I am an only child, or as I came to nickname myself in high school- a lonely child. I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas to a family that loves and cherishes me. As a kid, I went to church regularly with my mom. I’ve known both of my parents to be believers in Christ, but I found it rare to see them ever take up their crosses and follow Him in their actions.
I was a rowdy kid; lots of running around, screaming, and flailing. My mom was forced to deal with me alone the majority of the time because my dad was always at work. Even when he was home, he would lay in the dark cavern of his room for days to cope with his depression. This took a toll on the relationship I shared with my mother. My wild behavior was taxing on her patience, and by the time I was 13 it felt like she had given up on me. It was around then that she began to swear at me and chafe at my morale with insults and vulgarities.
Around the same time, my parents decided to make the long journey north and move to Minnesota. I didn’t know what that would mean for me, an outgoing kid who had had the same friends for the majority of her life. I was excited to do my thing somewhere new! When I heard that my dad would be staying behind for a month to finish fixing up the house before he met up with us, I was worried about being alone with my mom – not having school or work to keep us apart and the tension at bay. I was reminded of the times my dad would stay at work overnight, choosing to sleep under his work bench rather than come home to us. By this time, my family had stopped going to church, and I had lost any interest that I may have had in having a personal relationship with the Lord.
So, my mom and I hauled ourselves to the north pole to wait for my dad. One month to refurbish the old house turned into two, and two months turned into three, and there was still no sign of him. By this time I had begun to feel alone and in a completely foreign environment. With no buffer of company or school activities, I was forced to face the strained relationship between my mother and I. She began telling me she hated me. I had never felt that way before, like my own family didn’t love me. I couldn’t see what I had done wrong, and I believed that there must be something inherently despicable about me. I couldn’t believe my own mother didn’t love me, and this was when I fell into my first bout of depression.
My dad finally came up, and I started school; however, things just got worse. I had never needed to act normal at school before to be accepted, so I didn’t know how to make new friends. Then I would come home in the afternoon to a lackluster environment where I was even more secluded than I was at school. I remember feeling like the only thing that merited attention for me was when I was being belittled. I stumbled through the year, beginning to retreat into a shell I didn’t even know I had.
I got a job at a ranch for my sophomore year of high school, and it seemed like a beam of light in my future. I decided to enroll in online high school as a way to spend all my time there, and in doing so I isolated myself emotionally from everyone.
Around this time I began praying to God that he would give me somebody that could prove to me that I could love and be loved because otherwise I just wanted to die. He answered my prayers. I met a girl through online school. She was a Christian. She loved and served the Lord, and she immediately showed me the love that I was left craving from my home environment. I began to see where my love could be found, and I knew I wanted to bring Christ into the hollows of my heart. I prayed that His spirit would consume and transform me.
I know now that the Lord gave me this friend to equip me for what would happen next. I got into a fight with my mom as she was trying to teach me to drive. Things escalated and all the tension between us exploded and she said that she was done with me. She didn’t want to speak to me anymore. She told me that if I had to talk to her, I should refer to her by name instead of “mom”, and she wanted me out of the house. I was destroyed, and I wondered if I had again done something wrong that God would allow such harsh abandonment. Plans for me to live with my Grandpa never fell into place, and I was left in an awkward state of limbo in my house where I was isolated from everyone. I didn’t talk to my mom for months, and my depression was at an all time high. I was crying out to God, literally at times, asking Him why He’d deserted me in my vulnerable state. My friend helped guide me in this time of pain, and her and her family really shone with the love of Christ in everything they did for me.
I began my junior year of high school practically living out of their house during the week. Spending so much time with her and her family resulted in me staying involved in church, youth group, and mission trips. As I learned more and more and became more familiar with the Word and developed a personal relationship with the Lord, I was able to see my life through the eyes of Christ. Until that point I had been living my life believing that the person who loves you the most is the one who determines your worth. I’ve found that I’m not wrong in thinking that, but in thinking that my value comes from my earthly parents. Matthew 23:9 says, “Do not call anyone on earth ‘Father’, for you have one father, and he is in heaven.”
Even though everything about my experiences told me I was alone and unworthy of love, Christ sees me as precious, holy, and loved. Because of that, He sacrificed himself to save me from my own wretchedness. Jesus didn’t just do it for me, but for all of you, too. We are all corrupt and unlovable if we put our worth on the judgment of man. It is Christ who created us, and it is He who judges us. He who has held the very oceans in His hands and numbered every star loves you more than even those overwhelmingly majestic creations. He humbled himself to the grave, not for the oceans or the stars, but for you and I.
Romans 8:38 is a reminder to us that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present not the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from [the love of] God, [our Father].” A worldly relationship, such as the kind shared with our parents or friends, is only a small glimpse of what Christ’s love and grace can feel like for us.
And so with that, I would like to say that even though I now struggle with a lack of trust, fear of commitment, reluctance to be loved, and a dread of abandonment, I know that forgiveness is the only gateway to freedom. And the only way to that gateway is through redemption in Christ.
Since I asked Christ into my heart as my Lord and Savior, He has enabled me to forgive my mother. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle, but with God’s help, and a completely humble heart any relationship can be restored. I know that I can’t hold grudges and cling to resentment because forgiveness will not only set me free from the bondage of my shame and grief, and I am called to forgive those who trespass against me just as the Lord forgave me.