Links to Amazon are affiliate links.
You see so many quotes about forgiveness. How it benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven. How it’s an essential step towards salvation. How it is one of the keys to happiness. I think often times when we need to offer someone forgiveness we don’t even realize it. We harbor hurt and pain and can’t quite figure out how to rid ourselves of it. And when people tell us we need to forgive someone it’s SO much easier said than done. Sure, you can say “I forgive you.” But is that anger inside you still there? The bitterness? The pain? And how to we come to a place where we truly let all of that go? Where we truly do forgive and find peace? And once you do forgive them, does that mean you have to work things out? Try again at the relationship?
As everyone knows I’ve been on a long journey in dealing with family stuff. Not with Zach or the kids, but with my family. The one who I was born into. It’s been a struggle and a hurt and a long road. I haven’t spoken to my mother or brother or other family members from that side of the family (my dad is the only one who I still currently have a relationship with) since Sept/Oct of 2012. Not by choice. A lot has happened since then. A lot happened prior to then. A lot of pain and hurt which lead to a lot of anger and even, at times, hatred inside of me.
I sought forgiveness and I longed for peace. I think a lot of my reasoning for wanting to be able to forgive was for my own salvation. I knew I was living in sin while I had such bitterness in my heart to those I love so much. I knew that I am God’s daughter before I’m anyone else’s daughter and that I couldn’t be close to Him with sin separating us. But the road to forgiveness has not been as simple as saying the words.
I do not blog about all the details regarding all of this stuff in my life. All of you know I am very, very open and do not shy away from sharing anything. But how to you even begin to share 29 years worth of history? It would require a separate blog in itself and it would not benefit me in the least bit to write it all out. I have appreciated the contacts people have made over these years letting me know they are praying for me and even those who have asked what all has happened. It has helped me to talk through it, work through it, think through it all and sort out my own feelings and hopes for the future.
The last contact between my mother and myself was several months ago through a letter. Up until that time I honestly, truly did not know where she was living. When there was a return address included with the letter I was able to communicate back to her also via a letter in return. While the words she wrote me hurt very badly, I am thankful for them. Being able to write to her and express things I’ve never been able to say to her was so, so healing for me. At the time I wrote the letter I was writing it more for her than for myself. So she would know and understand my perspective. But now I realize that letter was just as much, if not more, for me.
It was my moment of clarity. My moment of forgiveness. My freedom.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It was the second Mother’s Day I spent without my mother in my life. Last Mother’s Day was horrible. Some stuff went down that was extremely painful for me from some of my family and it was a very sad, harsh time. This Mother’s Day was fine. I shocked myself that I never shed a tear. That I was able to be around Zach and his family all celebrating his mom and that I wasn’t sad about my own situation.
During church yesterday our preacher talked about mothers (didn’t all preachers?) and he actually focused a lot on people who didn’t have the best relationships with their moms. He read a letter someone wrote to their mom asking her to forgive them for the anger that they had held in their hearts for so many years. That the anger they had was in many ways worse than the things their mother had done to hurt them.
I thought a lot about that the rest of the day. When I went to bed last night I waited for the tears to come. I am the type of person who can, usually, hold myself together very well throughout the day. But in the dark of night. In the quiet of my bed. My thoughts take over and my tears flow. But last night they didn’t come. I even talked to Zach about it all. And I still didn’t cry.
I realize now that this is what peace feels like. This is it. I have reached it. I do not have anger in my heart anymore towards my mom. I have let got of many, many years of pain and bitterness. I am able to talk about her. Think about her. Remember our happy times. I can see the good again because I am not blinded by the bad. I am so thankful she wrote me that letter and that I wrote her back because I truly think that was what allowed me to reach this point.
I have forgiven her.
I have no clue if I have been forgiven by her for the pain I’m sure I’ve caused as well. I have no idea what the future holds. I have no plans to change anything from how it is now. I heard a lesson once about forgiveness and how it does not always equal reconciliation. It has always stuck with me. Yes, I forgive. But that doesn’t mean that reconciliation has to, or will, follow.
Leading up to this pregnancy I was terrified about how I would do without my mom as part of it. I have had two baby showers for Leo now and, again, no tears from me. I do not know how it will go in the delivery room. In that moment when everyone comes in and she is not there among the crowd. But I think I will be okay. I am so excited about meeting our baby and am so, so blessed to have so many others who are excited and who will be there. Through my forgiveness and through my peace I am able to see the good I have. The good is all around me and it’s wonderful and I’m thankful that it’s no longer clouded by the pain I was so consumed with.
They say that forgiveness gives us freedom. It’s true. It does. I’m free now to live my life and to move forward and to be happy. Not a forced happiness. Not a happiness that I have to will myself to have or a fake smile to cover up the brokenness I feel inside. But a true happiness.
Saturday was the day of my baby shower that Robyn hosted for me. It was my “friends” shower. I have never, ever felt as loved as I did that day. My entire heart was so full and I was truly overflowing with happiness. I didn’t once think about those people who were missing. Who should have been there but wasn’t. I no longer have to focus on those people who should care but don’t and am instead free to focus on the people in my life who do care. Who are there. Who do love me and my little family and who will be there throughout the lives of my children. I am so blessed. And I’m not going to waste any more of my life. The good is all around me and I am thankful.
More than anything I’m so thankful for my relationship with Jesus. That I am able to know His love and His mercy and His grace. He has given me strength when I didn’t think I had any left to give. He has allowed me to find the silver lining during many dark days. He has granted me the ability to forgive and find the peace I’ve been longing for for so long.
Thank you to all of my amazing support system. Even those of you who don’t realize it, you have blessed me and helped me to grow. I know the hard days of this hurt are not completely gone. I know I will still have moments of sadness and anger and pain. And that’s okay. I am able to look back at the past and forward to the future now with a smile and with hope. Even through my tears when sadness comes, I have peace.