She was always angry. I wanted to love her, but she pushed me away. I didn't understand her and I didn't like her coldness and harshness to almost everyone around her. She swore at her children and complained about everything. Life for her just seemed to be one long battle. Anyone who came too close suffered the sting of her rejection and abuse.
Sometimes, it broke my heart to see her, so angry, so brutal to everyone around her. But, as time wore on, I just began to judge her. She's just plain mean. She just won't make an effort. She'll be sorry some day for the way she treats people. She's just a miserable person. It was so easy to condemn her; to label her. She failed to measure up to my expectations of who she should be. And she had hurt me deeply. I had every right to judge her. Or, so I thought...
It was much too painful to try to love her. Why would I put myself through that pain? She always pushed me away, just like she did everyone else around her. Better for me to close off to her. Before she did it to me, again...
It went on like that for many years. Every now and then there would be a little crack in the concrete wall she had built around herself, brick by brick. Was that her crying uncontrollably when she thought no-one was looking? What had reached her enough to make her cry? Was that fear I thought I saw flash across her face? What was she afraid of? Was that hopelessness I saw her struggling to overcome? I began to wonder why she rarely smiled. I never remembered seeing her laugh til she cried or spin around with joy, dancing and celebrating the wonder of life. I began to wonder – what had so robbed her of the joy of life?
As I began to respond to the prodding of the Holy Spirit to move toward her in love, I began to sit with her, to genuinely talk with her and to invite her gently to tell her story. I felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to just listen to her – just listen. I began to see her for the first time as a real human being, complicated, wounded, damaged by life and carrying around scars from her childhood that had never been exposed to the Healer. By her own hand, she had buried her pain so deep inside her, no-one would ever find it. No-one but the God who saw her fear, felt her pain, and pursued her relentlessly to bring her into healing.
In time, she opened up to me and told me the tragic story of her little sister's death at the tender age of five or six. She, as the older sister, just a little second grader, had been charged with responsibility for her sister as they walked to school one winter day. Two little girls, two little sisters, crossing the street that day. Out of nowhere came a speeding car that crashed into her breaking her leg and instantly killing her sister.
As she told me the story, it was as if it had happened yesterday. She could not stop crying. The pain of something that had been buried for so many years poured out of her as if it would never end. I was watching a seven year old in a woman's body, grieve the death of her baby sister.
Even more brutal than the tragedy of the accident that took her little sister's life, was the story that followed. Her mother blamed her. At the very innocent age of seven, she was not only grieving the death of her little sister; she was then accused by her grieving mother of being responsible for allowing it to happen. As if this little seven year old, wounded herself by the accident, had climbed behind the wheel of the car and deliberately run over her baby sister. It didn't make any sense, I knew. But to a little seven year old, not understanding her grief, she internalized her mother's accusation and claimed it as her own. As if to make it up to her mother for the unforgivable sin of letting it happen, she whipped herself with the belt of self-rejection. They never spoke of it after the funeral. There was no counseling for her to help her recover. It was a secret she buried deep inside of her until it rotted away who she was meant to be. She rejected herself and everyone around her.
As I watched the wound be lanced and cleaned by the tender Healer, I understood for the first time who this woman was. God revealed to me a woman tortured with a guilty sentence that had been chained around her neck when she was no more than a mere babe just starting out on the adventure of life. How like the enemy of our souls to intrude into this child's life and accuse her, steal from her, lie to her about herself and about her God, and leave her barely clinging to the life that God had wanted for her. Satan had killed and buried one child and killed and buried the spirit of the other. It was only a matter of time until he finished the deed and killed her body as well.
But, Satan is no match for the power of our God to redeem even the most hopeless person caught in the enemy's snare. How like our God to pursue her over a lifetime, never giving up the battle to set her free from the accusation that had taken over her soul and kept her at a distance from everyone, including Him. She struggled for the rest of her life to overcome the lies she had believed. But God had invaded her life and claimed her for His own. I believe He carried her close to His heart all the way home.
He gave me the incomparable privilege of being a small part of that healing work in her life. I was and am so grateful that He allowed me to see her for who she really was.
I loved her deeply. She was my mother.
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 4: 17-19
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the width and length and depth and height -
To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God...”