Peggy Doyle - A Mother's Perspective
It is not uncommon to hear stories about God transforming lives in the midst of pain, despair, and brokenness. After all, He is in the business of making beauty from ashes. But we do not always hear about that story from a mother’s perspective. We do not get insight on how she felt her child’s pain, watched them struggle through despair, and tried everything she could to fix their brokenness.
Peggy Doyle felt all of this as she watched her only daughter, Kaela, walk through these struggles. Here is her story:
Kaela was what some would call an ideal high-school student. She excelled in her classes, played varsity tennis, had a good group of friends, was chaplain during her senior year, and loved going to her youth church, The Mvmnt.
In the midst of these things, as any mother would, Peggy still longed to keep her daughter safe and happy. “I hovered too much at times,” Peggy says, “but I only wanted to protect her from making the same mistakes that I made.”
During her senior year, Kaela was asked to play tennis at John Brown University in Arkansas. “It seemed like it was God’s favor at the time. But it turned out to be a nightmare,” Peggy says. Everything a parent dreads began to happen; Kaela started hanging out with the wrong crowd, started going out to parties, and began to drink. To make matters worse, Peggy was no longer there to protect her.
“There were times that I blamed myself,” Peggy recalls. “Maybe I hovered too much, or maybe I wasn't a good mother, or maybe I should have given her a better childhood. All I knew was that my daughter was gone. She wasn't going to church. She started seeking all of the wrong things. She did not even look like herself anymore.”
As we all do, especially during dark times, Peggy began to question God.
“Why would He have put her in this school? Why would He let her go through these things? I asked myself these things,” Peggy says. “Then, there came a moment when I was crying out to God for my only daughter that I heard Him say, ‘Let go. I’ve got her.’ I knew in that moment I needed to let go of Kaela.”
Peggy and Kaela had open and honest communication during this season of life. Kaela did not hide the things she was doing from her mother, instead she would openly share about what she was going through.
“Nothing shocked me,” Peggy says, “because I had been through so much growing up. But, as a mother, it really, really hurt. My heart broke every time I talked to her. Not just for the things she was going through, but in frustration with myself. In this process, God showed me His own heart breaking—how He loves her more than I ever could.”
Peggy tried to her best to respond to Kaela with love and understanding. “I knew she was up against so much— greed, perfection, selfishness, materialism, addiction, idolatry, identity— but as a mother, the only thing I could do was love her through it all.”
“I remember going to Pastor Dustin and asking him to pray with us for her,” Peggy continues. “I read Stormy Martin’s Power of Praying, as a tool to help me pray. I did everything in my power to help my girl. I found myself praying for the worst— that she would get so violently sick that she would not want to touch alcohol again. I prayed that people would leave her life. It sounds horrible, but it is all that I could do.”
Months of grief and pain, that only a mother can know for her child, consumed Peggy.
“But even in the midst of Kaela’s worst time, I had this sense—this understanding that God’s protection was over her.”
In His (always perfect) timing, God moved drastically in Kaela’s life. After her first year of college, she moved home. Peggy, knowing this was just the beginning of God’s plan, continued to pray.
“I prayed that she would do The Internship [at Church Eleven32]. I had seen so many lives changes by The Internship and I knew God would change her life through it,” Peggy says. “God answered my prayers. She signed up for The Internship that Fall.”
It has been almost two years since Kaela came home from college. She is only two months away from graduating from her second and final year of The Internship. Just as Peggy expected, Kaela’s life has been transformed.
“When I look at Kaela, I see a complete transformation. Someone who seemed broken for so long, but now is an amazing woman of confidence, grace, beauty, and freedom. God redeemed everything that I felt I had lost in my daughter.” With tears in her eyes, Peggy says, “God has given me a second chance with her. He is so faithful.”
What were once the darkest days of Peggy’s mothering, through the grace of God, have turned into her brightest and most rewarding. God continues to work in both Peggy and Kaela’s lives, using them to spur each other on. “In every situation now,” Peggy says, “I can just look at Kaela and be reminded of what God has done. She inspires me, she encourages me, and her life has blessed me more than she will ever know.”
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