I’m finishing this up by talking about the things I’ve learned about myself through this process. I have an Aunt who is just 5 years older than me. My Mother, her oldest sister, is 15 years older than she is. Just yesterday, we discussed the things my Mother had done, realizing that my Mother had told each of us terrible and untrue things about our Fathers and those lies had deeply affected our relationships with our Fathers. Mom told my Aunt that their Father (my Grandfather) had beaten the 3 oldest siblings daily, unmercifully, and often reviewed how mentally and emotionally cruel he was, especially to her. For me, my Mother told me that my Father was lazy, never worked and had never tried to or wanted to contact me after the two of them separated. Of course, when I was reunited with my Father, I found out the truth and I’m grateful that it happened when he was still alive. My Aunt, on the other hand, didn’t find out the truth until after her own Father had died and it has been difficult for her to reconcile the fact that she will never have the relationship with him that she hoped to because of those lies. She stayed distant from him believing the lies about his cruelty.
As the lies have unraveled, I have come to understand many of my own struggles: struggles with self-esteem; rejection; fear; molestation; loneliness; and, more. I’m also fully aware, in hindsight, of God’s hand over me throughout it all. He gave me my Dad back. He gave me a new family and a wonderful man whose fierce love for me helped restore my belief in myself so that I could then find healing in all the other areas.
For many years, I worked through things one-at-a-time. Although I was shy, afraid and had no self-esteem, I was still a fighter. I had rebelled against my Mother when I didn’t know what I was doing! As I let God’s love sink in more and more deeply, that same stubbornness, helped me go forward. Once I got a glimpse of what God wanted, I was determined to get it. It took a long time. Years to deal with molestation and my Mother not believing me. Years to deal with self-esteem. As I stated previously, I still have to do battle with fear but I now know how to find victory.
Sometimes the best lesson a person can teach you is what not to do, what not to be. That is what my Mother taught me. It also caused me to look at myself and take responsibility for my own shortcomings. If I am truly a new creation in Christ, then I cannot use the past as an excuse for my current behavior. I had to look back and cut spiritual ties with her. I also had to cut emotional ties and learn how to rebuild my emotions in a healthy, positive way. With the help of God, my husband, and close friends I was able to find freedom. I don’t blame my Mother for those things. Instead, I realize that she did the best that she could. Occasionally, the best we can do may not be good, but it’s what we had. As a result of all this, I am a strong person. I have a close relationship with my Savior. I am at peace. I am by no means perfect or complete – that job is never finished here on earth. But, every day, I continue to work toward the prize. I will not stop until He takes me home.
I guess what I want all of you to know is this – never give up. Don’t let the pain tell you that you can’t. That’s a lie. You can – just not by yourself. What you have experienced can make or break you – it’s up to you. If you choose to take it, control it and make it be a part of building you back up, it will. If you let pain rule your life, it will. It can be forced to play a positive role in your life but it’s up to you to make that decision. We understand goodness because we have seen and experienced the opposite – be the opposite of whatever happened to you. If someone was cruel to you, put it underneath you with kindness and make it stay there. Make it work for you, not against.
Putting on the armor of God is a practice in doing exactly that. When you make a conscious decision to put on the helmet of salvation, it’s the opposite of low self-esteem. God saved you because you are worth everything to Him! If you put on the belt of truth (God’s truth), that means that truth is bound around your innermost being – you are protected down to your gut and you made the choice to put it on and tell fear, “No more.” You can stand strong. There are many spiritual actions like this which require practice. Might sound like a “duh” statement. However, the problem is that all we do is read them. We forget to practice them. Our walk with Christ requires something of us – everything! But take it from me, it is all worth it. The most painful things I have ever gone through have taught me the most precious lessons and I treasure them. So, no matter what anyone has tried to do to me, I am the victor and that is what I pray you will be as well. Choose life and life more abundantly!