It has been one year on Mother’s Day since I last spoke to my mother. In that time my soul has been grappling with this word. What does it mean? What does God expect of me? How can I forgive while still protecting myself and my family from those who have hurt me, and would continue to do so if I let them back into my life? Can I really let this relationship go? How can I fill the void in my heart where all this anger, hurt and pain is? If they never come around, how will I be able to let this go? Will I be able to return to my Father in Heaven if I do not let my them back in my life? Is it possible to forgive someone within your family without associating with them? What should I do? What is best in my situation?
Obviously I’ve contemplated this often, yet I have had incredible difficulty finding the answers I was searching for. I had sought answers from trusted individuals in my life, but I was still feeling unsure. I finally received clarity and understanding yesterday, as I truly brought a broken heart and a contrite spirit to the Lord.
I went to church yesterday feeling so incredibly emotional. I hate crying in front of people, but yesterday I was transparent despite my best efforts. While singing “I Believe in Christ”, I could hardly read the words through my tears (which is NOT normal for me). I knew that my Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to learn, and that he was preparing my heart and mind to find the answers I was seeking. Through the course of my sincere prayers and the rest of our 3 hour block of church, I found the comfort I sought.
I had always seen the Atonement of Christ as a way to receive forgiveness for my wrongs, but I learned that is not its only purpose. Jesus Christ not only suffered for our mistakes, he also suffered for the wrongs others have done to us. This took several hours for me to fully let it sink into my heart and to comprehend how powerful this truth is. If we allow him, he truly can heal our heart in a way that not even those who have caused the pain can heal it. We cannot control the actions of others; if you give everything you have into an abusive relationship you cannot change them UNLESS they decide to change. Unless they let God in to help them make that drastic change, there really is nothing you can do to repair the relationship short of selling yourself out and accepting an abusive relationship for the rest of your life (unless you get lucky with a storybook ending). But they don’t have to change for you to find peace.
Understanding this concept gives me the hope that I won’t have to muddle through just another day for the rest of my life. If I can truly accept Christ’s Atonement, I can find lasting peace and comfort. Healing most certainly doesn’t come overnight, and there will always come times when feelings of hurt or anger surface, but with this lasting truth I finally feel like I have all I need to move on.
The other really important thing I learned was about what my Heavenly Father requires of me. I have struggled for so many years thinking if I could not find a way to let my Mother back into my life God would see that as me not forgiving her fully. I have agonized over this for far more hours than I’d like to admit (like I said, healing is a LONG process, and I don’t think I’ll ever be done!) It turns out, I was being way to hard on myself. I expected something of myself that was not required. I truly can forgive the wrongs done to me and my family without associating with the person who harmed us.
In order to forgive, we must wish no ill of those who have wronged us. We must let go of the anger, pain and hurt. We must leave our past behind us and look only to the future. We must remember the good and let go of the bad. (yes on my bad days I will be reading this and trying to take my own advice!) This takes time, and there isn’t really a set limit of how long it will take, but as long as you are striving towards these goals you are headed in the right direction. That being said, God has given us a choice: to let them back in, or to let them go.
If I thought there was any chance letting her back in would be a healthy thing in the long run for my family (myself included), I would. But as of right now, that is not the case. I do not judge her spiritually (as in: She’s evil, she’s going to hell, God will never forgive her…), but I MUST judge weather or not I should let her into my life, and to what degree. The judgement call I make to protect the ones I love (including my Mom) is righteous judgement. I include protecting my Mom because by no longer allowing her to tear me down, she will no longer have to answer for anything she potentially could do in the future. It may seem harsh or make no sense at all to some, but this is how I have chosen to protect my family.
I am still on the long road of forgiveness, and certainly haven’t fully achieved that goal, but I finally feel at peace in my soul. I am grateful that the anger I felt for so long has finally dissipated! I know that as I continue to work towards this goal of forgiveness, I will find even more comfort and peace as I turn my burdens over to the Lord.
My testimony has strengthened tremendously, I know my Heavenly Father loves me and is very aware of my needs. Even though I am just one of a multitude of children he has, he knows me personally. When I offer up my heart, he will heal it. When I ask, I will receive. When I have faith, I will be strengthened. If I am willing to put forth a sincere effort, and do the work it takes, my Heavenly Father will be by my side giving me the assistance I need. There truly is nothing we cannot do with him in our lives. I leave you my witness that God lives, that Jesus is the Son of the living God, and that you can do the IMPOSSIBLE if only you let them in!
I leave with you these thoughts in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.