“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
I have a confession to make... I once didn't talk to my mom for five long years! The same Mom who hugged me when I cried and taught me family always sticks together? Wow! Five long years... Did I admit that out loud? Yep! There it is out in the open. I have an issue with forgiveness. The five years it took me to get over a devastating blow that my Mother put onto our family was torture! I missed the relationship we once had but I could not get over how she had hurt my family and it seemed like she didn't care that her actions were causing her daughter and grandchildren a great deal of hardship... emotional and physical hardship.
In my mind I was completely justified for being so hurt and angry! After all I was her daughter, I felt abandoned in a time of need and more than that I felt like it was my mom causing this "time of need". It was already a time of change and uncertainty as we were new business owners struggling to make it and my twins would be graduating high school in only a matter of months. Now with a new twist of my mother evicting us from our family home and demanding rent for two months she had already said was ok and not to worry about, not to mention demanding money we already paid her, we would need to find a new house with no money to move. I was completely broken and it took me a long time to recover from the blow.
I would pray to be able to forgive my Mom EVERYDAY for days... days turned to months and months turned to years. I would hear from friends that Mom was in town but she would never call or even try to contact me while she was visiting her hometown. This hurt more than the eviction itself because in my eyes she owed me an apology and I knew my mom was way too proud to ever come to me and say sorry. I would cry myself to sleep on many a night over the loss of my mother... in my eyes she was dead! No Mother should ever make her daughter feel this way! I was so bitter that I was consumed by it. I have heard that one of the most devastating human emotions can be feelings of bitterness; I believe that to be true! I lived in that state of devastation and deep depression for at least four of those five long years, praying EVERYDAY for relief and to forgive and to be forgiven because I knew I was not forgiving the way I should be...
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37 NIV
I had condemned myself and it was making me miserable, like a slow poison in my body eating me alive! I wouldn't talk to anybody in my family that would talk to my mom! I unrealistically demanded a side to be chosen... me or mom! one of my brothers came to visit a year or two after this all happened, to tell me about our Grandpa passing away and I was still so overflowing with rage, I was unkind and I'm sure he left disappointed in me, not to mention I missed his funeral services since I knew Mom would be there. My other brother and his wife came to visit a year or so after that... they asked me to forgive them for whatever they had done and to think about forgiving mom because she was getting old and not well... our family needed to be restored. I cried for days again! Why was it me that had to make the first move to restore things when I was not the one that caused it all? My pride would not let me forgive my mom but I did start healing enough to talk with my brothers once in a while.
Then came the phone call no one wants to get... "This is Darcy, honey... I just want you to know that your mom is in the hospital with pneumonia and it doesn't look good! I was hoping you could talk with her for a moment and let her know you still love her." WOW!! Talk about an Amygdala Hijack!!! An Amygdala Hijack as described by Wikipedia is an emotional response which is immediate and overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat. So here I was in Fight or flight mode and my world was spinning all around me. Darcy wanted me to make amends with my dying mom! "NO NO NO!!" Was all that could come to my mind! Darcy so kindly suggested I should lose my pride as I may not have many more chances to make things right! I was so mad at my Sister-in-law for suggesting I should be the one to say sorry and make amends! I didn't make things right that day and I felt the guilt, but the Lord had mercy on me... My Mom got better and was able to go home finally, it took her a while to recover, and I would not talk to her for another whole year.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7 NIV
Through this time my kids had grown up, were starting families of their own and my mom was missing out. She had never even met any of her great grandchildren from my kids. I felt the guilt of that and it weighed heavy on my heart. I was closer to forgiving now but I still felt hurt and unable to let go.
Still praying daily to be able to forgive and understand, I felt no closer to understanding and only a little closer to forgiveness. It was my birthday and the Lord was tugging at my heart to call my mom! So I prayed and prayed! I finally picked up that phone... that was the hardest phone call I have EVER made. WE talked for quite a while and we cried for a while too.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
My mom and I have worked through a lot of our issues and with prayer and a lot of time to heal we have been able to put the past behind us finally. She has been able to meet her great grandchildren and we are blessed to have found forgiveness in each other again. The time I spent consumed with hurt and anger can never be given back to me or my mom. They will forever be lost to both of our selfish pride's inability to let go... Five years of trying to understand things and trying to justify myself and my own actions... when I should have let go and let God...
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his clothing, and cast lots. Luke 23:34
What I didn't realize through those dark and devastating years is that my Mom was ill. She was not well. Years ago when I was a young girl my mom was diagnosed with Manic-depression. These days they call it Bipolar. I would not fully understand what was going on with my mom and why it felt like I was abandoned by her until my daughter's severe episode with this dreaded mental illness. In 2014 my youngest daughter started showing signs and symptoms of a bipolar psychosis that would plunge us all into months of despair as we helplessly watched the scary, self-destructive behaviors transform a highly intelligent and motivated young woman into a shadow of her former self. She was in and out of mental hospitals and fighting treatment every step of the way, but somehow God watched over her and sent her to places that we could not help her... he sent her to where she would have to accept that she needed help, to where she had to depend only on herself to make the choice for treatment... and she did. My family can all thank God daily for answering countless prayers and pleas to send healing her way. She is doing well, gainfully employed, and much stronger for all she has gone through in her journey to get back to whole health and wellness. We our very blessed!
I can't fully describe to you the light-bulb affect that took place for me... it was like one ah-ha moment after another.... "OH! Stress can trigger this illness! OH! Mom was still trying to process the tragic death of my brother's son among other hardships! OH! Mom has been managing a bipolar condition all my life and I never realized the struggle until I watched the struggle unfold in front of me with my own daughter! OH! The horrid feelings of betrayal and abandonment were NOT caused by a Mother in her RIGHT state of mind! OH MY GOD!?! WHAT HAVE I DONE? Oh my God, PLEASE FORGIVE ME for not understanding and showing my mother love, compassion, and understanding when her world was spinning out of control! "
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:4 - 6 NIV
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 NIV
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 NIV
I learned a lot about forgiveness through the process...Life is precious and short; When it seems impossible to forgive, remember God forgave the impossible in us; It's ok to forgive, yet keep healthy boundaries; Even if you think you understand why someone has hurt you, don't lean on your own understanding!; Hurting people, hurt people; Stress can make a person temporarily mentally unstable even if there is no mental illness present; Mental illness STINKS and it's nobody's fault but Satan's!; When an Amygdala Hijack hits you> BREATH in through your nose counting to 4 and then out through your mouth counting to 4> the distraction gives your brain time to recover and something else to focus on besides fight or flight.
I would love to tell you I am now an expert on forgiveness but I am not:) I am a work in progress... I am hyper sensitive and my feelings get hurt super easily, but I can tell you it no longer takes me five years to get over devastation. I'm a little slower to anger sometimes, I try to put myself in the other person's shoe's to understand their perspective a little more often, and I remember who I am in Christ! God loves us ALL! He loves you and he loves me. He wants us to find joy in him and to show his love to others, part of that love is forgiveness. If you are harboring a grudge or hurt feelings today, I invite you to lean on God's understanding and not your own. I ask that you take those first steps to letting go by asking our Heavenly Father for help to put away your hurt and step into a new day with the love, joy, and forgiveness of Christ as your main focus, then wait and watch for God's merciful healing blessings to unfold in front of you.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19 NLT
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.…James 1:3
Exclusive Editing rights appointed to and Approval to publish granted by: My Loving Mother<3
Biblical references - Holy Bible in various translations
Wikipedia - Definition of Amygdala Hijack
http://www.openthoumineeyes.com/lessons/bitterness.html - About the devastation of bitterness
Photography by - Dianna WylesRead more at: www.refreshinghope.org