Put your heart right… Reach out to God.
Put away evil and wrong from your home. Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more. Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon, and life’s darkest hours will shine like the dawn. – Job 11:13-17
I’m going to go out on a limb this week and expose a wound. It’s one I’ve been walking around with for most of my life. Occasionally it forms a scab…That scab has been protecting what’s underneath, but it never gets a chance to heal because every few months the scab is prematurely scrapped off and the wound is opened back up. Each time it’s reopened the pain is deeper and felt not just anew, but greater.
I’m taking courage in opening up about this for myself – I often feel alone in this, and in the off chance that I think it’s quite possible there is someone who’ll read this that is going through or has gone through the same pain.
When I was a teenager, I fell in love with old movies. One of the things I found remarkable about the stories was that when someone’s heart was broken the emotional pain manifested physically. I would watch as a once vibrant character just shut down, laid in the bed and died. In many ways, there are people all around us dying slow deaths from being heartbroken; never quite truly living because of bitterness and unforgiveness.
So here goes…Ripping off the band aid.
I don’t think there are too many people who don’t want the approval of their parents. I must say I tried really hard to get it. I’m not going to sit here and run a laundry list of my accomplishments, but I probably became an overachiever because of never quite hitting the mark where my parents are concerned. It’s also the reason I try to be the opposite for my daughter. I try to identify and accept who she is and foster those things she has healthy passions for and expose her to things that will sharpen those skills. Allowing her to dream and find her purpose… I’m stumped at just being able to dream. Probably why I’m open to trying new things, and find it hard to answer when questioned what I’d like to do, I’m trying to revive a dream that died years ago.
A couple months ago I realized that I’d been carrying around the pain of not being “seen” by my mother for a really long time. Instead of my dreams being noticed and nurtured, I was constantly told who I am supposed to be and not accepted for who I am. In that moment I forgave her, but not before I cried a cry of deep hurt.
I tried really hard to go with the flow and do the things that would please my parents. Then in 1998 I went and did the unthinkable. I decided to die to my people-pleasing self and just live my life however I saw fit. After all, if I actually died in 1998 everyone who I’d been trying to please would go on with their lives. It’s no easy feat to live your life without your parent’s approval. It hits you when you have to be in their presence, or you’re around others and witness the unconditional support they receive from their parents.
How do you not miss what you know you’re missing?
A couple weeks ago I reached a very low point in this longing. I forgive over and over again. I never stop wanting the best for them. At the same time, I want the best for me. We’ve reached a stalemate on just what that’s supposed to be. Their way of handling it is excluding me from their lives. My way of handling it has been putting on a strong face. “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Yeah right.
Even though I’ve ignored it, this pain shows up in my life and in my relationships in ways I hadn’t really recognized. It will keep showing up until I deal with it. Their rejection has caused me in some ways to feel unworthy of being treated better. It’s probably why I would take treatment of myself in ways that I would go to battle against for others.
Recently, this THING has been in the spotlight in my life. I can’t hide from it. I can’t help but feel that I’m being compelled to expose it. Call it what it is. I’ve cried a river these past few weeks. And then I had an AHA moment – it is emotional abuse. I hate emotional abuse because it can be a secret pain that if not exposed, the receiver may suffer endlessly in silence. It’s a silent killer…It’ll kill you (me) to keep silent about it. Go ahead and let them know, if not someone who makes you feel safe – THIS HURTS ME!
Someone very dear to me died from this kind of lack of acceptance. If only the person who mattered had said, “I don’t agree with how you’re living your life, but I love you.” Would that have saved her from wandering lost on a path that ended with her dying a painful and lonely death? If only she was strong enough to live without unconditional love. Are any of us that strong?
I never know what kind of reception I’ll get when I have to be around my parents. Will they at least say, Hi? Maybe they’ll give me the cold shoulder like they’ve done at other family events. I never know what I’m going to get. What I’m absolutely certain of and what I can know for sure, I MAY NEVER GAIN THEIR APPROVAL.
My relationship with my mother and father was so closely tied to my relationship with God that it became almost the same thing for a long time. I so equated my feelings for them with my feelings for God that I avoided Him and religion all together for years. However, everything within me screamed out, THIS IS NOT GOD! How do I approach, why would I approach God when I might be rejected?
But God’s love is so great, amazing things happen when He’s called in to pour love on any situation. I’ve seen and felt it; remaining open and hopeful. I’ve stopped placing limits on what Him showing up for me is supposed to look like and just letting Him fill the voids in my life His way.
What is helping me, and will undoubtedly help others is that when you open up about what you’re going through to God, He will show up in unimaginable ways and start ministering to you wherever you need His help. He will not play with your emotions. He actually wants a relationship with you. You’ve got to seek Him too. And that’s just what I’ve been doing.
As I said, I’d already resolved to expose this issue and seek help. First, I immediately sought the help of a trusted friend who could pray with me and give me Godly advice.
This is so hard, especially since we’re required to honor our parents. My flesh wanted to retaliate so badly this time, but my spirit said that would be so wrong. Yet again, the fight in me was for my daughter being wronged, not me (not the little girl in me). As much as I’d wanted my parents’ approval, I really don’t want to disappoint God. Also, a negative reaction only invites more negativity…So not what I want or need.
Next, I made it a point to attend a monthly women’s bible study that I love to attend. I wasn’t feeling going, but I made myself go anyway. I was so blessed. One of the sisters read out loud 1 John 1:5-7 and there God was again. Jesus is the Light…And by exposing the darkness in my life to God’s light things are made right between each other and also with Him.
In the midst of all of this, I’ve been listening to Pastor Warren’s series called “You Make Me Crazy!” I’ve gotten all types of Godly wisdom for dealing with difficult relationships… Not just dealing, but healing.
Throughout this process I’ve been going through this year of enjoying my new life in Christ, I’ve learned that Jesus came to comfort the brokenhearted. When Jesus read those words from Isaiah 61 from the scrolls as stated in Luke 4:16-21 and concluded by telling them that he’d fulfilled the prophecy that very day, I knew there was hope for me; that the broken places within me would be put back together through faith in him. My dreams will be recovered and revealed to me by Him when I’m ready to receive them. Only He knows when.
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. – Psalm 27:10
I used to excuse my distance from other people by saying, “If I can deal with my mother and father not speaking to me, then who are you?” Now God is flipping my perspective. I no longer need to keep my distance from others in order to be happy and feel safe. And I definitely don’t need their approval. Some day I’ll be able to close this wound for good. Some day soon.
Take the limits off of how God shows up for you and be amazed. It was outside of my immediate family where I learned to be affectionate, say “I love you”, and give hugs. Because I am willing to receive love, I’m hopefully breaking the cycle.
In my little family, not only do I give discipline and guidance, but I give hugs and kisses. We hold hands. And when she disappoints me, my daughter can come to me without fear of rejection.
“We all have a God-shaped void, that ONLY God can fill.” The only approval that I need is His, and He will not reject me. He loved me before I knew what real love was…Even when I do things that disappoint Him.
He loves you too! Each and every one of you reading this today… And so do I. Without conditions. ❤