I was scrolling through some of my posts on my wall over at Facebook, and I came across the post I wrote this past Mother's Day. The topic is really more about forgiveness rather than Mother's Day . . . and forgiveness is *always* a timely topic, doncha know. :)
So, without futher adieu, I share that particulate post with y'all, here, now.
Mother's Day . . . For some, the holiday is a happy time; either because you're a mom and your kids are loving on you in special ways or because you're a child of a fantastic mother.
For other people, the holiday can be a very painful time; and the reasons range from infertility to unhappy memories of one's mom (and the reasons for the unhappy memories range from one's mother no longer living to having grown up with an abusive mom).
Personally, until a few years ago, I never even paid attention to Mother's Day. In fact, I often was unaware of it's approach unless someone made mention of it or I happened to be in a card store in the few weeks prior to Mother's Day. And, actually, it’s still that way, somewhat. Mother’s Day just isn’t naturally part of who I am.
My own mother was not a happy person. "Technically" my mother was actually my birth grandmother; she adopted me from her daughter (my birth mother) when I was still a baby. My grandmother had her own childhood and adolescent horrors from which she never really recovered, never really was able to make peace with her past and move on. Because of that, she also was a very angry person. Without going into detail, she vented her anger on me in, frankly, some pretty terrifying ways. When I was eight, she became bed-ridden with lung cancer. She remained that way until her death two years later. Even from her sickbed, I was truly frightened of her. I don’t refer to her as my mother (unless it’s for clarity in either what I’m writing or saying); instead, if she enters my thoughts or conversations, she is simply referred to by her first name.
I never met my birth mother. And, again, I’ve always referred to or thought of her simply by her given nickname. I spoke to her only once throughout my entire life. By the time such conversation took place, I was a young adult. The details of the conversation are not important; but at that time in my life, I was not prepared to meet her; I asked her to give me six months and then we could talk again. Six months later, she committed suicide in an women’s alcoholic rehabilitation center. The note she left blamed me. That’s some pretty heavy stuff for anyone to handle; especially a young adult (and such young adult going through her own trials at that time). Obviously, like her own mother, my birth mother had her own dark demons that she was simple not able to conquer.
It took me a few years to be able to come to terms with both of these women and how they influenced my life. I was in my early 30s when I learned the power behind asking Our Lord to help us see individuals as He sees them. I was able to do this with both my birth grandmother and also my birth mother. What I saw was great sadness and despair - in each of their lives. Emptiness. I also saw, in each of them, an inability to forgive those who had harmed them when they were young and vulnerable. It shaped their entire lives.
The brutality that each of them then inflicted upon me (as an infant with my birth mother and as a child with my birth grandmother) would also seem to be unforgivable. By all rights, I should be able to hold bitterness in my heart toward each of them every single day of my life.
Except. As a Christian, no, I can’t do that. In fact, I don’t even *want* to do that. Christians are called to actively forgive the people who have harmed them. We are also called to actively love everyone; *including* our enemies.
The cool thing about truly praying for someone is that one cannot sincerely pray for another human being while holding anger, hurt feelings and/or ill will toward them. Prayer and hate cannot coexist. Prayer and love is the correct combination. And, while, technically, I wasn’t praying *for* these women (both of whom had long since been deceased), I *was* praying that I would be able to forgive them; so they were definitely the subjects of my prayers.
I firmly believe that every commandment Our Lord gives us has a two-fold purpose: (1) to bring Glory and Honor to Him, and (2) to protect us. His commandments are not against us; they are so very much FOR us. They are given to us because He loves us so very much.
The commandment to forgive others . . . yes, obeying that will bring Glory and Honor to Him. It will *also* protect us in huge, huge ways. A forgiving heart is malleable; it is soft and capable of being molded and formed . . . and even reformed when necessary. A unforgiving heart is bitter and brittle, and brittle things tend to shatter A heart filled with bitterness also prevents Peace and Joy from entering.
I had seen the effects of holding unforgiveness towards someone in how the ripple effects pervaded my own life at the hands of my birth grandmother. I had also experience, somewhat, those same ripple effects by observing some of my birth mother’s life.
I didn’t want to become that kind of person. Frankly, I thought I deserved better. And, I did - and I do. The sad truth is that so did both of these women, but they either didn’t know it or chose not to believe it; they deserved so much better than they allowed into their lives. Everyone deserves better than a living a life of unforgiveness, bitterness and hate.
And, that’s the clincher right there . . . we are the ones that make that choice. I make it for my life, you make it for your own life, and others make it for their lives, as well. We, each of us, can choose to either wrap ourselves in hurtful memories and bemoan, "Why me, Lord? Why?!" OR we can choose to wrap those hurtful memories up into a bundle and give them to Him and ask Him to protect us, to help us forgive, to help us heal . . . and to help us move on with our lives.
I made the latter choice, and I’m so very glad I did.
I don’t do a lot of thinking about neither my birth grandmother nor my birth mother. There’s really no point in doing so. But, when they do cross mind, I try to remember to pray - that my heart would be protected and that I will be able to remember that what’s done is done, and it’s now all just historical facts; nothing more. The memories can’t hurt me. And, instead of becoming all embroiled again in hurt and anger, I allow myself, when necessary, to feel the pain of these two women not being able to reach beyond their circumstances. They were never able to flourish and know true Peace and Joy. And, that truly is a sadness; an empty, dark sadness. But, even though there’s pain in the realization of their choices, I am protected from that pain. It simply is what it is.
But. I also don’t stay in that place very long; life is for the living. My birth grandmother has been dead for almost 4 decades, and my birth mother, almost 3 decades. There really is not any use nor good reason in getting stuck in all that old ick and yuck. Besides, I’d much rather turn my attentions towards things in the moment, and I'd much rather focus on the joyful aspects of my life.
My hope, wish and prayer for each of y’all today is that if you are struggling with unforgiveness towards someone that you will be able to allow Our Lord to help you release that and to replace it with forgiveness . . . and also HIS Peace, HIS Joy.
May Our Lord bless you most abundantly.
Thanks for reading, y’all!