Bethany’s Story Part 4: Forgiving My Mother

If you missed Bethany’s Story Part 2: The Divorce, be sure to go back and read it so you can fully understand today’s portion of her story. The divorce definitely affected Bethany’s relationship with her mother. Bethany has some heartbreaking memories of her mother’s standards for her while growing up. We will hear about just a few of those sad memories from Bethany today.

As many do, Bethany had a habit of biting her fingernails and the skin on her fingers. She remembers her mother saying hurtful things to her about it.

“She used to say, ‘Look how ugly your hands are. Now you’re going to get cancer. You’re disgusting. No man’s ever going to want to put a ring on your finger.'”

Bethany’s mom would punish her for biting her fingers by putting mercuricrome on her fingers before she went to school to keep her from biting them. Mercuricrome is a bright orange substance that tastes very nasty. Embarrassed of her bright orange fingers, Bethany would just bite it off anyway.

Another way her mom punished her for biting her nails was by telling her that her hands were too ugly for jewelry. Bethany had a beloved jewelry box with ballerinas on it. One day, as punishment, her mother took the jewelry box away and Bethany never saw it again. Until..Bethany and I attended a party at Bethany’s mom’s co-worker’s house. Bethany saw her beloved jewelry box in the lady’s house. Her mother had given it to her co-worker’s daughter. Bethany was devastated! I could see the hurt of her heart through her teary eyes that day. Mind you, Bethany was in her mid-thirties at this time. The pain of childhood memories does not always go away just because you grow up.

Even through her pain, Bethany defends her mom a little..

“I don’t think she meant to be mean. She was just so bothered by me biting my fingers that she did what she thought she must do.”

All of her mother’s efforts were to no avail. Bethany still bites her fingers as an adult!

As Bethany remembers her relationship with her mom, the memories continue to flood in…

One year for Christmas, Bethany asked for a beautiful purple sweater that she had seen at her favorite store at the mall. It was one of the only things she asked for. Her mother bought it for herself instead.

When Bethany would talk to her father about the way her treated her, he would say, “Your mother’s jealous of you.”

She even overheard her little brother say to her mom, “Mom, why do you want to be like Bethany all the time?”

Bethany always felt like her mother was in competition with her. Her mom was jealous of her relationship with her father. After all, she WAS Daddy’s girl.

Her mom was also jealous of Bethany’s friendships. Bethany never remembers her mother ever having any friends-ever.

After the divorce, things got worse. Her mom constantly told her how she was just like her dad. And then in the next sentence she would say how much she hated him.

“She must hate me, too.”

Bethany’s mother kicked her out of the house, as mentioned in Part 2. Her dad came to the rescue. Then she and her fiance’ lived together with her dad. All this time, her mother criticized and condemned her daughter. Bethany’s little brother ended up living with their dad too. Her mother’s anger, pain and judgmental attitude drove everyone away from her. How sad.

When Bethany gave birth to her first son, her mother started to come around. Even so…

“She wasn’t there for me like I thought she should be. She was just starting her life with her new husband. She said no to me a lot. (About babysitting or helping me with the baby). It would upset me.”

Her mom would say, “Well, your father and I never did anything without you kids.”

“That’s why you and Dad are divorced,” Bethany would say back.

Bethany’s relationship with her mother continued to be strained throughout her adult life.

“It wasn’t what I would expect from a relationship with my mother.”

“I feel like we both wanted it and tried at times, but it wasn’t working.”

There was too much left unsaid between them.

Once Bethany rededicated her life to God, things began to shift inside of her. She attended a Bible study on “The Bait of Satan.” It was all about offense and unforgiveness. She recognized that her problem with her mother might be unforgiveness. Bethany is not one to make a spectacle of herself or be the center of attention at all. But, one day at church, she was undeniably compelled to go to the altar. That day was a turning point for Bethany in her thought process regarding her past hurts and anger, specifically with her mother.

“Going to the altar was not an option. I had to go. God did a work in me that day.”

Some time after, Bethany attended another Bible study. During this ladies Bible study, the subject of forgiveness came up again. She was flat out told that her problem was indeed, unforgiveness. She was advised to write her mother a letter, saying everything she wanted to say. Writing things down and getting everything out of your head is very helpful and therapeutic, by the way!

After much hesitation and resistance, Bethany finally wrote the letter. She wasn’t sure if she would ever give it to her mom, but just writing it down helped a lot. She prayed about what to do with the letter. Not long after, an incident arose between Bethany and her mother. Her mother treated her like a child in front of others at church. That was the last straw.

Bethany stewed for a few days. Finally, she texted her mom, “We need to talk.”

Bethany never gave the letter to her mom…she didn’t have to. In a phone call, everything came out. She says, “There was no meanness, no anger, no fighting.”

“I just poured out my feelings. I brought things up from my past that I had never talked about.”

Her mom broke down, cried and apologized for the first time in her life.

“She came to the realization that she needed to forgive my father. I wanted her to have freedom, too!”

“I was amazed that I was able to say the things I said and remembered to say them (without the letter). I know that God was completely in charge of the conversation. I know that chains were broken that day for both my mom and I. We have both gone to another level in our relationship with God.”

Bethany’s mom has completely rededicated her life to God and her marriage to her current husband has improved. “She has let go of Dad, finally.”

“My relationship with my mom is great now. I really wish we could have been like this long ago. I feel like we missed out on some good times.”

Are you dealing with unforgiveness in your life? Maybe you don’t even realize that there is a problem.

Bethany’s forgiveness experience was a gradual process. You must first identify the issue of unforgiveness.

“I didn’t think I had a forgiveness problem. But, I was still holding on to the hurt and pain from my past.”

Here’s Bethany’s advice on how to confront someone who has deeply hurt you.

“First, get your relationship right with God. Get your heart and your attitude right. Then, pray about when and how to confront the person.”

Is there a relationship in your life that is strained due to past hurts and betrayals? Be encouraged by Bethany’s story. There is hope. Forgiveness and restoration can be found!

For more on my own personal story of forgiveness, click here.

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

 

 

 

Ouch, That Hurt

Annoyance. Anger. Resentment. Indignation. Irritation. Exasperation. Wrath. Displeasure. Hurt feelings.

When you read the words above, did certain people or situations pop into your mind? Did you experience these feelings today?  Are you struggling right now over something that happened that you can’t quite seem to get past?download

Let it go. What is “it?” No, I’m not referring to “Frozen.” It boils down to one word…OFFENSE.  As John Bevere rightly named it, “The Bait of Satan.”  (I highly recommend that book, FYI.)

Let me be transparent, as usual.  I have maybe once in a while, from time to time, battled with feeling offended.  Offended for something someone said to me or didn’t say to me.  Offended for being ignored, overlooked, not appreciated, underestimated, and so on.  There are million and one reasons that can be found to become offended.  I mean, geez, I’ve been offended by the way someone looked at me before. I’ve even been offended by a compliment given to me by my husband! For instance, he says, “Wow, honey, I really like when you wear your hair like that.”  Then I say, “So does that mean you don’t like it how I usually wear it? You never say anything about the way I wear it every other day!”  Then of course, there’s the, “Are you calling me fat?  Are you saying my butt is big?”  I’m just going to admit right now, I’m one of those wives.  tumblr_ly4bftcwwv1qbh4goo1_500

For me, the offense that I experience has mostly to do with hurt feelings and anger. It’s usually because someone does not realize what I’m about or understand how I am. They don’t know what’s going on in my life, what I’m thinking, my insecurities, my expectations, etc.  It pretty much boils down to pride.  Ew.  Pride is just gross. Becoming offended is really about thinking too much of yourself.  OUCH.  Man, I’m really stepping on my own toes here…

I have been known to say that I’m not easily offended and I can usually pass it off that I am not. But inside, I get that little twinge of uneasy, angry, irritated offense.  I stuff it down in there and log it away to be added to a list in my subconscious. I am literally holding it against the person who offended me…my self preservation mode kicks in and I subconsciously swear that they will never hurt me again.  Walls are put up.  Relationships are damaged.  Instead of dealing directly with the problem, I stuff it and resentment builds.  Hurt me once, shame on you.  Hurt me twice, shame on me.

Now, I know many of you are thinking, “Wow, Susie is one screwed up chick.”  But, that’s okay because I know that you do the same thing, even if you don’t realize it or admit it.  I have been working on myself a lot in the past few years regarding offense and I have made progress.  You can too.

It starts with not taking yourself so seriously, cut yourself some slack, don’t be so hard on yourself! Know who you are in Christ, then you won’t care so much what people say about you or do to you. Then, give other people a break.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  When others lash out at you or say something hurtful to you, it normally has little to do with you.  Many times, it’s because they are having a bad day or are upset or insecure about something else. And most of the time, it’s because they are dealing with offense themselves. How do I know this?  Because I’ve had plenty of opportunities to deal with and examine these kind of situations.  

Overcoming the problem with offense is hard work.  It takes prayer, studying the Word of God and dealing with people and issues in a healthy manner, consistently.  Satan knows that if he can keep all of us mad at each other and keep us from having true relationships with one another, then he wins.  Let’s fight back and not let him win, okay?

There are many scriptures that address the issue of offense, but this one is my favorite.  It’s short and sweet and easy to remember.

“Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.” Proverbs 19:11, Amplified Bible

I want to be known as a person who has good sense, don’t you?

And just one more, because I do love the Word of God so…

“He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.” Proverbs 17:9, Amplified Bible

It all comes down to love.  How do I know what love is?  Because I have a heavenly Father who has shown me.  He sent His Son to die on a cross for me and my wretched sin, my offense.  All He asks is that I love Him back and love others as He has loved me. Truthfully, we have NO business being offended, ever.godsloveloveothers

And just a little side note…when God forgives us of our “offenses,” He literally forgets about them. Hint, hint.  If you say you forgive someone, then mean it.  Don’t hold it against them!

Let go and love.  Enjoy this beautiful song about God’s love.

 

Forgiving When It’s Hardest

“I can never forgive him.  NEVER!”  Words shouted to God, an oath sworn in the deepest recesses of my heart.  How could I forgive someone who destroyed my dreams, ruined my plans, stole my life, obliterated my self-worth?  How could I forgive someone who chose his addiction over his wife, his babies?  How could I forgive him from walking away from us?

I was repeatedly told, “Forgive.”  I tried. I really, really tried.  I said it to my friends.  I said it to my family.  I forgive him.  I even said it to him.  I forgive you.  Inside though, I was still nursing my wounds, trying to resuscitate my damaged heart.  I couldn’t let go.

If I forgive him, I’ll be letting him off the hook.

If I forgive him, it’s like I’m saying what he did was no big deal.

If I forgive him, I’m condoning his behavior.

I can’t just forgive and forget!

Unforgiveness poisoned my life.  With my new husband, simple disagreements morphed into manic rages.  Confusion engulfed my mind.  Guilt dictated my relationship with my children.  Anxiety and regret ruled supreme in my heart.  More times than not, face-to-face encounters with the ex rivaled episodes of “Jerry Springer.”  So.much.anger.  Somewhere deep in my mind, I foolishly thought that I was making him pay for the years of pain he caused me.  No one else seemed to be holding him responsible, so I would!

My children were hurting and confused.  “Why’s Daddy so mad at you?  Why does Daddy yell at you?  Why are you crying again, Mommy?”  I pacified my sweet babes with vague explanations.  So little, so innocent.  An understanding came to me.  My bitterness was hurting my children.  They needed permission to love their daddy without hurting their mommy.  I decided, I will forgive him and get past these feelings that were controlling me.  For my children and for them alone.

I prayed.  I read the Bible.  I sought wise counsel.  I continually spoke forgiveness aloud.  I forgive him.  I forgive him.  When I felt like screaming, I kept silent.  When I longed to bring up past sins, I held my tongue.  When I felt anxious for the safety of my children, I hid in the arms of my Savior through prayer and meditation on His Word.  I spoke kindness to my children about their father.  I replaced my negative internal dialogue with God’s opinion of me.  Self-pity turned into sympathy.  Self-loathing became self-loving.  Loving myself made me love others.  Seeing myself as God sees me helped me to see others as God sees them…even my ex-husband.

Through this process, I noticed my children were relaxing.  I could almost see the stress and anxiety leave their little bodies.  A load was lifted.  It was working!

But wait!  I began to feel less stressed.  Less anxious.  Less hostile.  The aching in my chest isn’t there anymore. When I think about my failed marriage and the events which caused it, I no longer feel anger. Or bitterness.  Or shame.  Or regret. What happened???   Is this what it feels like to be happy?  To be joyful?  To be at peace with myself?

I FORGIVE HIM!!!  I really, really do!  This victim became a victor!!!

At long last, joy and peace are mine!

Forgiveness is not FOR the person who has wronged you.  Forgiveness is for YOU!  Release them and release yourself.

Forgiveness is not forgetting.  My mind will not allow me to forget.  But now, when I remember, the pain is gone.

Forgiveness is freedom from the chains of anger, hatred and bitterness that steal joy and peace in your life.

Forgiveness does not always happen quickly.  It took me literally YEARS to get to the place I am today.  Be patient and consistent.

Forgive and be free!

And don’t forget what Jesus said Himself, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:14-15

Before you go, watch this video.  The words to this song were healing balm to my soul.