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

 

 

 

Bethany’s Story Part 2: The Divorce

Bethany was raised in an all-American family. Life was peaceful, loving and wholesome. Then, as if this picturesque life was too good to be true, it all came crumbling down. Bethany’s life was completely turned upside down. Here’s what happened…

Bethany’s dad lost his job and the family was poor for what seemed like a long time. Her father worked side jobs to make ends meet, but it just wasn’t enough.

“Mom had to go to the welfare office and apply for assistance. She was humiliated.”

At church, Bethany’s dad went to the altar and received prayer for a new job. His prayers were answered soon afterward! What a relief!

Her father worked afternoon shift at his new job and soon made new friends. When their shift was over, they would go to a local bar to have something to eat and hang out. He would call home and ask Bethany’s mom to meet him there. She refused to go. She was angry that he would go to a bar, because after all, they were Christians. And she didn’t want to leave the kids alone that late at night. Bethany is careful to note that she and her brother were old enough to be left by themselves and the bar was only a few minutes from their house.

Bethany’s parents began fighting A LOT in front of the kids. This was something completely new to Bethany and her brother. It was shocking. Never before had she been around any situations where people fought. As mentioned earlier, her life was filled with love and peace. The fighting completely rocked her world.0001-Divorce-Court-Drama_litig

Bethany was on the phone with her friend one day when her parents were having a very loud argument. “I can’t believe that’s your mom and dad,” her friend said, incredulously. “I know, me either,” Bethany sadly replied. Everyone was shocked that this was happening. This was the beginning of the end of the family.

Bethany’s mom took desperate, drastic, manipulative measures to keep her husband. But her dad moved in with his father. This lasted for a short period of time, then he moved back home. Then, after only a few days, he moved back out. Bethany was so confused during this time. Her life was in chaos.

“Dad says he never cheated on Mom. Mom says he did. I don’t really know the true story.”

Bethany’s dad told her time and time again, “Your mom keeps accusing me of things I’m not doing.”

“I would like to think that my Dad didn’t. I think she pushed him to that though.”

After the divorce, Bethany’s mom was filled with hurt and anger. Often times, she lashed out at Bethany in response to her own pain.

“My mom took everything out on me.”

She told Bethany she was just like her father. She said bad things about him and said she hated him.

“If I’m just like him, you must hate me, too,” Bethany remembers thinking.

During this crazy period of time, neither parent seemed to care about 16 year old Bethany or her 13 year old brother. They were basically on their own emotionally and in their day to day lives. To this day, Bethany doesn’t know what her little brother was doing. She remembers that one day he ran away. He was found roaming the streets of their town. She knows that this time in their lives greatly affected him…and not for the best.

Something that still bothers Bethany, even as an adult, is her memory of when she passed her permit and driving test. Neither parent was there for her. A neighbor taught her to drive. She had always envisioned her dad being the one who would teach her to drive and take her to get her license.  It’s the little things that matter to kids. When the time came for Bethany’s own teenage son to get his license, she made sure he had the experience with his driving test that she never had. Everything that happened to Bethany during and after her parents’ divorce affects how she parents her own children. Do you do that too? You want to give your kids the things you never had, love them the way you were never loved, create a life for them that you always wished you had…yes, me too.

Bethany lived with her mom after the divorce…that is, until she kicked her out. She came home late one night. Not too late. It was around 11:00pm. Her mom never set a curfew and she didn’t really know how late was too late. “I  honestly didn’t think she cared when I came home.”  She had been out with two friends, one of them being a guy (John). John was a very good friend to Bethany. He brought her home and witnessed her mom freaking out. This particular night, out of the blue, her mom wanted to be all motherly and care about a curfew. Completely irate and irrational, she kicked Bethany out of her home! Her mom called John’s dad and “told on him” and when he got home he got “the crap beat out of him.” She also threw all Bethany’s clothes down the steps, called her a b%$#@ and told her to go live with her dad since she’s just like him. She threatened to throw Bethany’s beloved cat out too if she didn’t take her NOW. Bethany called her dad and he came and picked her up.

“Mom told everyone in the family that I left her. She would say to my grandma and aunts, ‘Can you believe Bethany left me, too?'”

“I think they all believed her. My Gram never wanted to believe that Mom kicked me out.”

Although Bethany’s dad was not allowed to have pets, he sneaked Bethany and her cat into his one bedroom apartment. He let her sleep in his bed and he slept on the couch. And that’s where she lived until she got married…divorce

What a mess!!!! How in the world did this happy family get to this place? My heart hurts for teenage Bethany. I could never imagine my mother treating me like that! Do you have a good relationship with your mother? If you do, be grateful. Not everyone is so lucky…

Divorce is violent. No matter how “amicably” it goes down, it still tears at hearts and emotions. Divorce permanently changes the people who are involved. The husband, the wife, the kids, the grandparents, everyone. That is why God hates divorce. It is ugly and destructive. I know, I’ve lived through it myself. Even after moving on with my life, the stain of divorce still lingers. Divorce is a failure, a shame, a sorrow that never completely goes away. Divorce leaves a mark that only fades with time. Divorce is not any easy way out. Trust me.

After the divorce of her parents, Bethany’s relationships with her mother, father, brother and her friend, John, changed drastically. As we continue on Bethany’s life journey, we will see how restoration, healing and forgiveness are found for Bethany AND her parents. It has been a long road for her and it’s still not over, but WOW, God is good and merciful! I cannot wait to continue Bethany’s story…please keep reading and share with your friends!

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

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Chelsea’s Story Part 5: Cry Out to Jesus

The conclusion of Chelsea’s story…

Chelsea’s mother fell into a deep depression, deeper than ever before. And, of course, Chelsea was the one to care for her. She felt torn. She desperately did not want to leave her mother alone, but she and Trevor needed their own space. After all, the baby was coming. They finally moved out of her parent’s house, but it took her months to unpack fully. Every day, Chelsea would wake up and run over to her mother’s house to make sure she was eating and taking care of herself.

“After months of darkness, she brought light!”

“The happiest day of my life.”

Chelsea’s baby girl, Katie, was born! How she loved her sweet baby girl! Trevor worked all day, then he’d come home and go hunting or fishing in the evening. He never wanted to be at home. So, it was just Chelsea and Katie all day, every day. They baptized her in a Lutheran church and Chelsea started taking her to church on Sundays. baby-girl-clip-art-9Chelsea would talk to her mom about what she was reading in the Bible, but she would mock her and warn her about becoming a religious freak. So, Chelsea stopped going to church and she stopped talking about it. How sad. Thankfully, God had special plans for Chelsea and her girl years down the road.

When Katie was one year old, Chelsea decided it was time to find a job. They needed extra money, now that they had a baby to take care of. She found a job working just a few days a week, just what she needed! Chelsea also started losing weight and getting the attention she so craved.

“I was sick of being fat all my life. The more weight I lost, the more attention I got. I was starving for attention. My husband gave me none. I lost a total of 85 pounds and not once did he say anything nice to me.”

Have you ever felt ignored or simply “not noticed” by your husband? I think we all have at one time or another. Be careful during this time of self-absorption. Because that’s what this is. A pity party. A “He doesn’t know how lucky he is to have a woman like me” party. A “Someone else would appreciate me more” party. Anyone ever experience a party like this before? Here’s how the story usually goes…It always begins with “There was this guy…”

There was this guy at her job who did notice Chelsea and her weight loss. He was so nice to her, giving her attention, affection, and compliments. She confided in him about Trevor and his lack of attention. Kevin sympathized with her. Of course.They would talk and joke around all night. A man that could talk! Wow! Let me pause for a moment and explain something. What you have read in the last few sentences is how most, if not all, affairs begin. So beware, ladies. Beware.

Chelsea was definitely attracted to Kevin. She began thinking of him often. He called her one day and asked her to meet him for lunch. She had to refuse because of Katie, but that one bold call took their relationship to a whole new level. Kevin called Chelsea daily. They talked for hours. Kevin made her feel alive and wanted. The physical aspect of the affair began. Chelsea’s conscious screamed that it was wrong, but her loneliness justified her actions. He was the man who she had been craving all these years.

Chelsea left Trevor a few months later and she and Kevin moved in together. When the divorce was finalized, Chelsea struggled with a contortion of emotions. She did love Trevor. She had given up so much for him and it devastated her that he didn’t fight for her. I admit that I have struggled with these same emotions myself. Shouldn’t a person fight for something that they love and want?

“Through that time, I turned to alcohol instead of food. Kevin and I would go to the bar at least three times a week and spend hundreds of dollars on alcohol. We would fight like crazy. Sometimes it got physical. The more my guilt consumed me, the more I drank. I would get mad at Trevor if he was late to get Katie because that cut into my drinking time.”

At this point in her life, Chelsea’s story goes from bad to worse. On a chilly day in November, she found out she was pregnant. A few months into her pregnancy, Kevin went out and got drunk. When he came home, they had a fight. It became physical. He threw Chelsea on the couch. The next day, she started bleeding. February 18, 2007, three years to the day after her father died, Chelsea had a miscarriage. She and Kevin were devastated. If you’ve lost a baby, you know how they were feeling. It was time to sober up. The drinking finally stopped. Chelsea and Kevin, together, began attending church and they both gave their lives to Jesus. Tragedy will do that. It will bring you to your knees and cause you to look to the only person who can help you. Jesus Christ. And not only is He our Savior, but He is our Restorer. If I had to chose one word that sums up Chelsea’s story it would be restoration.

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Restoration is the act of returning something to a former owner, place or condition. 

Chelsea gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following year. With Victor, they made a happy family of four! Katie was a great big sister! Kevin adored having a son and things were finally right with Chelsea’s life! But wait, we’re not done with this story yet…

Kevin lost his job shortly before Victor was born. For two years, they struggled to make ends meet. Chelsea was still happy though. They had food to eat, a warm home. She knew she was blessed. But, if you’ve ever experienced a husband out of work, you know how hard it can be on the man. Kevin became depressed. When he finally found a job, he seemed happy. But after a few months, he started to change. He was angry all the time. He hid his cell phone from Chelsea and kept a passcode on it so no one could use it.

Are you getting that sick, dreading feeling in the pit of your stomach? You have an idea of what’s coming next…

“I watched him put the code in one day and memorized it. While he was sleeping, I took his phone and looked. He had been texting someone he found on Craigslist for sexual favors. I don’t know if he ever went through with it. He says he didn’t, but that was the last straw for me. After all the fighting and boozing, I couldn’t take it anymore. He either got help or I was gone.”

Kevin started going to counseling with one of the pastors from their church. He truly became a changed man.

“Our marriage is near perfect. He loves Jesus, I love Jesus and our kids are being brought up in His presence.”

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Kevin found a new job working away from home. It was very hard for Chelsea at first. Besides her trust issues, she is raising two kids on her own. Slowly, she has adjusted to life without her husband around each day. Finally (!), here’s her happy ending…at least until she gets to heaven…

“I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. As I grow older, I find more purpose and trust God more. If not for Him, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I have no doubt He was right alongside me my whole life, even though I never really felt Him. He brought me up out of the trenches and for that, I will forever be grateful. There were so many days I just wanted to give up on life. I’m so thankful that God never gave up on me.”tumblr_ldlgwkphlK1qeepnao1_500

What about her mother, you may be asking? We’ve heard how Chelsea felt manipulated and controlled by her mother, always having to take care of her, holding Chelsea back from discovering herself. She has finally come to a place in her life where she has learned to place healthy boundaries between she and her mother. I’ve witnessed this in her life and it is definitely hard for Chelsea. She still struggles with maintaining the appropriate distance from her mother, but she admits that things a much better between them now.

Chelsea’s story is so dear to my heart, paralleling my own life at certain times. My desire is that as you have read her story, you’ve seen the power and restoration that can be found through a relationship with God. Just like Chelsea, He loves you so much and will never stop pursuing you. Maybe you are in a place in your life where you feel abused, lost, lonely, worn out and used. Your Creator is lovingly waiting for you to turn to Him and allow Him to be all that you need. Parents let us down, husbands betray us, friends disappoint us, children leave us, it’s true. But Jesus will always be with you. The Bible says that He will never leave you. He will restore your life, redeem your life and make all things new. He loves you so much. Invite Him into your life today.

Once more, in Chelsea’s own words,

“God is so awesome and amazing. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of love He has for me. I couldn’t ask to be in a better place in my life right now. All the glory goes to Him.”

If you’ve been touched by this story, please tell me. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Chelsea. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

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.