I come from a broken home and that has manifested itself into broken view of God. I’m not the girl with an unreliable father, I am the girl, however, whose mother is unreliable. My mom struggles with bipolar disorder, a mental illness that that has stolen too much from my family. When I was born until I was about 9, everything seemed fine. I thought my picturesque view of my family was normal. But as I’ve grown, I realized the household I lived in wasn’t normal. My parents separated when I was nine, but hey, whose hadn’t at that time? It was just me and my dad. My mom had left, and life started to get back to “normal.” Having previously lived in Alabama, my dad and I moved to Ohio. After the divorce had settled, my parents had decided to give it another try, this try lasted a few months, but it ended worse than the first time she left. A few weeks later after realizing the consequences of her actions, she wanted the family life back. This try, however, only lasted a few months. I remember it was the Fourth of July and my mom dropped me off at my cousin’s house and promised to pick me up later that night, but the evening rolled around, and my mom never showed up. She was gone… again. After the second time she left, she met this man who she ended up leaving my dad and I for. Her new boyfriend had a son my age and, in her instability, she told me I was so ungrateful and unworthy of her love, that she was so glad she left me because her new boyfriend’s son was so much more deserving than I was. It got to the point where she would send me pictures of what she would buy him for Christmas, meanwhile I didn’t even receive a card.
I can’t say that I never doubted God through this time in my life, mostly because I didn’t know God during this time. But it is from this moment that this seed of doubt was planted in my mind and from then I thought I would never be good enough for myself or anyone I’d come into contact with. My own mom even told me I wasn’t enough. However, I’m a striver. I strive to be perfect and I strive to please those around me. For so long I have strived to win the praises of others to mask the rejection I experienced from my mom. But the praises of those around me didn’t fill the void I had been carrying with me for all these years. I still doubted how capable I was, how worthy of love I was, how essential to my community I was, all because I allowed my mom’s choices, choices I didn’t even chose for myself, define me for far too long.
I’m not telling you my childhood trauma to paint my mom as this awful person, but I’m sharing this to show where our relationship has been but also where it is going. I hadn’t spoken to my mom in 8ish years up until this past Friday actually. I called my mom and told her I forgave her, that I was interested in a relationship with her. Leading up to this point, I have been going to counseling for the past 2 semesters and I realized that I harbor a lot of resentment and mistrust towards my mom and really most people. But hey, can you blame me? I remember over Christmas break praying for my mom and I’s relationship, desperately wanting reconciliation but not knowing what a healthy relationship looked like, what it could look like. I was so doubtful that anything good could come from pursuing my mom, rather I expected heartbreak and rejection. I didn’t trust God, the one who I definitely think planted this seed of reconciliation in my heart. I remember telling God, “God she doesn’t deserve my love, she doesn’t deserve my forgiveness, she ruined me.” And I remember after giving God a piece of my mind, this voice in the back of my head asked me, “Heather what if I treated you like that? You are so undeserving of being forgiven, but you have been forgiven.” And it was in that moment that I think I finally began to understand what extending grace should look like. I kept wrestling with this idea of pursuing a relationship with my mom because I really don’t feel like I need her in my life, the mom role had already been filled through my step-mom, and all she could do was hurt me again. I just kept doubting the work that God could do through me within my mom and I’s relationship. And every time I think about a relationship with her it’s like the enemy screams into my mind, “She is going to hurt you again. You will never be enough for her. Why would she want you?” I just couldn’t let my doubt of these “what if” scenarios dominate the hope of what it could be.
I can’t act like this relationship has been reconciled and my family lived happily ever after, because that’s not reality. But I think I’m learning to slowly release my grasp of always wanting to have control and play it safe, and slowly trust God who even started this far-fetched idea of reconciliation to do what He said He would do. God is not scared of your doubts, or your questions, my friend. I think this idea of doubt, specifically in a Christian society is seen as a lack of faith, but you are not a second-class Christian if you choose to be vulnerable with the community around you. I just want to encourage you if you’re struggling with doubt especially in reconciling a relationship whether that’s a parent, a friend, really anyone, me too.