearted, forgiving" toward my daughter, even during hectic home school days. Thank you for your faithfulness to share God's wisdom with women.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your story and reminder is most applicable to today as I pray for healing and reconciliation between my mother and her siblings. I too can look at pictures of happier time and loving fellowship. However, it seems as they grow older instead of growing closer there is more to bicker about and more time to remember past offenses. The thought that they will die without reconciling makes me sad.

I can't imagine being so angry or hurt with my siblings in my last years that we do not speak to one another! I am now more cognizant of the need to apologize to my siblings when I feel that I have offended them and to forgive them when I feel wronged. Additionally, I want to talk deeply with them about matters of the heart. I want to continue to share faith and love so that when we are older, we won't have past hurts to simmer over.

Blogger ~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

This is great! I shared it with a bunch of women from my FB friends list, even my own mother. Praise God!

Blogger Melinda said...

This touches so many bases in my life. I was brought up to be forgiving in all circumstances. The scrip "just as Christ has forgiven you"....was taught so lovingly by my parents, that I am one to be forgiving even when I have been cursed inside & out. I married a man who had so much love for me but who has difficulty forgiving. One who counts the offenses rather than seeing what grace is about. He no longer has a relationship with his mother & sisters. We are now struggling to have a marriage because of his unable to forgive. My prayer is that God will soften his hardened heart, especially for his mother. My heart is breaking because of our strained love but I know to trust in God and pray for hope.
Thank you for Proverbs 31, my heart is enriched each time I read the devotions. They are especially welcoming when they arrive at 3 am in the morning when my heart & soul is at a breaking point. God bless you........

Anonymous Tiffany said...

Thank you for this....I lost my mother last year very unexpectedly. She and my grandmother had not spoken for years before she died. Like you I tried to make them forgive and move on but both were so stubborn! I pray my Mom let go of her anger before she passed and I still pray that my grandmother will do the same. It is a good lesson and I will NEVER let this happen with my children and myself. Life is short...don't take anybody or anything for granted. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one sunk right into my heart, only it is a somewhat estranged relationship between my daughter and me. She has moved out, moved in with her boyfriend, and she says she is still a Christian. (I don't understand that.) She also says he is not, yet she still wants to marry him. She asked if we would come to the wedding. I simply told her that her dad and I would need to sit down with the both of them, so I didn't answer her. We still communicate on a regular basis, but it is surface talk. We are spiritually estranged. We don't see her for weeks at a time, and I can't bring myself to go to her apartment with him there. I love her dearly, but she doesn't want to hear anything about God. I have an excellent relationship with my mother and other daughter. This is simply heartbreaking. I also cried when I read this one, but it was 8p.m

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My prayer is that I will always be forgiving at all times. Dear Lord, defeat any grudges that I have been holding onto and that You have shown me today. I hold them up to You and ask You to take them away. Replace them with Your love, Your kindness, Your forgiveness. May all glory and honor be to You Who are My Lord, My God, my King. In the Name of our Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this devotion! The story has hit home! I dont ever want my mother and I to be estranged even though we have our disagreements. I have four children and I never want them to be estranged from me. I could not stand that! But God is a GREAT GOD! I praise Him for his new mercies everyday!

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