My Adult son recently came to my home. We had gourmet homemade pizza. We chatted about a range of topics, and he was happy to reminisce about his younger years. He stroked my big white cat and put my small dog on his lap. He stayed for a number of hours, and we enjoyed each other's company. As he left, he gave me a long, warm hug and told me that he loved me.
Nothing remarkable? Actually it was one of the most momentous days of my life.
He and I had been totally estranged for over five years. His hostility toward me had been so severe that he would not allow my other children to tell me his phone number or address. If I did happen to meet him at a function, he would barely make eye contact with me. Letters that I sent to him ended up in the rubbish bin.
At first, the grief I felt over this loss was intense. Tears would come to my eyes whenever I saw other children who resembled him. As he grew taller and filled out, he seemed like a stranger to me.
I knew the best solution was prayer. I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, and she shared many ideas and was very confident that this situation could be resolved.
I began a close study of forgiveness. Fundamentally, I had to start by forgiving myself for mistakes I felt I'd made. I had to stop condemning myself and reliving confrontations. Each day I prayed with these lines from a poem by Mary Baker Eddy: "His arm encircles me, and mine, and all" ("Poems," page 4). Modifying the words to be Her "arm encircles me, and mine, and all" made me feel closer to God as Mother, Love.
Further, I learned that forgiveness is our gift to the one who has wronged us. The greater the wrongs, the greater the gift. Forgiveness and justice are not the same. I did not have to wait for my son to be sorry in order to forgive him. Forgiveness and grace go hand in hand.
I visualized the sun radiating beams of light. The nearer to the source the sunbeams are, the closer together they become. I reasoned that as I drew closer to God, who is the Parent of all His children, I would naturally draw closer to my son.
Then I began studying biblical cases of reconciliation. For instance, the twin brothers Jacob and Esau had a total breakdown in their relationship. Jacob had wronged Esau, who decided to kill his brother as retribution. Jacob barely got away in time to save himself. Years later, Jacob returned to his homeland to face his brother. The night before returning, he endured a mighty mental struggle until he felt purified and was renamed Israel, the striver with God. The next day, "Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept." Jacob told Esau, "I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou was pleased with me" (Gen. 33:4, 10).
Jesus also recounted a tender story of redemption in the parable of the prodigal son. After claiming his inheritance, leaving home, and wasting all his money, the son decided to return home. His father must have been eagerly waiting for him every day. "When he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). No condemnation. No explanations. The son was restored immediately and completely to his former status.
Over the years, I learned a lot about patience and hope. People would say, "Time heals all ills," but I knew that time alone was powerless to heal any rift. I tried not to outline how the relationship would be mended. I developed strong, new friendships and practiced expressing enriching qualities such as openness, perseverance, and joy.
Then, in the most natural way, my son returned. No condemnation. No explanations. At a family wedding, he chatted with my friends and me. He came to my home afterward and chose to sit next to me on the couch. At a later party, he entered the room, walked straight over, and embraced me. Then he came home to have lunch. My heart was singing!
All the aggression, alienation, and blame were swept away as if the whole experience had been a dream.
Do you need to repair a relationship? It can be done.