As I sit here trying to think of anything else to write I can’t help but be reminded of what someone recently said, “People need to hear your story.” My story doesn’t seem special to me, in fact it seems the exact opposite. I want to hide it away for fear I will be judged harshly by those that don’t understand. My story isn’t the norm, its not what society expects. If you’ve walked through a similar situation, you know its a story that will set you apart in the most uncomfortable of ways. A story that makes you question your decisions over & over, question your self worth & your value. Mine, is a story of choosing to distance myself from my own family.
I never intended for this to be my life. I’ve also learned that its not my battle to fight. Just like David knew it was God that would lead him to victory against Goliath, I had to realize that no matter how much I did, it was ultimately up to God. On his own it was unlikely that David could have defeated Goliath. He knew that God could defeat him though and he trusted in that. He didn’t go to battle saying HE could win, he repeatedly said God was on his side, he knew in the name of the Lord Almighty that he would find victory.
I had heard this Sunday School story many times as a kid, but I never applied it to my adult life until I heard a sermon on that same story. A sermon that asked, “What battles are you trying to fight that aren’t yours to fight? What Goliath are you facing that you need to trust God to handle?”
So what does that have to do with forgiveness? There was a lot that happened as a kid that I needed to move past. Our time moving around with the military gave me the distance and time I needed to grow, to see things for what they were, to extend grace and not hold everything from my childhood against my parents. I wasn’t perfect, in fact saying I was a moody kid growing up would probably be an understatement. I’m not claiming to be a saint, forgiveness was needed on both sides. I’m no longer the person I was & I had hoped that my growth would make the difference in our relationship. I suppose it did, just not the way I had hoped.
As we prepared to move home Matthew 18:22 was on loop in my mind. In the NIV translation Jesus answers Peter’s question about how many times we’re called to forgive by saying “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven.” Other translations say “seventy times seven” Either way, the commentary on this verse (in my Bible) points out that the point of this it that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone who is truly repentant. I thought I would be fine to just turn the other cheek when needed.
What I slowly saw was that no matter what I did, I was wrong unless it was what my family wanted. No matter how many times we talked and explained that I wanted to be included and valued, I was kept at a distance. Moving back to our hometown made me realize that being around my family simply wasn’t healthy for me. It always left me feeling like I had done something wrong, like I was a burden, that there were more important things they could’ve been doing. Big decisions were second guessed and advice was given that was not just cautious criticism but full blown doubt. Every encounter seemed to leave me in a downward spiral that would take days to fully shake.
I was constantly seeking Godly advice, asking What had I done, what did I need to do, what should I change? All the while praying that God would make a way for the type of relationship I saw others around me sharing with their families. Instead, things blew up. I took a stance on something that led to my Father hanging up on me, after saying I no longer had a family unless I changed my mind.
At my husband’s request I tried to move forward. But plans to talk it over were cancelled, excuses were made, stories fabricated, and the only person who had done anything wrong, once again, was me. There was no true regret or remorse. There was supposedly no recollection of moments I mentioned had truly hurt me. All I was given was more excuses for how they had acted. That true repentance just wasn’t there, so I decided to walk away. Not from a place of bitterness or anger, but from a place of protection.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. -Proverbs 4:23
It made me feel like I was crazy. Was I the one that had it wrong? What did the Bible say? After digging, and digging for answers. Pouring over commentaries, I decided that if I was going to honor my parents, I couldn’t be around them. I could forgive them, but it just wasn’t healthy to try and reconcile the relationship. I went to see a Christian therapist fully expecting to hear that my decision wasn’t Biblical and that I should put my mental/emotional well being aside because well, they are my parents. Instead I was re-affirmed and told “people need to hear your story.”
So here we are. You are not alone. Its hard. Its messy. The peace is worth it though! We are called to forgive, but forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation.