My mother died sometime this summer.
I don’t remember which day. I found out in the morning while I was sitting on my porch drinking coffee and watching my dogs chase each other around the Mojave we call the back yard. I did not think I would get a call from my brother telling me they had found her. She was alone when she died, sitting on her couch. She had no family to care for her, no friends with which to share her life. No one knew she was gone for longer than anyone wants to admit. She died as she had lived—totally self-absorbed.
I know this sounds uncaring— harsh even.
Rest assured that I forgave her years ago. I grieved that she was who she was and that I could not change her and then I let her go. The last time I saw her was December 5, 2009. She was angry at me then, as she had always been. My mother hated me. That is the simple truth. I was an unwanted burden, worth nothing more than the money the state welfare system would pay for my presence in her life. Love was not an issue, for she had none. I admit, I did not love her either, at least not like a daughter is supposed to love a mother. She held too much animosity for love to take seed.
When I was old enough, and with the help of good people, I let go of wishing she was what she was not. I had prayed and prayed for years that she would learn love; learn how to give; learn how to think of others; learn how to be anything but what she was.
She never changed.
This is a hard truth. Some people do not ever choose the ways that are of God. There are those who cling to their right to be exactly what they want to be, and what they want to be is evil. Yes, my mother was an evil person. Her life proved that and the damage she did to my heart played her life out. I still have scars representing what she did to me that reside on my body, my spirit and my heart. Those scars are long recovered wounds, pink with the reality of abuse, but painless in their presence. I no longer hurt over her actions in my life, for God heals and when God heals me, he heals completely.
I will ever be grateful that God determined to step into lives abandoned by earthly parents. He promised that when my father and my mother forsook me, he would take me up…and take me up he did. He came to me when I was just seventeen. That day began a whole new life for me, a discovery of what love is and how love acts. I have been immersed in that discovery for nearly 34 years. I admit, sometimes love surprises me, its unexpected tenderness accosting my sensible mind and reducing me to tears. Those moments are precious to me, for they are adult discoveries. Love, for me, is an elixir brought to my wounded heart only after I grew up.
I suppose they gave my mother some sort of funeral. I don’t know for sure. She had so few who would be around her that it may not have been worth the effort. I chose not to know, for I would not go. My mother forfeited her place in my heart and my life, so going would do nothing for my world. Her position stays as it has for 30 years.
She is a distant memory, faded like my grandmother’s childhood photos and not often accessed.
However, this God who picked me up knows the recesses of those old pictures. He sees where they sit in my fifty-one-year-old mind. While my pain quota regarding my mother is nil; a dead issue I buried long ago; my understanding of love still stands in the center of my heart, needing nurture and care as it struggles to grow.
The thing is, when one is not loved as a child, one becomes an adult with a deficit.
My life with God has been one long learning of love. Sovereignty has placed me in one situation after another with the same goal. Love. You see, the one who is love will not let his own be without himself, and to have him one must know love.
The death of my mother was the beginning of a sovereign act of love. My heavenly Father knew. He knew I would not grieve. He also knows that some things are deeply hidden in the photo boxes of my mind. He knows that I don’t get in those boxes, for they are situated neatly in the recesses of my past, covered with the dust of forgetfulness. He knows too, that those old boxes need cleaned out so that those spaces can be filled with better things. So, he began a process to draw me back into the shadows where I would run into those pictures and the dust would dirty me enough to make me want to be clean.
He sent me someone who would remind me of those long-ago days…those days when alcohol and anger ruled my world and hatefulness made my bed. I wanted to run when the similarities showed themselves. However, that Father of mine has an iron will, and what he orders is always done–even those things I would rather not do. He pressed me to stay in the place he had taken me, and he knew I would obey.
Obedience is proof of my growing love and trust. That much I have already learned.
I stood where he told me to stand. I watched as my dear one nearly drown in the horridly familiar demons of my childhood, and I prayed. I prayed God would show me my photos and I prayed God would free the one I loved from the pain of his. I prayed that I would be strong, for at 51 I know who I am, I know to whom I belong and I know my worth. I prayed that others would understand that though my decisions look foolish, I was being foolish for God and that I was going to trust him to bring me through all of it with his mighty, love drenched hand. Mostly I prayed that I could act as God would act in the face of things that looked very much like what once tried to kill me.
It took nearly a month. The enemy of my soul raged at both of us as we walked the road to freedom. He threatened, cajoled, begged, lied, tried to intimidate, whined, yelled, even tried to abuse. I found myself being called back and back to this place of bondage, and I went, because I believed with all my heart that God was about to free us both—me from my fear of that place and my beloved one from that place all together.
We made a promise to be honest in the process, no matter how hard or hurtful truth became. We promised to care, no matter what happened in the end. We cried a bunch. We prayed more than we cried.
I let the process take its place, as the demons I once knew so well presented themselves through alcohol and anger. I listened, I prayed and I refused to take part. To my surprise, fear was nowhere to be found. My heart was sound as my beloved one wretched out what had long been hurting and spewed out painful words. A death wish permeated the time, something common in the deeply broken that is really a cry for help in escaping the trap of pain. As that battle raged, I refused to give in and I refused to give up. I told the truth, I spoke the word of God and when I heard the lies I told them to shut up. Alcohol left the picture and sober thoughts began to do their work. It was one hell of a journey. However, in the end, truth, healing and deeply committed love did their work, and my beloved one found peace with the old photo box.
I expected, when it started, that I would be a mess. I thought it would scare me. I thought the re-presentation of the ugly would affect my heart and make me cry. It didn’t. My childhood reactions were nonexistent. Rather, I found myself looking those things in the eye and telling them the same thing over and over….I am a child of the Risen King, royalty and a member of the family of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. I simply stated my position, my Father’s power and my ambassadorship. Then I told evil to leave.
It did, which gave my beloved one a clear enough mind to think through choices. Would it be the way of evil or the way of God? Would life or death be the road of the future? Would God be the strength or would the enemy of our souls weaken and eventually cause the destruction he sought?
My beloved chose life. The days after the battle within ended were stunning. Everything is changed. Everything. Tone of voice is clearer. Facial features are gentler. Tenderness rules that heart now. There is a driving desire for the Scripture, and a clear mind that is acting on that desire. It is almost overwhelming to watch. That change is unbelievable. However, I was there to see it so I know that I know that I know it is real.
It was also unexpected.
You see… I had never seen anyone truly come out of that evil. I have seen promises. I have seen tears. I have seen raw emotion. What I had never seen is true choice. When it came down to choosing change, I always saw reversion.
The whole thing with seeing the real thing shook me up to the point of panic.
Seeing something you have prayed to see for 34 years is outrageous. I had prayed for so long I had stopped believing it was possible. I still prayed though. I wanted to know that God could turn evil around in someone, and I wanted to see it happen.
The days after the process of change was over were filled with head-spinning thoughts. I was plagued with the idea that it was all unreal in a surreal way. I waited for the reverting actions. My heart jumped at every possibility that it was all a farce. My stomach hurt as I expected to find that it was all a game being played. It made me testy. It made me accusatory. It made me mad at myself and the situation.
And it tempted my beloved one to give up on that choice.
I was truly a mess. Anxiety through the roof began to pummel me and I could not breathe. My back hurt. My head hurt. Mostly my heart hurt. Strange, huh? Yes, it was a strange reaction. It was also normal. Doubt is a natural response to seeing something so deeply spiritual, so deeply wanted, and so long in coming
So, I did what I do. I sought out my God. I knew that I knew that I knew he would have what I needed.
Walking on the beach in the still sunshine, I begged him for peace.
He said what he has said hundreds of times.
“Not everyone is like your mother….”
I stopped. Tears came.
I finally had my proof that statement is true.
My beloved is different. The choice had been made, but it had also been lived.
Life. Love. Learning.
In my beloved one, I have found the answer to a 34-year-old prayer. It is time to rejoice rather than fear. It is time for laughter and celebration rather than doubt. My dear one is free of the evil that plagued, and I am free to praise my Lord, for the offer of freedom and growth has been accepted.
I do believe I am going to keep praying that prayer. After all, if God could offer it to my beloved and my beloved one could choose to say yes, he could offer it to others and they, too, may say yes.
In the meantime, I have a celebration to enjoy, and a bunch of empty photo boxes to fill.