My mom and I had our share of issues. My addiction added to the conflict and periods of separation in our relationship, as did my lack of respect for her. The Lord revealed this and many other ugly truths to me in prison.

Through His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I saw that I should have honored and valued my mother better than I did (Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 6:20–22). She was the one person who had stood by me through all my failures. She deserved way more care and respect than I showed her, but for my whole life, I had taken her for granted and blamed her for my problems.

I realized this while incarcerated, and I prayed and asked for God’s forgiveness. I wrote letters to my mom, too, asking her to forgive me and sharing everything I was learning in the Bible.

I kept writing even though I didn’t receive a response, and I prayed earnestly for healing in our relationship. Lord, I want my mom to see how much You have changed my life. Please help her forgive me and give me a chance to honor her in a way I never have.

Mom was the first person I wanted to see when I was released from prison. I scoured the internet and looked everywhere but couldn’t find her. Then, one day, I discovered why. Public records revealed that my mom had passed away.

Tears streamed down my face as I realized the date of her death was exactly one year before my arrest in 2015. I begged God not to let it be real, but it was. My mom was gone forever; there would be no making things right.

I called a trusted friend for help who had endured a season of grief. She walked in the door and found me sitting in silence. I couldn’t even form a sentence other than “She’s gone.” I slid my phone across the table to show her what I had read.

I was ashamed to admit it, but I was as disappointed with God as I was angry with myself. Was He mad at me? Why hadn’t He heard my prayers? I asked these questions out loud as pain, guilt, and regret poured out through my tears.

My friend hugged me and listened without judgment. When I collected myself enough for her to speak, she assured me that everything I was feeling was normal for a grieving person. She encouraged me to seek comfort and answers in God’s Word and suggested I read through the Psalms. “Every day, Christina,” she said. “That’s where you’ll find healing.”

I took her advice, and the Holy Spirit quickly led me to Psalm 34:18. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (NIV). Thank You, Jesus.

I processed my grief with the Lord through prayer and journaling. His words comforted my soul. I knew God was listening to the cries of my heart. He was ever so compassionate to the little girl inside me who desperately wanted her mom back (Psalm 34:15, 17).

For years, I wondered why God didn’t answer my prayer. But now I know He did. God was always at work, even through the most painful and messy part of my life, for my good and His glory (1 Peter 4:12–16). It looked different than I’d hoped for, but that never meant He didn’t love me.

In His way, God gave me the desires of my heart. He gave me the gift of seeing how much Mom loved me by leading me to prayers she had written for me in her Bible. He also gave me opportunities to honor her, like in this writing. I pray others will be encouraged to better love the people in their lives. God doesn’t promise them to us forever.

If you’ve lost someone you loved, do as my friend suggested. Spend time with God and seek comfort and answers in His Word. Healing awaits you in His presence (Psalm 147:3). God will never waste your suffering.