Angie Mabry-Nauta, Bieber, break-through conversation with my mother, healing conversations, I had given up on my mother, Justin Bieber, Mama Taboo, Mark 9: 21-24, Mother, mother wound, mother/daughter relationships, motherhood, Pattie Mallette
The father of a teenage boy possessed by a demon brought his son to Jesus for healing. “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 21b – 24, NLT)
The quip is much older than teenage phenom Justin Bieber, but it is irrevocably connected to him. His face wallpapers teen magazines; his voice croons on mp-3 players around the world; and millions of young girls chat about his on-again, off-again romantic relationship, wishing that Justin would just be single so that his heart could be theirs. He’s living the life most vocal artists only dream about.
It hasn’t always been this way.
Born to 17-year-old unmarried mother Pattie Mallette, the Canadian 19-year-old grew up in low-income housing. Mallette worked a series of low-paying office jobs, and raised Justin by herself. Justin’s maternal grandmother was also a prominent presence in his life. He taught himself to play piano, guitar, drums, and trumpet.
Ask any of the gazillions of peeps who have tried their chops on American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and similar international shows. The chances of making it to the recording and performing big time are S..L..I..M.
To his credit, Bieber knows of the statistical unlikelihood of his success. He didn’t have famous parents who are loaded with money and connections who put him on the “right” paths in front of the “right” people. Yes, he worked hard, and Mallette worked hard for him, as well. But, Bieber was discovered out of obscurity. He offers himself as an example, and tells his fans and anyone who will listen to “Never say never.”
My faith and relationship with God are the cornerstones of my life. I also struggle with doubt like everyone else.
Internal conflict stirring, I confess that I gave up on my mother.
I became convinced over a period of years. My own anxiety and years of counselors guiding me after hearing only my side of our mother/daughter story led the charge.
For the longest time I had hoped and prayed that she would change. Like Princess Merida in Disney’s movie Brave, I felt my destiny tied to my mother. I felt equally desperate and frustrated as the Scottish red-haired youngster, but I didn’t go so far as having a witch concoct a spell-laced cake for my mother to eat.
No, my possible happiness, I thought, lie only in Mom’s acknowledgement of my pain that she caused by not being there for me, an apology from her, and a huge embrace that only a mother can give to her child — one that lasts as long as I need for it to while I cry cathartically. (Yes, I recognize the all-about-me language.)
“I know that God is able,” I said to my counselor-du-jour. “So, I keep waiting and hoping for Mom to ‘wake up,’ and for everything to be fine between us.” My ongoing waiting and hoping and terrified refusal to approach Mom about my feelings impaired my healing, a toxic combination that didn’t help in the least. I feared that if I told her the truth — all of it — that she would abandon me for good for sure. And then, my life-long nightmare would come true. I would be unloved and alone. I couldn’t risk that happening, so I all-but-drowned in my pain and fear.
She’ll never hear me, I sobbed. She’ll never “get it.” She’ll never be able to hear, really hear, the depths of my mother wound. She’ll never see that I needed her love, time, and attention more than the stuff that the money that she earned bought.
For 10 years, each day went by offering no evidence to refute my assumptions. I became more and more convinced about the “neverness” of it all, and my vision of my mother as an emotionally unable and unaware person clarified with each passing 24-hour period.
Despite the hardening of my heart, I felt compelled to pray — to pray for Mom, to pray for myself, to pray for our relationship. I came to God regularly, saying, “I know you want me to pray, but I don’t know what to say. So, I’m just gonna sit here in your presence.” Sometimes, this is enough, as Paul says in Romans 8: 26-27.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And [God] who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Out of God’s own freedom, She (God, that is) moved mightily throughout those dark years. And in the wee hours of Saturday, June 1, 2013 God blasted the dividing wall that had stalwartly stood between my mother and me.
Mom asked questions. She listened. She heard me. She stayed put as I unleashed 42 years of pent-up muck. Tears. Memories of events that differed completely from hers. Accusations.
And then Mom apologized, and she held me as I cried and moaned like a beleaguered child.
As soon as I could get my breath, I apologized to Mom for giving her such a hard time for years on end, and for giving up on her.
If someone would have told me just a week ago that this would have happened, I would have not believed it. “It’ll never, ever happen,” would have been my answer.
Justin Bieber doesn’t know me or my mother, but I gather he would have said otherwise. Probably has something to do with the Christian faith in which Pattie Mallette raised him.
I don’t know why this breakthrough happened for my mother and me, and why it doesn’t happen for other people who bear the mother wound. As Job knows quite well, the freedom of God can be quite maddening from a human point of view.
I will muse on that in the days to come as God and I continue to work on my book idea.
For now, I marvel with thanksgiving and speak the eternal words of Job (42: 3b, 5) to both God and my mother.
I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did now know. … I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.