When Mother Love Fails


Something came across my desk today that caused me to think about how motherlove can fail. No, I am not talking about mothers abusing or deserting or being indifferent to their offspring. We know that in the tragedy called human life in a fallen world, such things will inevitably happen. Thankfully, I believe there are many, many more women who do not do these things than who do.

No, the kind of failure I'm talking about is when mothers love too much, when they love without boundaries or perspective. And that can be a true failure, and cause real harm, also.

What caused me to ruminate on this topic today was the unveiling of a letter that Brian Laundrie's mother sent to him months before he killed his girlfriend and then later committed suicide. She was apparently trying to heal a rift in their relationship. And here is what she wrote him--writing on the envelope that he should burn the letter after he read it:

"I just want you to remember I will always Love you and I know you will always Love me. You are my boy. Nothing can make me stop loving you, nothing will or could ever divide us. No matter what we do, or where we go or what we say- we will always Love each other. If youíre in jail I will bake a cake with a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags.If you fly to the moon, I will be watching the skies for your re-entry. If you say you hate my guts, Iíll get new guts. Remember that love is a verb not a noun. It's not a thing, its not words it is actions. Watch people's actions to know if they love you not their words. Therefore I am certain that neither death nor Life, nor angels nor the ruling spirits, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers from above, nor powers from below, nothing in the entire created world can separate our love. Neither hostile powers nor messengers of heaven nor monarchs of earth. Nothing has the power to separate us. Romans 8:38 (extended version!) (Nothing can separate us: "not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not threats, not even sin, not the thinkable or unthinkable can get between us.) Not time. Not miles and miles and miles."

Maybe she was in great pain when she wrote this, but this is a big motherlove fail right here. And I know, because when I was young and stupid, I thought this way, too. The power that seizes a normal mother is a strong and divinely-given power. It was given so that life would continue to exist on the planet--because if mothers did not love their babies to an insane level, babies would have very little chance of surviving.

But the same can be said of men's sex drive. The power that seizes a normal man is a strong and divinely-given power. It was given so that life would continue to exist on the planet--because if men did not have a strong sex drive, no babies would be conceived.

But we all know that an unbanked male sex drive is utterly destructive of human society. And I contend that an unbanked female motherlove is utterly destructive of human society.

What's missing is the First Great Commandment, to love God above all, which means that a man's sex drive and a woman's motherlove must exist within the bounds the Lord has set or they are sinful and destructive.

If your son is rightly in jail, why would you give him a file? If your son has killed someone (as her son ended up doing), why in heaven's name would you offer to help bury the body and thus conceal the crime? If your son hates your guts, why would you get new guts? Would you change all your values just so he would like you better? That's pathetic.

While your love for your child is eternal, it is not loving your child to help him break the law, conceal his crimes, or to change everything you stand for so he will love you. While your love is still very much there, there are plenty of things that can separate you--and one of those is sin. If your child sins, that will separate you. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. To offer to leap into hell after your child--not in order to pull them out, but in order to join them there--is not motherlove in my book. At all. It is evil. It is destructive. It makes a pagan idol of your child, destroying them while also destroying you.

I have seen this play out in numerous ways. I have seen mothers with firm testimonies follow their children out of the Church so that there will be no separation. I have seen mothers consent to the mutilation and sterilization of their children so their children won't hate them or leave them. I have seen mothers shed every last ounce of respect for God and respect for themselves in order to preserve a relationship with a child.

This is a perversion of everything motherlove should stand for. A mother's love is like God's love--the love God has for each of us can never be extinguished, but God is willing to be separated from His children who embrace darkness. God is not going to lay down Truth and His loyalty to it to follow his rebellious children into outer darkness. And that is the only reason there can be a God and a Heaven.

Sometimes I have toyed with the idea that this is the reason the male principle is needed in the eternal scheme of things. Men are less connected to their children, because they do not undergo the deep physical connection women do through pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. There needs to be someone capable of putting an arm around a grieving mother and saying, "Honey, you cannot destroy your testimony and your soul out of love for this child. You must stay strong as an anchor so that they can return to your steadfast love in the end. In the meantime, bear the separation through heartfelt prayer and pleadings: there is no other way."

I feel sorry for Brian Laundrie's mother. I think perhaps she already regrets writing that letter, which her son never did burn. But think about why she would have asked him to burn it . . . there was some part of her that knew the sentiments expressed were not right.

The hardest lesson to learn as a mom is that it is not enough to love your child. You must love God more than your child, or you jeopardize your child. And that is a true failure of motherlove.