“The ancient societies believed that a boy becomes a man only through ritual and effort – only through the active intervention of the older men. The father or another man must actively intervene, and the mother must let go. In one tribe, the men take the boy away for initiation and when he returns, the boy’s mother pretends not to know him. She asks to be introduced to “the young man”. That is a beautiful picture of how a mother can cooperate in her son’s passage to the father’s world. If she does not, things get very messy later – especially in marriage. The boy develops a bond with his mother that is like emotional incest. His loyalties are divided. That is why scripture says, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife.”
Sometimes when the mother clings, the boy will try to tear himself away, violently. This typically comes in the teenage years and often involves some ugly behavior, maybe some foul words on the part of the young man. She feels rejected, and he feels guilty, but he knows he must get away. This was my story, and my relationship with my mother has never been good since. I’ve found that many, many adult men resent their mothers but cannot say why. They simply know they do not want to be close to them; they rarely call. As my friend Dave confessed, “I hate calling my mom. She always says something like, ‘It’s so good to hear your little voice.’ I’m 25 and she still wants to call me her little lamb.” Somehow he senses that proximity to his mother endangers his masculine journey, as though he might be sucked back in. It is an irrational fear, but it reveals that both essential ingredients in his passage were missing; Mom did not let go, and Dad did not take him away.” Wild at Heart Chapter 4
What about you? Has mom let go? Does she (or did she) affirm you in your transition to adulthood? Or did every Christmas and Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day leave you with a feeling of guilt because you weren’t there enough for her? Did she compete with your wife and try to interject herself in your marriage? Did she allow you to “leave and cleave”?
Our mothers are not perfect beings. It’s amazing how we believe they should be, they must be. I see this in my own daughters (22 and 19) with my wife. Shannon is there to always be “on”, always be available and there is very little grace for any imperfection she might show. My girls seemingly cannot see Shannon as being human with her own disappointments, hurts and hang-ups.
Mom’s have it pretty tough when you think about it. They must always be perfect and heaven forbid they ever disappoint or hurt or don’t come through. We all tend to keep a pretty long list of all the many ways she has disappointed us.
They aren’t perfect. Many of them have deep wounding of their own. Some raise five kids and work long hours outside the home and cook, clean, be a wife, be a coach, be a tutor, be a…
What we saw and heard from men this morning was an awakening to some grace to let Mom go. Some grace to forgive and appreciate, while imperfect, she gave all she could muster day after day, heartache after heartache.
The point of the wound isn’t to make villains of our Dad or our Mom or our brother. The point of the wound isn’t to heap all blame for all my short-comings at the feet of my Mom or Dad. Again, they were imperfect people to start with. No, the point is to find those wounds and see the agreements we’ve made with the wounds and how those agreements have shaped our lives. The point is to invite Jesus into those wounds to hear what He has to say to us in our brokenness. To hear what He says as our Father and yes, as our Mother. The point is to finally forgive Mom and Dad and let go of the hurts to extend grace to them like Jesus did to us.
Here is Stasi Eldredge’s talk. I encourage you to watch…