I met Laura at Laity Lodge in Texas, just a few years ago. We walked together on the dusty roads there, and we worshiped together in the great lodge. One night, beneath a velvet sky, generously scattered with stars that looked like diamonds, Laura and I, along with Laura’s friend Vea, leaned against a white Chevy Suburban and together we sang, “How Great Thou Art.” I have roomed with Laura at Jubliee in Pittsburgh, and we have laughed together about a funny incident that reminded us of old-time stories about the Rapture (I hope that’s not sacrilegous; it isn’t meant to be). Laura is helping us rediscover the lost art of play, and the fascinating way play ushers us right up to the feet of God. God was on the playground first, you know; just waiting for us to join him there. It’s an honor to welcome Laura here today, in celebration of the release of her new book, Playdates With God.
On the day before my mother’s birthday I call her to tell her about the book I’ve written, my first work of nonfiction.
“It was just released last week,” I say. “And mom? I’ve done a couple interviews, and…well, people want to know about my childhood.”
She is quiet on the other end. This is a tender place for us. I’ve hurt her before in the telling of our story. In the trying to find a new way, I’ve questioned and judged the past; I’ve questioned and judged her. And there’s been a lot of water pass under the bridge for us to come to this place of calm.
“I’ve tried to be careful what I say,” I push on. “But sometimes words just come and there’s no putting them back in afterward.”
Only a slight pause and then, “Tell me what your book is about.”
I tell her about the book and she tells me how my nephews are and before we hang up she says, “Don’t worry. I won’t be offended.”
All my life I’ve been afraid I’m too much like my mother—afraid of the choices I might make, afraid of losing control of all this passion inside of me. Our story has not always been a happy one. I haven’t wanted to make the same mistakes.
It hasn’t been until the past few years that I’ve realized how little I understand about the choices my mother made. It’s easy to question and judge when I sit in a comfortable place, a happy place. But just coming out of a difficult season in my own marriage has taught me this: By the grace of God.
How many times did I want to run away? How hard it was, not only to stay, but to hold on to joy in the midst of the struggle. And with each shadow-thought came a kindred with my mother, knowing some small bit of the despair she must have suffered.
I thought that my relationship with my mother was healed. I thought I had forgiven the past. Who knew God would use a dark season in my life to open my eyes to the ways I needed to ask for forgiveness?
And this one thing—so small, yet so big—changed everything. Only God can create new out of the worn and weary. And He wanted more than a patching over my relationship with my mom. He wanted deep, rich, love for us.
I won’t make the same mistakes my mother made. No, I’ll make my very own. Because I’m going to mess up.
And for this there is grace. Grace like my mother’s voice on the telephone telling me she loves me. Grace like my children forgiving me when I mess up.
I’m a lot like my mother. But I’m learning to be like my Heavenly Parent too. In the mean time, thank God for grace.
If you’ve been wondering how to get your hands on a copy of Laura’s new book, today might just be your lucky day! I’ve got one free copy to give away. If you’d like to throw your name in the hat, please leave a comment below, answering these questions: What has been your experience of forgiveness? How has forgiveness enriched your experience of love?
Author of the newly-released Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World, Laura Boggess lives in a little valley in West Virginia with her husband and two sons. She is a content editor for TheHighCalling.org and blogs at lauraboggess.com. Connect with Laura on Facebook and Twitter.
May the Lord reveal when and how our hard-earned stories are best told. So much love to you, and to Deidra.
Thank you, Brandee. A very fitting prayer, indeed 🙂
So much wisdom in this.
So grateful to have read “Playdates With God” as it is beautiful & truly invites us to meet with God & see Him in our days. We do mess up, every one of us. And I am so grateful for His grace & mercy which cleaned up the mess after me, changing me in the midst of the mess & for staying with me through it all. So glad you shared this precious post & the book! Blessings!
Thank you, Joanne. I’m so grateful for all who have read and are sharing the ways the book has impacted them. I re-read it this week in preparation for an interview and God keeps speaking to me through these words too. Thank you for stopping in and sharing!
oh this is so beautiful. rich with depth. your writing stirs the hearts of many and God will bless you through this ‘obedient’ walk of yours. Know I am praying for you my ‘long time’ on line friend.
Thank you, Sharon. You are so kind. I feel I have already been blessed by the depth of love He has washed over me. Thank you for your prayers. Much love.
forgiveness is usually a long winding path, filled with pitfalls and detours … but there is that hope. that call. that necessity.
and from our obedience comes a freedom that we didn’t quite expect.
Yes, Linda–freedom. That’s a fitting word. I love how God surprises, too. I wasn’t expecting this to happen–indeed, did not think it necessary. See how narrow my vision is? But God. And thank God.
Experience with forgiveness? Choosing to forgive brought healing to my marriage. Forgiveness saved our marriage. Loving despite the fact that we both mess up often has changed our love for one another. I’m just undone by God’s love for us and how when we choose to love with His kind of love it really does change lives. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Laura’s book and look forward to reading. Blessings.
Amen, Beth. I am constantly undone by his goodness. Saying a praise for how he uses it all, for the healing of your marriage and the beauty in forgiveness.
Sandra Heska King
I just heart you. Both of you. That is all.
Heart you back 🙂
The depth of love is really only found in the breaking through the offenses and forgiving, isn’t it? Such a beautiful tender moment you shared with us. Thanks you Laura and thank your mom. I am still trying to get my name drawn for this one and that you Deidra for offering us a chance to do just that.
My little mind is constantly being stretched by the things God uses to make me more like him. Thank you for your compassion, kelly. I do hope your name gets drawn soon!
Forgiveness – WOW – Growing up in such a dysfunctional, abusive home, and becoming the “mom” at age 12 prompted me to spend most of my life taking care of others – everyone and anyone, except myself. Fast forward to age 67 and a born again Christian for 6 years now. The first step was to learn how to forgive myself through the love of Christ; then I was able to forgive those dear to me. How freeing an experience not to carry all that weight any longer. I lost my mom 3 years ago at the age of 94 but was blessed to be able to ask forgiveness and mend many hurts from the past.
However the greatest blessing was watching her come to know our Savior in the last 9 months of her life. PRAISE HIM!
What a beautiful testimony, Dusty. I read your words and praise God that He always pursues, always waits, never leaves. Yes, indeed. Praise Him.
This causes me to reflect on my relationships with my daughters. We have experienced healing from hurtful places yet I wonder if God wants me to go further in a richer and deeper place……… I keep typing and erasing. Must have lots to listen to the Holy Spirit today about this subject.
This is one thing God keeps teaching me: He is never done refining me. In my relationships, in my work, in my faith-walk…there is always room to go deeper. Isn’t this a beautiful thing? Always moving closer to the image of Christ.
I’m not a person to hold grudges. However, forgiving myself for past experiences has been a long, hard road. I’m still working on it.
I understand this, Barbie. Bless you as you do this hard work.
In my experience, the practice of forgiveness has been more of a lengthy process than a quick button, more about an ongoing transformation in myself than the finished state of someone else. Those times when I’ve been most hurt have led me down a long road of f-words (function and feel, flowers and forgive). Each f-word is a verb and an action, except for one: flowers. And I think that’s how Grace works. It just is, regardless of how awkward or out of place it looks in my long list of hurts and pains. It stands out. Because Grace has already made beauty out of the ugly, foul-smelling stuff.
I remember a friend who encouraged me to keep myself afloat by my making the decision to function and to feel through my pain (though I seemed capable of doing only one at a time, in the very beginning). But then one night I caught the scent of a blooming honeysuckle vine. I just drowned. That experience of Grace — whether it be a discovery or a reminder — is what enriches my love. It’s what enables me to swim back to the one who has hurt me.
I’m always thankful for Laura’s words. They smell like honeysuckle.
Matthew, your words brought tears. This is such a beautiful way to see forgiveness. It touched a soft spot. When my mother and I were deep into the season of not speaking to one another, I felt God prompting me to send her flowers. Out of the blue. So I did and it opened the door for healing in our relationship. Thank you, friend, for these words.
My experience with forgiveness has been that there is no true peace without it, and rather than it happening in one fell swoop it occurs in increments over time.
Yes! This rings so true to me, Susan. And in this case? It was a surprise. I had no idea what was needed. It was like a two-tier kind of thing. Even deeper forgiveness. If that is even possible! But yes, true peace.
Forgiveness is becoming a more constant place to turn to as I seek healing for myself and renewal in my relationships. There is deep beauty in trusting our Heavenly Father with all of our “stuff”. And forgiveness as a daily act of faith is the key.
A daily act. Beautiful, Ingrid. I’m going to carry this with me today.
When I was in college, I saw a sign that said “People need forgiving the most when they deserve it the least.” (At least that’s what I remember it saying….it was a long time ago!) What I’ve learned about forgiveness is that God’s grace is so present in that moment when forgiveness takes place. Also, forgiveness frees US from the hurt and resentment we may be harboring….but again, it’s only possible through the grace provided us by the Lord. My experience with love following forgiveness has been that the greater the hurt or offense needing to be forgiven, the greater the healing, and the greater the love that follows.
I love how you say that, Amy: God’s grace is so present in the moment of forgiveness. This is true peace, isn’t it? Beautiful.
I love your story… beautiful… I wonder if the only path to forgiveness is paved by our own brokenness… where we see the huge log… for me a tree trunk…and then the underserved Grace from God could break me in a million pieces… and it’s grace that can heal the broken relationships… my dad kicked me out of the house when I came to Jesus… we had plenty of issues before that… now He is getting ready to turn 90… and we are finishing better than I could ever had dreamt of… my best imagination for our relationship pales to what God’s love and grace has done… I pray the same for you and your mom!!!
Oh, Ro. I remember reading parts of your story. Isn’t God good? To redeem such a place? I’m so glad to know you and your dad are reconciled. Thank you for your prayers. Much love.
I have been learning and realizing lately that I don’t know how deeply I truly forgive (or don’t) THAT person(s) until I have to speak about them to someone who doesn’t know the grievance or until my life again intersects with theirs in some meaningful way, forcing me to decide on what footing to (re)start out.
And also I have been thinking about this.. “I can forgive you, but I don’t have to trust you.”
That is a good statement to meditate one, RJ. I think we sometimes fear that forgiving will make us a doormat when we’ve been mistreated. But it is more for us than the one who has wronged us, isn’t it? And God can redeem those hurt feelings in ways we can never imagine. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
I love Laura’s stories…so honest and real. I had an incident with forgiveness this week that began when I realised that although I thought I had forgiven someone, in fact it was still bothering me and I took out my frustration on an innocent colleague this week, then realised I needed to talk with God and get His help to truly forgive. I asked for His help, and the next morning in my reading, I read that when we have truly forgiven it is as though the incident never happened. When I saw the person who needed forgiving later this week there was no ill-feeling at all….and I thanked God for His timely wisdom.
Mary, New Zealand
Thank you, Mary, for your kind words and for sharing this story. I think if am truly aware of all the times I need to ask forgiveness, it would leave me on my face indefinitely! I’m grateful for the times God brings it to light and deals with me gently.
Oh, Laura this is so, so lovely! And I am so happy your connection to your mom has become sturdier.
That Laura! She’s the real deal.
Forgiveness is tricky. What I struggle with most is forgiving myself, and that in turn makes me unforgiving of others. But I have some others in my life who use the offer of forgiveness as an excuse to hurt me again. That’s very confusing, from a Christian standpoint.
Lynn D. Morrissey
Such a beautiful, tender, and vulnerable telling of your relationship with your mother, Laura. Sometimes, I thnk it must be difficult being related to an author, because your story might end up in print somewhere. Yet, the stories we’re in, shared with others, are our stories too. You walk such a delicate line in owning it, and yet, in trying not to hurt someone. It sounds as if your mother and you have reached a very special understanding, bathed in love, grace, and forgiveness. And you, yourself, are so vulnerable and kind here. I think what has best helped me in understanding so many relationships, including mine to my heavenly Father, is to have become a mother, myself. You just see the world differently, and you know you need His grace just to breathe. Thank you for breathing grace with every word you exhale. You are so special, Laura, and a huge thank you for Deidra and her her grace-filled generosity in how she shares her space in this world. Her platform continues to stretch, like wide-open arms, to others.