Hello again! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another testimony about overcoming emotional difficulties. I don’t have another person lined up, so I am going to dish on myself. So here we go…
It’s kinda tough to pick just one experience that I’ve had in the past 22 years that highlights an emotional difficulty that I have overcome because a) there are so many, and b) they are all interconnected which makes them complex and difficult to articulate clearly.
I have mentioned that my mother was an addict. Her last addiction was prescription painkillers, which ended up taking her life in a (presumably) accidental overdose. She was secretive about her addiction, and it was not immediately obvious to me because I had no knowledge about addiction during my childhood. However, the symptoms of her addiction problem were usually at the forefront of her parenting because she was either at best confusing, or, at worst, abusive.
For example, my mother would periodically become very angry with the rest of the family. Why she was angry with us was almost always a mystery. One of the confusing things she would do during these random periods of mystery anger was to not let my sister and I do the weekly cleaning. She would storm around, bang things, with a face screwed up in anger doing the cleaning. I would feel awkward and strange. I was afraid to say anything to mother for fear of upsetting her further. Richelle and I walked around as if the floor was made of nails (sharp side up) while giving each other furtive looks of confusion and despair. After a few hours of this, I would be practically begging for her to let me do the cleaning. Anything to ease the stress and tension I felt. Then, just as mysteriously, she would get over it. Very occasionally there was some kind of discussion that really didn’t make any sense or have anything to do with reality.
As a child, these sorts of events caused confusion and fear. This started embers burning in my soul that would smolder into my adulthood. As I began working through the hurts of my childhood in counseling, I began to see my mother’s transgressions with anger, hurt, disappointment, and frustration. These emotions ignited the long- burning embers from adolescence into raging flames. It took a lot of years, and work, before I could even consider forgiving my mother.
For me, forgiving my mother meant giving up the right to be angry with her. And believe me, I had felt I had every right to be angry with her for her transgressions. I think some of you may even agree with me. However, if unleashed, my anger could be a destructive force that wreak havoc in most areas in life. I was deeply invested in my rights. So much so, that God, in His infinite wisdom, had to work every angle to help me to see that holding things against my mother was actually holding myself prisoner to my own anger. He had some pretty huge mountains to move. Fiery, raging, burning volcanos. He showed me that I would be paying the consequences for my for my self-righteous attitude, like so much volcanic ash. I would end up psychologically and spiritually dead, like those poor people on Pompeii.
As God labored to show me the truth, the light began breaking through my eyes, which were tightly shut against it. Truth always stand the test of time, regardless of what we think or feel about it. I eventually knew I had a choice to make. On one hand, my right to be angry with my mother, on the other, forgiving her and moving on. Forgiving her meant giving up my rights, but it also meant freedom. Freedom from the burdens of pain. Freedom from the consequences of my choices. Freedom to live life to it’s fullest.
As you can probably guess, I chose to give up my rights. And, indeed, I felt freer. The rage no longer held me captive, torturing me incessantly, burning me from the inside out.
Today, I mostly look on my relationship with my mother regret and sadness, but, I am (mostly) not angry. If she were still alive, I might even attempt to have a relationship with her, which is saying something.
Now, it’s your turn… Do you have something you overcame that you would like to share with the rest of the world?