Finding my real Mother

Originally appeared online in the teen series: Trending - May 4, 2021. 

I was about to move out and start my first real job after college. This step was the fulfillment of a dream, and I was really looking forward to it. Yet my heart felt heavy as I packed.

My mom and I had just had another bitter argument—the latest during several rocky years in our relationship. These disagreements usually started over something small and then escalated into angry criticism of each other. Now it looked as though I’d be leaving home on bad terms with my mom. 

One stumbling block between us was my deepening faith in God. My mom had not grown up attending church and was inclined to view religion with skepticism. So, whenever I tried to share even a little about what I was learning in Christian Science, she would dismiss it impatiently. It hurt to have her belittle the thing that was most important to me.

It hurt to have my mom belittle the thing that was most important to me.

I so longed for a loving, supportive relationship with my mom and was trying hard to do my part, but it never seemed to be enough. In anguish, I turned to God for help. 

The thought that came to me next was totally unexpected: You can’t get blood from a turnip. I’d heard this saying before but had never thought about what it meant. At that moment, though, I realized it was God’s way of telling me that I was looking for love in the wrong place. 

It might seem that love comes to us from other people. But I’d been learning in Christian Science that “God is love” (I John 4:8). That God, divine Love, is the only real source of love. God, who is our true Father and Mother, is always pouring forth unlimited love to each of us—and nothing can stand in the way of our receiving it. And we, as God’s children, reflect the entire spectrum of Love’s qualities, including purity, tenderness, grace, respect, selflessness, kindness, and affection. 

Caring relationships with others are the expression of divine Love, not the source. When we get things backward and look to other people to supply the love we long for, the result can be pretty frustrating—like trying to get blood from a turnip. 

Once I saw this, I stopped expecting my mom to meet a need that only infinite Love could fill. Trusting that God was mothering us both, I no longer worried about whether my mom was meeting my expectations, or I hers. I knew that each of us would be satisfied by Love. 

I continued packing with a lighter heart, and by the time I left a few days later, my mom and I were on better terms. This was a welcome relief, and I was grateful. But it wasn’t the end of the story. What unfolded over the next few months far surpassed anything I could have imagined. 

When I started my new job, I discovered that my supervisor was a woman fifteen years older than I. She took me under her wing and became a kind and supportive mentor as well as a close friend. A shining expression of God’s mothering love, she taught me so much about humility, generosity, and nurturing care for others. And because she was a divorced mother with two children, I also learned a lot from her about the challenges of being a single parent. This gave me both a better understanding of my mom’s point of view and more compassion for her.

Meanwhile, my mom was forming close friendships with two young women in her office, one of whom was a devoted Christian. What she learned about their lives gave her a fresh perspective on the hopes and challenges of women my age. She was even interested in hearing how her young Christian friend prayed about the things going on in her life. This gave my mom a new appreciation of the value of faith in God. Her attitude toward Christianity began to soften.

Over the next few years, my mom and I grew closer. With more respect for each other and less tendency to criticize, we communicated more often and expressed genuine affection. No longer trying to get something from the relationship, we got together regularly just to enjoy each other’s company. Eventually we became the best of friends—and I finally had the loving, supportive relationship with my mom that I had yearned for. 

God’s mothering love really is there for all of us. It might be expressed in the form of a caring friend, a supportive teacher or coach, or a kind church member. But whatever our need, we can trust that it will be met if we start by looking for love in the right place—in God, our real Mother.

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