This “5 Questions about…” post is by my dear, courageous friend who would like to remain anonymous for now. I know you’ll be blessed and inspired by her powerful story.
1. You have an amazing husband and an adorable baby boy – a healthy, Jesus-loving family, but your own family growing up wasn’t so healthy. Can you give us a little background?
I feel humbled and grateful that the Lord answered my prayers and hearts desire for this family of mine. Although the Lord took hold of me and I of Him as a little girl, I have kept many unhealthy secrets along the way.
I was conceived out of wedlock to a mother who wanted to abort me and a father who almost did. He has told me, ” I had a vivid dream that God told me to keep you and on the way to the abortion clinic, I convinced your mother to keep you”.
Unfortunately, between drugs and postpartum depression, my mother ran away from me and my father. My dad’s mother and father suggested he and I move in with them. From the outside, my life looked like a field of flowers, but if anyone would have looked closer, those flowers were being strangled with many different kinds of weeds, that seemed to get tighter with each passing year.
My childhood and actually, adulthood, was full of rejection through many different aspects – lack of healthy communication in forms of anger, aggression, mental and physical abuse, witnessing drugs & alcohol and much more. But through it all, I can tell you, because of forgiveness and God’s grace, I am very close to my grandmother, and my father and I grow closer by the day.
2. What specifically, led you to faith?
Thank the Lord my G-mama and Papa were members of a vibrant church. I started going there as an infant and I’m positive it is partly because of the prayers that were placed over me by my G-mama, the women who she worked with at the church, as well as the pastor and his wife, that I chose Jesus!
It was Easter Sunday, the April after I turned 5 years old that I knew, for a fact, that Jesus paid the price for everyone’s sins. I understood that noone was perfect (including my family) and that I could find rest and peace in Jesus. I told my G-mama that evening that I had prayed to ask Jesus in my heart and after questions from her (probably because she didn’t believe I truly understood the meaning of it all) I prayed, again, with her by my bedside to ask Jesus to be my master, guide and hevenly father. I honestly felt different the next morning and told everyone at school I had Jesus in my heart.
3. You’ve had a lot of pain in your family… a lot to forgive in your life. What has been the most challenging and what have you learned?
Oh my… I’m emotional even writing this… I don’t think I can even point to THE most painful instance. (I’ve just recently shared some of this for the first time in my whole life.) But I can tell you what I am learning. I’ve learned that the Lord provides healing and hope; He provides a way for anyone to break the chains of dysfunction. That even when He says, ‘No’, or ‘Not Now’ I can trust His timing.
I’m learning that even though I forgive, it doesn’t mean others will then automatically accept me or that things will change, but that I’m doing what the Lord wants me to do and that is good. I’m learning that I am more than just an unwanted child. I’m made in His image and He has a purpose for me and because of that, I am special. I’ve most recently learned that even though my story wouldn’t be exactly how I might want it, I can change how it finishes. Only through Christ’s forgiveness and grace I can create a very different childhood for my family.
4. There’s a difference between forgiveness (what you can do with God’s help) and reconciliation (requiring both parties to participate). Can you share some about your experience with this? Have there been relationships in your family where you forgave, but reconciliation wasn’t possible?
Yes… I honestly JUST figured that out the past 5 years or so… I thought, ‘ Well, if I forgive and start over, then the other party will want to be better and forgive and start over too!’ Ummm…can I tell you how disappointing that is!
One huge emptiness in my life was a lack of a relationship with my mother. For the past 33 years I had hoped, prayed and dreamed of being good enough for her, and wishing she would love me and consider me hers, like she did my half sisters.
Last June, she had to work here in Mpls for a long weekend, so she brought two of my half sisters with her to visit!
During that time with them there were such hopeful glimpses of a possible relationship. I thought it was FINALLY going to be her reconciliation with me..after so many years of me forgiving her and hoping for reciprocity I actually thought this was the real beginning to our future, this time it would be different.
We spoke more frequently the next few months; she took the time to send a scarf and a card the first week of October. She had never been able to reciprocate love before and I had a short window with her those few months where she was actually trying.
The last time I saw her was on facetime with me Saturday, October 12th 2013 to tell her we were going to have a baby! She teared up and said, “I promise I’ll be a better grandmother than I was a mother to you.” Then four days later on October 16th, she was killed in a car accident.
That’s it, she was gone. All those years where she wasn’t ready to reciprocate and FINALLY I had hoped that this time was going to be different; Just like that, my lifelong dream to have a relationship with a mother, who didn’t want me from the beginning, was gone.
5. What would you say to someone who has experienced deep pain or wronging and is struggling to forgive?
First, I had to acknowledge and trust that God’s plan is good. The big picture is something we can’t see, so trust that through the pain, He will allow you great Joy.
Second, I used to pray that the Lord would change my mother, change my father, change my grandmother and grandfather,but God has taught me to pray to change me, or my heart instead. I do believe that the Lord can change an addict, or an abuser, so I wouldn’t stop praying FOR the person who’d wronged you. But He can also soften my heart to love unconditionally and to be able to forgive. That goes for anything or anybody in life. A neighbor who wronged you, a friend in church who hurt or disappointed you, a husband who has wronged you.
It’s harder to pray for those who hurt you, to let the Lord handle tomorrow . So, I constantly remind myself to pray that my heart be softened to pray for those who have and continue to hurt me. I ask my heavenly father to replace those negative words I hear when I’m wronged (like,”you’re not good enough”, “you aren’t worth anything”, “you will never be anything good”) with words of His truth.
I ask Him to fill the void that I feel so often. I ask that He allows me to let go, and trust Him. I ask that He allows me to Love like He wants me to and forget about the rest. Some people think that’s me being ignorant, or too bubbly. But honestly, it’s me, learning to forgive and be a God’s girl, the best I can be. I would definitely tell someone who is struggling to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, and then, move forward, honor the Lord and if you can’t bring yourself to do it…pray that He’d give you the humility to do so!
Is there someone in your life you need to forgive, whether they respond or not? What thoughts has my friend shared that might help?