…did I really just call my mom a dog? Part 5 of a series.
by Clinton Faupel, CFaupel@RemedyLive.com
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. – Jesus Christ teaching in Matthew 5:21-24
At 18, God saved me from about seven years’ worth of chemical addiction, and in one sense, this is “normative” according to demographers. They say that if you’re going to make a decision for religious conversion, it’s probably going to happen in youth.
Older people, less so. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’m so proud of my grandfather, grandmother and especially my mom. She’s no dog, but she was treated like one. Born into poverty with abusive brothers and then married my alcoholic, abusive father who himself was raised on regular beatings by his father. Verbal and physical violence were the lingua franca of my mother and father’s childhoods and adulthoods.
So by the time that the Lord of Peace visited me at age 18, I was very ready for a healthy dose of peace. Running away from my family’s insanity and embracing Jesus was hard for mom.
I said “Mom, I have given my life to Christ. The one who made me. I've given my life back to him. And I have joy now. I have hope now. I'm not escaping into drugs and alcohol and everything else. Now I'm in Jesus. Mom, would you want that?”
“No, I don’t,” she responded. “If you knew the pain I've been through, son….” And she would talk about pain, abuse, struggle and, perhaps most of all, anger. Deep, fomenting, quiet, gut-turning, anger. That was my mom, and when it came to matters of church, her anger seethed even more.
It didn't help that my dad's mom claimed Jesus Christ as her savior on Sunday and then hurled insults at my mom Monday through Saturday. Mom was worthless. Mom ruined my dad. Mom was a bad wife. Mom was a bad mom. And so on. So when her son joined the religion that had so inspired her mother in law’s “kindness” mom was hardly impressed.
In her pain, hurt and anger, mom would go on to collect multiple abusive husbands because she was raised on the notion that she was worthless and only knew men who were worthless. Anger was a constant tool used for defending and attacking, propping up one’s own value while robbing others in the process.
Fast forward twenty years. My wife and I are living in Indianapolis when I get a call from my mother, who is very angry.
“What did you tell your grandmother?!” my mother shouted over the phone.
A few weeks before this call, I flew back to Canada to visit my grandmother who was terminally ill. Three years prior, she had her own spiritual awakening in the wake of her abusive husband who not only stopped his abusive ways, but was now a regular evangelist at the local Curling rink. Grandma began to count the number people she had wounded in her lifetime and needed to seek reconciliation. High on that list was her son’s wife, but my mother would have none of it.
So, I’m visiting Grandma on her death bed in Canada and she asks about my mother.
“Well, she’s awful, actually,” I said. “A train wreck. Estranged from husband #4, in debt, addicted kinds of things. She's a mess.” I left it at that.
A few weeks later, she’s screaming at me on the phone, “What did you tell your grandmother?!”
“Mom, look, I just told the truth,” I replied. “You’re a wreck, mom. Why? What happened?”
Mom shouted, “Your grandmother sent me a check. A big check. Your grandmother sent me a bunch of money!”
I said, “That’s awesome! You could pay your debt!”
“She can’t buy me! She can’t buy my love!” Mom retorted. “Who does she think she is?!”
I said, “Listen mom, this is pretty simple. You can either keep being a bitter old woman who hangs onto her past or you can forgive grandma for what she did to you and start living your one and only life.”
Click. She hangs up on me.
Grandma started mailing letters to mom seeking reconciliation and in 2004, God used The Passion movie and a little Pentecostal church to reach out to my mother and she comes to Christ.
Like me, the change was radical. She had health problems that frequently landed her in the E.R. and she learned to shun her old anger and embrace her new lot by resolving that God must wanted some nurse to come to Christ, and my mom would have to be the gospel messenger that day.
Later, she worked as a night clerk in a hotel because she could reach prostitutes in the lobby with the gospel and pull some out of the sex slave trade. This woman allowed her Savior to trade anger for forgiveness and then even forgive her abusers.
“Anger is not going to run my show,” my mom resolved. “It's not going to define my value.”
I'm so proud of my mom. But my mom just a normal everyday person. Just like you.
Are you angry? More to the point are you channeling it in a healthy, constructive, life- and dignity-affirming?
By English: Cpl Erik Villagran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons