April 30, 2012

Regrets and Redemption (another post about love)

This is one of the last times I saw my mom for any extended period of time.  Freshman year at BYU, she came out to visit.  I wish I could remember more of what we did together.  But I remember she was happy and proud to see my life at school.  It's hard to say who was more excited for me to go away to college - she simply gushed about it all the time.

It's been 8 years since this photo was taken.  So much changed for both of us in that time.  I ache to go back and spend just one carefree day wandering campus and letting her know all about me.  Just being together.  Just letting her in.

I wish I could have let her in more.

It's a thought I struggle with a lot these days.  When you have a loved one who struggles with addiction, you make boundaries and you fret night and day about whether or not you are doing the right thing.  I spent so much time guarding my heart and my emotions around her.  In many ways I shut her out to protect myself.  That's probably the worst pain of all - knowing how much she longed to mother me, and knowing how little I let her. 

I did the best I could with what I had.  And so did she.  There are feelings and experiences surrounding her death that are too sacred to share.  And it is in these moments that I have truly felt redemption.  There are things which do not need to be said between she and I.  Apologies that do not need to be made.  All is understood between our hearts. 

But sometimes it still hurts to remember the way things were.
And to wonder what I could have done differently.

If I regret one thing, it is that I wasted so much time worrying and being disappointed.  I regret ever making her feel she needed to apologize.  I wish I would have just loved her without condition, without expectation. 

Just love her.

In every interaction, let her know how much she means to me.  No lecturing, no hurt feelings, no apologies - just love.  Look her right in the eyes and tell her that she's loved, that she's worthy of love, that He loves her more than she could ever know.  That she could never do anything to change that love.

Tell myself everyday that it doesn't matter what she does.
Look for who she is.
She is beautiful.  She is kind.  She is hurt.  She is His.

Stop my judgement in its tracks.
She's a sinner?
So am I.
She falls short?
So do I.
It is the same love that redeems us both.

The inspiration comes back to me again and again in a million different ways.  Whether it's my mother, my children, myself.  Just love them.  Always err on the side of love.  Remember the love that saves you from all your fallen ways.  The love that you did nothing to earn; that you could never repay. 

I will hold fast to this truth and carry it with me always.  I will learn to love and pray that she will help me.  In life and in death she continues to teaches me the greatest lessons of love.

Thank you, Mom.


  1. Thanks Whitney, your perspective teaches and edifies me so much.

  2. Beautiful words Whitney, thank you for sharing.

  3. It really is all about love. Thanks for the reminder. It's easy to forget, but I love that you said to always err on the side of love. I think I need that hanging on my wall or in my car.

  4. Thanks for teaching me. :)

  5. Couldn't agree more with Karens comment!

    Whit, I love you! <3

  6. Beautiful. I remember Pres. Monson also reminding us that we will never regret being a little too kind. Thanks for the sweet reminder to "always err on the side of love."

  7. You do your best with your limited mortal perspectives. Everyone has regrets and I'm glad you have found peace with yours. I agree with Deb that we will never regret showing love.

  8. I am pretty sure I could say this about your entire blog, but I really loved and needed this post. When you talk about not dwelling on what she did, but who she is, gosh, I really, really needed to hear that and remember that for something I am dealing with in my life. Thank you Whitney.

  9. Your insights are beautifully put and so profound. Thank you for taking the time to organize and record your thoughts and feelings. Your words help all of us who are walking similar paths and feeling similar things! Much love to you!

  10. Thank you for your words Whitney. That was something I really needed to hear right now as I am going through some difficult things with my mom. I just wanted to let you know that from the moment I met you, you have always been such an example and inspiration to me. If there is anything that Paul and I can do for you and your family, please let us know. -Addie

  11. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this particular post or if you will ever see this particular comment but I feel like it was written for me. You said "I wish I could have let her in more." This is my mother and I in a nutshell. We have struggled for years and I'm finally beginning to want to work things out with her. I love that you said it doesn't matter what she does, look for who she is. Such a personal message to me from the Lord. You really do have a gift with words. I remember seeing that your mother died a few months ago but never got a chance to tell you how sorry I was for your loss. I haven't read your blog very often but just wanted to let you know how wonderful of a person I think you are. Your posts are so eloquently written and your daughters are a beyond beautiful Just wanted to say thank you. And also, never forget that the Lord is there for you. He loves you and thinks you are a beautiful mother and person as well, I am sure of it. Even if we don't talk for a few years in between, know that I always considered you such a nice person and good friend. I read your big "d" post just before this one and really hope things start to get better for you. May the Lord always be with you. -Kathryn