Your mother has briefly and generally explained your situation to us, having also told of the recent incident between you two, which, she tells me, shook her up significantly. You and your mother have had great conflict, much of which has grown out of her past sins and mistakes. I want you to know that you two are by no means alone in parental/child relationships with troubles and problems. I truly do not know of anyone who has been spared.
I dreaded each day, knowing it was inescapable.
For my part, as a kid, I was not wanted when born. I came early, the firstborn, and I seem to have spoiled my parent’s good times by saddling them with the responsibility of child rearing. My mother was only 19, and with her youth and ignorance, I was obviously a “proving ground,” which added to the undesirableness. Her mother was miles away and had her own problems with a large family, so my mother had to go it alone. We were living in the country, and when it came time to go to school, my parents farmed me out to my great aunt and uncle for a year and a half because school would be closer.
The experience was bittersweet. While they doted on me, not having children of their own, I was very homesick for my parents, lonely, with no toys and no children to play with. My aunt and uncle believed in eating, and fed me treats until by age seven, I was twice the weight I should have been. As a result, I was teased and shunned in school. I was also wetting and soiling my pants, which added to the disgust people had of me, teachers and students often together having me as the object of their entertainment at my cost.
Added to that, my way home was also that of an eighth grade bully, who never failed to torment me. I dreaded each day, knowing it was inescapable. Added to that, my cousin was on that road, and while in private he would be my friend, in public he stood with the bully and those who laughed and scorned me, so betrayal was always there. Parents of other kids also joined the fun against me. Why did not my parents or my aunt and uncle do anything about it? I do not know. I do remember that when I complained and they called the parents and teacher, it was explained away and I was not believed. It was hell, Mark; it was hell.
Finally, when I returned home to go to another school for third grade, accompanying my brother in first grade, I felt the sting of separation. It was more than a sting; it was heart breaking. My aunt and uncle had become my parents. I was separated from my real parents, who had not cared enough to keep me at home, and then from the aunt and uncle who wept when I left (though I did not know it at the time). I was torn. Added to that, my parents could see that I had grown attached to my aunt and uncle, and I think they were hurt or jealous, so I was always feeling guilty for not loving my parents above my aunt and uncle.
Disobeying God is where hell begins, and obeying Him is where it ends.
Furthermore, my parents constantly fought. For example, one day they were arguing as to whether one urinates or defecates first when going to the toilet! They got so angry, dad got physical with my mother. I cut in, at about age 8 or 9, and shouted, “How stupid can you two be?! Arguing and fighting over whether somebody pisses or shits first at the toilet!” Still angry, and dad almost turning on me with his wrath, they stopped fighting, told me to shut up, and went their way. They did not hurt me, not having the heart to do so, knowing they were so foolish. I relate this story to give you a sample of the kind of atmosphere in which I was raised. Do not get me wrong; there were some happy moments, and it was not all hell, but mostly, it was.
Yet have not all of us, at one time or another, been that way? Anger has no reason. Those apart from Christ are bound by their sins. My parents were no different from anybody else. Oh, they had religion (Catholic), but they too were a product of their parents, who were a product of theirs, all the way down to Adam, who sinned in the Garden of Eden, disobeying God. Disobeying God is where hell begins, and obeying Him is where it ends.
In later years when troubles would come, my mother blamed me. One day while I was living in Winnipeg, a city two hundred miles away from home, my brother went on a “fun spree” and, with a friend, shot up the town at night with a pellet gun…parking meters, car windows, the exhibition pavilion windows, that sort of thing. My mother was on the phone telling me I was responsible! I could not have been further removed from the incident, whether in word or deed. I was often blamed for, or suspected of, many things.
She had a nervous breakdown somewhere in those years, blamed it on me, and refused to see me at the hospital, giving the doctor instructions to keep me away. When my father told me of this, I was shocked, confused and very hurt. I knew that I was not a candidate for “The Best Behaved Kid” in the town or the block or even the house with four siblings, but I honestly did not know what I had done that would drive her or anyone to a breakdown. Nobody really could tell me. I was hurt not only because of something for which I was allegedly responsible, but I was hurting for my mother, who was hurting. When I tried to make amends, it was hopeless. There was no forgiveness, no give, no understanding, no love, nothing. Mark, life was shit. I need not put it any other way. “Call a spade a spade.”
All that had happened in my life, all the suffering, had been with purpose.
We were always poor, and when I headed off to college, I paid for it by playing guitar in bars (which cost me in school performance). Joining the Hudson’s Bay Company two years later, I began to earn money and bought my family expensive gifts, especially at Christmas. By this time they too had money, but I would receive something like a pair of socks from them. This would go on for years, with no points taken or lessons learned. I was always trying to be wanted or appreciated, but to no avail.
Then the Lord took a hold of my life (you can read about it in brief here: Our Testimonies). My life was miraculously turned around, but it took years, even decades after Jesus Christ first appeared to me, to realize the following:
All that had happened in my life until then (and since), all the suffering, shame, heartbreak, poverty, separation from parents, ostracism, loneliness, and all the negatives in all my years had been with purpose.
Going to the Bible, you will find that Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son, suffered at the hands of his older brothers. Envious, they had sought to kill him, but kidnapped him instead, and made some money by selling him as a slave. At age 17, he was suddenly, without warning or preparation, cut off from his father for over two decades, which father doted on him, and Joseph was made a slave and prisoner in Egypt.
But good came of it – because God was behind it all the time (Read about it all in Genesis 37 and following). So I realized that all the suffering I had gone through served a purpose. God was in it all the time. It was all meant to be, for good (God is over both good and evil). When Joseph was eventually ruler in Egypt, and his brothers came to him for food, did he take revenge? He was certainly in a position to do so. Was he bitter? No. He had understanding from God. This is what he said to them:
Genesis 45:4-11 MKJV
(4) And Joseph said to his brothers, Please come near me. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.
(5) And now do not be grieved, nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here. For God sent me before you to preserve life.
(6) For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be no plowing nor harvest.
(7) And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
(8) And now you did not send me here, but God. And He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler over all the land of Egypt.
(9) Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, So says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me, do not wait.
(10) And you shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your sons and your sons’ sons, and your flocks, and your herds, and all that you have.
(11) And I will nourish you there, for there are still five years of famine, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty.
Joseph also said this:
“And Joseph said to them, Do not fear. For am I in the place of God? But as for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save a great many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).
God has been faithful and has given me peace and joy.
Mark, please read all that I have given you here. I must confess that during all those years, I was not gracious or forgiving to my parents. I was resentful to them for “all they had done to me,” for not loving me, for all the perceived wrongs they had committed. Now, understanding that all these things were purposed for good, I am so sorry that I treated my parents and others the way I did, justified or not (and I was not). I am in regret not for what they did to me, but for what I did to them. I had lived a life of seeing myself as a victim, but now I see that, like everybody else, like every human being that ever lived on the face of this earth, I had been a perpetrator. Please read Victims and Perpetrators.
Am I burdened with that regret? Though I have it, God has been faithful and has given me peace and joy. He has given me victory in this world. He has been good to me. Your mother would, I think, readily admit to her wrongs, and how they impacted you, and I doubt there is a day wherein she is not sorry for what she has done. You need to forgive, whether it is perfectly obvious that she was or is at fault or not.
Recognize that she was under the wrath of God all her life, brought on by her parents. She, as you, was a victim of her circumstances, but the only way out is to confess yourself not a victim, but a sinner, a perpetrator. Jesus said, “If you will not forgive those who have wronged you, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you.” You will regret it if you do not forgive. I guarantee it. That goes not only for your unworthy mother, but your father, your stepfathers, your siblings, employers, friends, and everyone else. None of us is worthy, not I, not you, not anyone. God alone is worthy.
God wants us to steer clear of destroying ourselves – FORGIVE.
You want a new life? You want peace? You want victory? Forgive. It starts there. Genuinely, permanently, completely forgive everybody. If you can’t find it to forgive, then ask God to help you. If you mean it, for the right reasons (simply because it is the right thing to do), He will answer, and you will be on your way to Life. Right now, let’s face it, you are dead, and that will never change (except on the surface or in appearance), until you hear and believe what I am saying to you.
The other thing you must set yourself to do is make things right with all those who have not forgiven you, with those whom you have offended or abused in some way. Jesus Christ forgave us though we cost Him His life (we were taking it from Him while He was giving it to us… ironic, huh?). We must forgive and seek forgiveness.
Never mind your being a victim. Never mind that people did not treat you right. Never mind that your mother was not a model mother, or far from it. I no longer have ill will toward anyone. I only want their good. Those who do evil do not understand. They do not know what they are doing, and believe me, they will suffer the consequences.
You need not be concerned about that. You think your mother is not suffering the consequences of her past sins? Of course she is! All do. The Bible is very clear on that. That is why God disallows us revenge or retribution. He wants us to steer clear of destroying ourselves, and tells us how to do it – FORGIVE. Nothing else avails.
Father, I ask You to give Mark forgiveness for others. I ask that You will show him mercy as he shows mercy to others. Thank You. The Lord grant you both repentance and grace. Carol, could you please pass this letter on to Mark? Mark, your mother had nothing to do with this letter, except to pass it on to you, if she passes it on, which I hope and expect she will.