So, you know how sometimes people really hurt your feelings and you have a choice? You can let them in and let them ask for forgiveness, or you can bottle it up and continue to be angry. Well, I definitely fall in the first category. I’m a “let me tell you what’s on my mind” kind of gal and let’s work it out. I tend to surround myself, however, with the latter. I also carry guilt. Yes, I am a guilt carrier. I feel guilty for each and every bad thing that EVER happens in my life or anyone elses. I know why I do these things…I was raised this way. I was raised to always “think about what the neighbors would think” or any other person who I don’t know would think about what I am doing or not doing. I don’t ever remember any member of my immediate family ever apologizing to me for anything – to be honest, I am not allowed to tell anyone in my family anything they have ever done to hurt me, because, frankly, they do not want to hear it. I understand why, it’s hard to admit you have done something that might have hurt someone, and the truth hurts. Sometimes the truth hurts so bad you feel it from the top of your head to the pit of your stomach. But, truth, when spoken in love, can do one of two things…it can help you see an aspect of yourself that could potentially harm you or others, and gives you an opportunity to rectify a situation. Or, it can hurt you so bad, you do nothing. And when someone tells you – “you hurt me” I truly believe you should apologize, ask for forgiveness and reconcile the relationship.
I like to think of myself as a very forgiving person…I have forgiven the abuser for the child abuse I suffered, I forgave my first ex-husband for the abuse I suffered at his hands and by his word, I have forgiven past co-workers and friends for what I believed to be harmful situations from them. Most times, without people even knowing I was hurt.
I recently saw my missing daughter, and yes, I have forgiven her for leaving me, I did forgave her the night she left. As I sat and listened to what she had to say the othr night, I have to tell you, I was completely blown away. I had NO IDEA she felt the way she felt about things, and I must say, yes, I was hurt by some things she said, and I also believe I now have a few things to work on myself, because if she is hurt, and it’s because of something I said or did, I want her forgiveness and I want to reconcile our relationship.
Seeing her was an answered prayer. I prayed and prayed she would call, I prayed and prayed she would answer an email, and every Sunday as I sat in church, I prayed I would look up and there she would be standing next to me. None of that happened, and I found her by pure God intervention.
You see, I was at my Wednesday night Table Group Bible Study and I wanted to see her at her college age ministry and asked a minister to go with me. We walked over and I peeked my head around and didn’t see her, which brought me to tears, and as I turned to walk away, he gave me a huge hug and said a prayer for us. I then went to my car and decided to get a coffee. I was extremely excited to see her beautiful face the coffee shop window. And I have to say, I couldn’t wait to walk in and give her a huge hug and tell her I love her.
You could tell, however, by the look on her face she was not thrilled to see me and truly didn’t want to see me. Which, in and of itself, hurt me. She then, or maybe it was her boyfriend, proceeded to text the man she was staying with and he promptly showed up without a hello, how are you, good to see you, NOTHING. This didn’t surprise me, however, because he is one of those people who will never admit he could have wronged anyone…at least he has never admitted that to me. It’s been 46 years, I would think an “I’m sorry” would be in there somewhere, but I guess not, and yes, I forgive him, too, but I am not in the place where I can forget the hurt I feel he has imposed. I’m sure it will come in time. But that is not the relationship I am worried about or wanting to concentrate on.
So I listened to my child, and the pain she feels, and asked for her forgiveness. I also reiterated “I love you, I miss you, I would never do anything intentionally to hurt you”. I told her how she is my heart. My entire heart.
Matthew West has a song about forgiveness. He talks about how forgiveness is the hardest thing to give away, and that it goes to those who don’t derserve it, I believe this is true in some cases, but not in others. It’s the opposite of how we feel – when the pain they cased is just to real – I totally believe this to be true, does it take everything in me however to say the words – no, not when it comes to my daughter.
I’ve thought about how I would react to seeing her for the first time, what she would say, what I would say, I invisioned being able to wrap my arms around her and say, “I love you, I’ve missed you” and her saying “i love you too, Mom”. But that didn’t happen. Instead I got a “I’m not ready for that yet” and “if you do xyz, I will consider having a relationship with you again”. Wow, talk about something that really, truly hurt, and as a mother, who looks at herself as a pretty good mom, I was deeply wounded.
I was also told a few other things, she believes to be true, and asked forgiveness for those…so, I will take those words to heart and change those apsects about myself. Do I feel they are totally true, no, I believe she heard PART of what I had said at times, and in her teen aged mind, that’s how she interpreted it. Will I always VALIDATE HER feelings and try harder? YES. See, to me, part of communicating and listening and forgiving is validating and truly hearing someone. When someone is telling you how they feel, you do not interrupt them or tell them they are wrong, you listen to their truth in love.
What hurt the most was when she told me the past four years, to her, have been “all for show”. Seriously? You want me to believe all the times you crawled into bed and we watched TV together, the ice cream and donut runs, the hugs, the sitting on the vanity and talking to me, the crying on my shoulder, the time at the beach, the unsolicited hugs, the times you have said to someone “my mom is really cool!”, those were all lies? You never meant you love me? You never wanted to spend time with me? You never wanted to watch TV and be quiet? The four days at the beach and the car ride listening to Christian music was all a lie? The times you hugged me in church and told the head of my Sunday School Department “my mom is great with kids” that was all a lie?
All these moments were so special to me. I cannot fake my love for my child. I cannot fake my feelings, the smiles, the hugs full of love – I am not built that way. But, if that is the way you feel, I will take you for your word and work through the pain I feel at basically being told you don’t love me, and move forward. And…I forgive you because I do not want to feel any bitterness towards you – forgiving you sets me free of being held a prisoner of my own feelings.
It’s very hard for me to see our life through her eyes at times however and maybe that’s because I’ve been a single mom for so long, and had to be mom, dad, friend and maybe at times, I’ve made her feel she had to be those things to me. Was it intentional? No. Have I already asked God for His forgivness? Yes. Do I want her forgiveness? Yes. Did I ask her to forgive me? Yes. Do I feel forgiven yet? By God, yes, He truly sees my heart and always have. By her? Not yet, but I know in time it will come. At least I hope it does.
I think the hardest part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself. These past 40 days, I have beat myself up one side and down the other – I have been made to feel like I am worthless, a bad mom, and an evil person. I have been shunned, blocked out, given stipulations from my family on what I need to do for them to be in my life. I have not been asked my side of the story, I have not been given an explanation about what is wrong with my child and why she is so upset. I have been told to leave my family alone, I have been screamed at, cussed at, and been told I am unappreciative for what they are doing to “protect my child” and “keep her off the street”. And…before all that, I was told, “I don’t want to be involved.” WOW…and then I learned the story of the weeks before my child left, things were grossly exaggerated and not entirely true. And…instead of anyone coming to me and saying “hey, can we talk” I was just shut out. I am sure my family feels they are “doing what’s right” and I am sure they believe in their hearts I am this evil, terrible person because I hid child abuse and spousal abuse and a few other very painful parts of my life, but that does not make me a bad. What I did, was protect myself from being hurt again. It’s amazing to me a counselor, three ministers, friends, neighbors, my boss, co-workers and church peoeple can look at me and tell me what I have done to protect myself and things i have said to my child are all normal. I am normal. I am well rounded, I am an honest parent, I am a good parent, I am a strong parent, I am a strong Christian. I am seeking God’s heart every day. I always have,
For those who say they never struggle, for those who say they never wrong anyone, for those who say they do not need to ask for anyone’s forgiveness, or are unwilling to offer forgiveness – I feel pity on them. I know I love the unlovable, I know I have tried to reach the unreachable, I know I ask for help every day in doing the impossible. And it’s all because I have God in my head, my hands, and my heart.
For those who are unwilling to forgive me, I say, don’t you want to be set free? Don’t you want to see what God’s mercy sees? Don’t you want to give what God gave to you?
Forgiveness. Forgiveness.