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A Story of Forgiveness

From a wife…. thank you for sharing!!!   I know many of you will relate.

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I don’t know why my mom hated homeschooling so much.  I don’t know even that it was so much homeschooling, or that it was just my life choices in general that she didn’t appreciate, and homeschooling was the last straw for her.

Basically, as long as I agreed with her opinions and let her have her way in my life direction, it was great between us.  But as soon as I differed from her she was greatly offended.  After becoming a wife and mom with a family of my own, our relationship became more strained with every passing year.  My husband would tell me in later years that for the first 5 years of our marriage it felt like he was married to my mom.

When I became a Christian, it wasn’t received well.  She said I was already a Christian because she got me baptized when I was a baby.  I tried to explain to her that this was different, that God was really real and that I had never had Jesus before.  That getting me baptized when I was a baby was a great thing for a mom to do; but it wasn’t my choice, and it needed to be my own choice.

Although I let this conversation lay, she wouldn’t let it be.  It became a ‘back burner’ kind of point of contention between us.  When I did decide to get baptized on my own, she considered this a personal attack on her parenting, reiterating again, that she had already taken care of it.  That I was only doing this to ‘get back at her.’  I tried to help her understand that I thought she had been a fantastic mom and there was nothing I wanted to ‘get back at her’ for – but I couldn’t get her to see that I was a different person then her.  It seemed everything I did that was different than what she wanted, she saw as not only a negative reflection on her somehow, but also an attack on her person.

As the stress grew, parenting our first child became a challenge to her at every turn.  I’m not going to go on and on about it but only share a few examples so that you understand the temperature of the relationship.

-Beavers.  We were struggling with our son because he was an introverted ‘bookie’ type kid, favouring long hours of reading, drawing, playing legos and building models and creating things out of raw materials.  At her leading we thought we’d try him in Scouts (Beavers was his age group).  He hated it.  But we made him stay for two months, finally allowing him to leave.  She chastised me for this and considered it a grave mistake to let him drop it.  Her words were, “Shelly, YOU AND I agreed this would be a good thing for him.”  Now, whether or not it was a good parenting decision isn’t the point.  The point is that he was mine and my husband’s son and we made a decision to drop it.  Yet she insisted, insisted that I change my husband’s mind and put our son back in Beavers.  When I didn’t, but instead, supported my husband’s decision to take him out, this became another point of ‘back burner’ contention between us.  It was constantly brought out in conversation.

-Gameboy.  We didn’t want our kids playing electronic games (screens) until they were a certain age.  We preferred more tactile stimulus for their brains.  But according to my mom all the kids were playing with these electronic gadgets and she could see no reason for him to not have one.  She tried over the course of a year to talk me into it.  This would be going against what my husband and I had agreed to.  She bought it for him anyway and gave it to him on his birthday.

The most overarching contention that I dealt with on a regular basis was that I was not bringing in an income, but was instead staying home to homeschool.  She didn’t like that we didn’t drive a nice car and only had one, didn’t have new clothes but bought second hand instead.

And then – the needling directly at the kids started.

-“don’t you miss having lots of other kids to play with?”

-“don’t you miss field trips to this place and the other place?”

-“wouldn’t it be fun to do such and such?”

Our kids were involved in extracurricular activities.  They were in sports (if they wanted) music, homeschool groups and functions, volunteer work, newspaper routes, dog walking businesses, yard care businesses, church activities etc. But for some reason these things were not acceptable – because they didn’t come through the school system.

On and on it went – for far too long.  And yes, it was that blatant.

Finally, God stepped in.  He told me I had to stand up to her and not back down.

I was physically sick at the thought.  You see, I was wounded and terrified when it came to my mother.  The thoughts of really challenging her and not backing down frightened me.  Over the years I had been freeing myself from the control of her personality, bit by bit and this was the strain on our relationship.  I believed God thought I was strong enough now to be direct with her.  He told me what to say and how to say it to keep me on track.  Prepare your thoughts in point form.  This is what He wanted me to say:

-Hey mom, I’ve got to ask you to please not talk negatively about our choices to the kids anymore.

-There is nothing wrong with our choices to have one income so that we can homeschool, so please don’t make any more negative comments about it.

-It’s not fair to try and get the kids to go against our choices for them.  This cruel to do them, they don’t have a choice – it’s our choice as their parents.

I started to cry after I saw what God wanted me to say, because I knew that she would not accept it.  I knew she would take offense af it.  But also, it seemed confusing to me, there were no other Christians in my family, I know He knows what will happen.  He told me to call her in the morning.

But I didn’t.  He told me to call her the next morning but I didn’t.  This played out every day for 1 ½ weeks.  And then God said something to me that changed my life.  I was standing in the kitchen looking at the phone, list in hand, and God said, “Do you realize you are more afraid of your mother than you are of ME?”

Scales fell from my mind (so to speak) – and the phone rang.  It was my mom (too weird, right?)

I followed God’s directions and tried to plead with her to accept our choices.  This was a ‘no-go.’  She felt that it was wrong for me to try and tell her what to think and say around the kids.  That everyone who comes into our home isn’t going to share our opinion of homeschooling.  I tried to get her to understand that I didn’t want her to change her opinion about homeschooling, and that my husband and I, together would be willing to sit down and address any concerns that her and dad had (which we had done already, a few times over the years); but it had to stop with the kids.

The conversation fell into its familiar circular pattern:  it was turned so that somehow it was me attacking her.  (which is why God told me to write down the points and stay on track and stay calm)  At this point I asked the ending question:  “What are we going to do about this mom?”  And I heard the words that no kid wants to hear from their mother, “Well, I guess this is good-bye then because I’m not going to have people in my life that won’t accept me for who I am.”  That was the last time I talked to my mom.

For those of you who don’t know, this is what the narcissistic personality is like.  I only found this out a few years ago, I thought my mom was just super controlling.  As is common with this personality, when there is this type of conflict, it is necessary that everyone else (in the family, or wherever) know just how offended they were; how right they were; and how wrong the offender (me) was.  This is how they segregate you out, not just away from themselves, but the rest of the family.

But that doesn’t change anything, really.  I still needed to forgive her (and my dad), and my brother and sister.

For the great news!

What happened is that when I turned to God instead of my own pain and gnawing rejection, He freed me.  (a LOT more difficult than it sounds, all neat and tidy in one sentence)

PLUS He became much more real on so many levels.  How does God become more real than REAL?  If you allow Him, He’ll meet you EXACTLY where you are.

I had sinned against God.  Yes, I was the one that suffered the abuse, however, I had also sinned myself.  My identity was completely entwined with my mothers, this was her doing; but I had tried to fix myself by my own methods – this was MY sin.  God is God, and He will have nothing between us and Him.  He is first and although I said I believed that and thought I believed it, as I went through this experience it allowed me to see into myself in a way that I never would have otherwise.

Pain, if you’ll let it, will peel back all the self-made barriers (self-vindication and self-protection) so that you can see your real self. These barriers do a very scary thing – they separate you from others – and God.  But I didn’t see this, and once you start building them, it is virtually impossible to stop without God’s intervention – it just becomes who you are.  You make a little protective cocoon around your heart, weaving strand by strand, ever so slowly.  You don’t think you are doing this and you can’t see it, and no one else can – only God.

Inside this cocoon I had hidden my wounds.  This is what God wanted to get at and heal.

The first place God met me was here:  Although my father and mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. –Psalm 27:10.  When God lead me to this verse I actually cried out in anguish.  I’ve never experienced anything like this since.  When you experience this kind of rejection it feels negatively surreal.  It is as though you are losing your  footing mentally and emotionally.  I could feel God behind me saying, this is real.  What you are feeling IS real – but I’m here, right behind you – fall into ME.

Forgiveness allowed me to see clearly.  This isn’t about me and my mom (as much as it seems like it is), it’s about God and me.  It’s about Satan hating God and hating me because I’m His daughter.  This is what the adversary does to us:  he uses people to do to us what he wants to do to us.  Without forgiveness I would never have seen the truth of it.  Vengeance does not belong to me but to God.  I don’t know His plans, He does.  People do bad things to us, but God means it for good.  He will bring the good out of ugly – if we will just trust Him and wait for Him. (Gen 50:19-20; Rom 8:28)

I can now say like Job did, “I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You.

 

RELATED:

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11 thoughts on “A Story of Forgiveness

  1. What a powerful story. I was in the same place with my father last year- I was putting his approval about God’s leading and my husband’s place a head of our household. We had to move 600 miles away from them to really break the patterns and drive me to “leave and cleave”. God’s blessing in my life (esp in my marriage) since that awful anguish and hard obedience has been immeasurable. Thank you so much for sharing- I know how that must hurt every day, even in obedience to God.

    1. MV,

      Thank you for sharing! Sometimes it can take space to accomplish leaving one’s father and mother and cleaving to our spouse. We have a covenant with our husbands, not with our parents. That can be really hard for parents to accept sometimes. Praying for you and your family!

  2. I’m sorry for the pain that this sweet sister has gone through. Even though she is now free, I can imagine it is still a sad situation.

    I can definitely relate to this story. My mother isn’t that severe, but everyone does have to walk on egg shells around her and agree with her opinions. And now that I am learning about respect, I see that my mother never showed my father respect. (Not that my father is perfect.)

    Deep down, my mother can be very loving. But she has a lot of hurt and pain in her heart. And that’s what she allows to drive her.

    I have a lot of that junk in me that I am trying to get rid of. This year I feel I have had tremendous spiritual growth. One of my sisters, who I feel is a lot closer to Christ than I am, told me that she has recently learned some things from me. I couldn’t believe it! But it made me so happy to know that God is changing me.

    Thank you for sharing this story!

    1. Bridget,

      Many of us do learn disrespect and controlling behavior from our mothers. My mom was actually quite submissive and respectful – I learned my disrespect and control from a variety of other factors.

      Controlling and disrespectful women do carry MUCH pain and fear. It is a miserable prison of a life. I pray that you might find freedom from those things – and maybe – God might use your example to show your mom the way, too?

      I am so excited about what God is doing in your heart!

  3. I want to thank this wife for her courage in sharing this painful part of the Christian life many of us have to go through. I, too, have a controlling mother whom I’ve had to cut off like Christ said in Matt. 18:8 for the sake of obedience to God and my spiritual life. Nothing quite prepares you for the sadness, but with it there is peace knowing you are honoring God and your husband with your sacrifice. You are also saving you children from a life-time of confusion and hypocrisy. Carry on, dear sister, you are not alone. May we stand at Christ’s coming and hear, Well done, my good and faithful servant. Thank you April, for bringing us wives together for encouragment that gives glory to our Almighty God.

    1. Gleniece,
      Thank you for sharing. It is so painful when there is not harmony in the family. But if we must choose – we must choose God and our husbands over our parents once we are married. I pray we will all seek to please Christ with all our hearts and that our lives might bring Him the greatest possible glory!

  4. ndI thought I was the only one — I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have you share this. I was an idolater, straight up, and my idol was my mom. The really insidious thing is that she plays doormat to powerful people in public, but criticizes, mocks, and undermines them in private. She treated my dad this way until he died, and made everyone believe that he was the bully.

    Because my mother is such a doormat in public, and because I copied her behavior without question, I grew up believing that I was a good, humble, submissive person. This lie from the enemy has ruined most of my relationships — yes, with friends and colleagues, as well as my first husband. Like you, I was called by Jesus to confront my mom, and that ended our relationship. I’ve. been widowed for four years, but I thank God that I have a new man and another chance. I couldn’t do it without Jesus and blogs like this one. Thank you, April, and thanks to the wife who shared this testimony.

    1. Beezhoneybee,

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. And about the very difficult situation with your mother.

      People pleasing was one of my idols, too! I have a link to that post at the bottom of this post on forgiveness.

      I am so sorry that things did not work out peacefully with your mom. I pray that God might open her eyes. And that He might give you His wisdom and forgiveness and love for her. He is the only one who can open anyone’s eyes. I pray that there might be reconciliation in the future – and most of all for GOd’s greatest glory in your life.

      COngratulations on the new man in your life! How exciting! I hope you will let me know how you are doing! 🙂

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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