I know what it is, but how do I do it? How do I know when I have truly recovered from the pain of hurt that broke my heart, wounded my spirit, or crushed me to the core of my inner being? Can you forget the pain and hurt or do you live with it the rest of your life? Have you ever felt this way and didn’t know if you could ever forgive the person who hurt you so badly? I was sent this powerful message by Amber Ann Wright and felt it was a good illustration of what forgiveness is.
“When my sister was about six weeks old, I heard a very strange sound coming from inside my house. My mother was holding her and rocking her, but the strange sound was singing. Mother was singing to her. I was about 28 months old the day I realized I had never heard her sing to me, much less rock me in the rocking chair. My Dad worked at a bank, he had returned from the war and was thrilled beyond measure when he discovered he was going to be a father. And what an amazing father he was! When I came along, mother was trying to keep up with her friends who were all getting pregnant and she was determined to get pregnant too. What mother wanted was a Cabbage Patch Doll that she could pull off the shelf when needed and put back when she was done with me. When my sister arrived, things changed. She was ready to be a mother and it showed.
During the day, mother dressed me in a tee shirt and diapers and put me in a playpen on the front porch. We were poor and lived in a housing project. Daddy rode the bus to and from work. The routine was always the same, he left for work, I went to the porch and mother played with the new baby. I would fall asleep listening to her sing songs that made me wish she was singing to me. Some days I would stay out there all day long until I heard a very familiar sound……….my father’s whistle. He could whistle so loud that I could hear it long before I could see him walking from the bus stop to our street corner. As soon as I heard that sound, I knew I would be found, loved, held and fed. By the time he opened the screen door, I was doing a little jig, jumping up and down with joy for him to pick me up. And he would.
Over the years it didn’t take long to realize that my mother adored my sister and I was in the way. I don’t know when the spankings began. I just remember playing with the car keys one day before we took my sister to the doctor’s office. I lost the keys and they couldn’t be found. I got a spanking I still remember today. We had to call a Taxi to come pick us up and take us to the office. Later that night, when my Daddy got home from work, he noticed the bruises on my legs and arms and mother told him I lost the keys and she had to punish me. He gave me a bath, put on my pajamas and went into the kitchen to fix me some oatmeal for supper. There in the bottom of the oatmeal pot were the missing keys. After supper I went to bed and all I remember then was the yelling.
There are not enough hours in this day or week to tell the whole story, but the spankings turned to beatings and back then child abuse wasn’t openly discussed or mentioned. I wore long sleeve polo shirts and long blue jeans summer, winter, springtime and fall. I was always a colorful person with various shades of green, yellow, black, blue and purples. And sometimes I got a little bloody. That’s when I would hide under my bed in the very corner until Daddy got home to bandage me up again.
When I ran away from home to get married at age 16, I thought my problems were solved. She couldn’t beat me anymore. But sometimes we just move from the frying pan to the fire. Over the years I tried to stay out of her way. I stayed hooked to my Daddy’s hip like a piece of fuzz on Velcro. With this constant abuse came the fighting, more abuse and ultimately the rebellion. I was angry and lashed out many times telling her not to hit me again. I even grabbed her hands once to keep her from hitting me in the back with a frying pan. If I hadn’t been standing in front of a mirror, I would have never seen it coming.
Years and years later, the cycle repeated itself over and over. First the beatings, then the I’m sorry, then the gifts, and kindness until I had hope “this time it might be for real”. But that is when the cycle would start all over again. Now I am older and have children of my own and a flock of grandchildren. I came to a point in time, right after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 that I was done. I had given up all hope for us to be friends or mother and daughter. My Daddy had died in 2001 and I felt I was so very much alone. My husband was so much like my Daddy, but there was a hole in my heart that nothing could fill up, except my relationship with Jesus and He helped me through some very rough times. I hated the fact that I no longer loved my mother, I didn’t even hate her. The awful truth is that I felt nothing. I was totally apathetic toward her. And she was getting older and I was convinced if anything happened, I wouldn’t even go to her funeral.
Two weeks ago I got a phone call from her telling me she had fallen and asked me to call my sister to come help her. So I did as I was told and made the call. A little while later, I called to check on her and found out my brother was over there and the ambulance was on the way, her leg looked broken and she had gashes in her arms and legs from falling on the tile floor. Mother is 90 now and her skin is as thin as onion skins and it ripped and tore terribly. I prayed for her to get better, but it would be the following morning before I could get to the hospital to see her.
Everything inside me turned upside down and I burst into tears. There was this woman I had stopped loving and didn’t even like; small, frail and battered and bruised with a broken hip and leg. She had been put back together during surgery but she was covered from head to toe in bruises. There before me was the object of my apathy and I wept from the bottom of my heart and begged God to forgive me for not loving her and for all the years we had lost as a mother and daughter. I couldn’t undo the past, but I could forgive it. I thought I had, but the tears told me I wasn’t as cold and hard-hearted as I thought I was. I spent every day and night with her for 8 days and now she is in a rehab facility. It was a sadly depressing room and I got permission to fix it up and make it homier for her. So off to pick out what I knew she would like….or at least I hoped she would like. A new quilt for her bed with pillow sham, colorful sheets to match, flowers and flower pots, photos for the walls and extra clothes for her to wear while there. Then we raided her house and brought in her recliner, television and two small tables and a book shelf. I collected slippers, clothes, pictures of the family and especially ones of her and Daddy. I gathered her Bible, Daily Devotional Book and diary and took them to her. When we left, it didn’t look like the same room. It was light and cheery and I felt great about it.
For the first time in years, Mother told me she loved me and she would miss me, she is ready to go Home to live with Jesus. I’m not ready to give her up, but she is in such pain and suffering and she is so alone now. She prays to die every day and I pray God’s merciful grace was so patient and longsuffering that I not only forgive her, I don’t want to even think of the past. What time we have left I want it to be filled with joy, peace, love and forgiveness. I forgave her years ago, but the memories and the pain never went away. I don’t feel it now, it’s gone. Like a heavy black cloud over my life for all these years, I’m finally at peace with her and myself. She could get mad at me tomorrow, and that will be okay….she is too old to change, but I am not. I still have time to love her and tell her how much I do and mean it from the bottom of my heart.
If I want to grow with grace in Christ, then forgiveness is a must. I must forgive those who have wronged me, and I must forgive myself for not learning the lesson sooner. People are in our lives for reasons and seasons, some stay forever, some go when their reasons are finished. My mother gave me life, she gave me grief, but she is still my mother and when she is gone, I will miss her very much. You see, somewhere in her lifetime, her mother died when she was very young and she was passed from relative to relative and always felt rejected and unloved. How can you give what you never got yourself? Mother never learned how to love unconditionally, nor did she learn to forgive….she only learned she had to win, she had to be right, she had to control things her way. We have wasted so much time, but God is the restorer and He will give us enough time to make perfect peace.
My job is to love her, care for her and do it honestly after all that we went through for so many years. Can I do it??? Yes, I can. Have I done it yet? Yes I have. Do I feel it now? The day she fell, the answer is NO, but the day I saw her and how pitifully sad and lost she looked and knowing her pain was so great……..I can truthfully say that I don’t feel angry anymore. The dark cloud is gone and my spirit if free. Forgiveness is a must for all of us. Don’t let it ruin your life. Forgive the one who hurt you, forgive yourself and move onward toward the sweet spirit of light and peace.”
Thank you Amber.
When you can wholeheartedly forgive those that have mistreated you, it will be a release of spiritual poison and you will find yourself living a happier life. Do not let lack of forgiveness keep you from living a full life right now.