Chaos: A state of complete disorder or confusion. The first stage of creation where, having brought something out of nothing, God had not yet brought order to the universe. This primeval chaos, often symbolized by surging waters, threatens to disrupt God’s order at any time. God sometimes allows a return to chaos as judgment. (Bible Gateway)
September 19, 2009, a tsunami named chaos intruded upon my life. I was meeting some friends at the Oley Fair that morning when I noticed a voicemail from an uncle. Standing in the middle of the fair I listened to these words, “Tina, your brother hung himself in his garage. He’s dead. Give me a call back when you get this message.”
My life forever changed in that moment. You know in the movies when someone hears something and everything around them starts spinning really fast and there’s no sound but it’s noisy all around. The persons whole world just crumbled and, though surrounded by hundreds of people, no one has a clue it’s happening. Yeah, it was just like that.
My brother and I were separated in 1978. He finally made the move up to Pennsylvania in 1996, the year after my first husband died. Though it had been almost two decades, when he stepped off the bus and we hugged, it was like we had never been apart. He was one of my best friends and I’m pretty sure he would say the same. We did a lot of living to make up for what we lost. I’ve never loved a human the way I loved Michael.
Three days after he passed, my mother, my two half-brothers and my half-sister were standing in my living room. I had never met my sister and it had been twenty years since I had laid eyes on my mother.
At this time, I was freshly separated from my second husband, the mother of a six-month-old and two teenagers, one of which was a daughter (insert sobbing emoji). I had recently allowed some family that I had ejected back into my life and started making incredibly foolish choices. Which included removing anyone who made any sense while I was trying to blow up my life.
I spent the next two years trying to convince my mother to love me, throwing a lot of parties and spending a lot of money I didn’t have. The result was a major dive into the world of depression. In January 2013 I was baptized, and so God began the work in my heart, life, and soul. At first, it was against my will. I didn’t ask for it. But God knows me better than I do.
The next five years would prove to be the darkest, most painful, lonely and saddest times of my life. My mother finally broke up with me officially in 2011, we haven’t spoken since. And that’s okay. It’s been one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced. From the pain of not being loved my entire life, to realizing, through forgiveness, that my mother is a wounded person. It became refreshingly clear to me that she was unable to love me because of issues in her own heart that she never dealt with. Some people only have the capacity to love so much and, unfortunately, my mother has a very small circle and I was not invited to it. And I’ve never felt better about it.
You see, through the pain of learning to forgive, I’ve learned so much about myself and other people. One of the most important lessons I’ve taken from these past few years has been that, “hurt people, hurt people” and that not everyone has the capacity to forgive themselves. I believe my mother still has major guilt about what she allowed to happen to me as a young girl; that she is unable, or maybe unwilling, to forgive herself for it. Maybe not having me in her life makes it easier to justify the things that happened in mine because of her choices. An example would be fully knowing that she sent me to live with a grandfather who raped his own three daughters until eventually one became pregnant. She was aware that he was a pedophile, but chose to send me there instead of leaving the man she married who was physically beating me on a daily basis for breathing.
That’s a lot for one person to forgive and I only hope she has, or will someday. I know I have and God made it abundantly clear that I did just that. I can tell you the exact day that this forgiveness happened and where and how. That will be for another post. It was a beautiful experience, to say the least.
So even amongst the chaos of life, self-inflicted or otherwise, God steps in if you allow him to and he will do such amazing things.
But, you have to have a willing heart to look at your own flaws, be brave enough to change the crappy things about yourself, and commit to giving everything in your life over to him.
That’s what I did after I decided I had sat in my own mess for long enough and that I obviously did not have the ability to forgive without an apology. When I finally realized my mother had been living life without a thought to the hurt that I felt, I finally accepted her unsaid, and likely unfelt, apology. You see, the only person who was being hurt by holding on to something she did to me so many years ago, was me. It infected every single relationship I’ve ever had.
God lifted the pain, the hurts and the feelings of unworthiness. Because I let him. I literally raised my hands and told him to heal my heart. And the next day I woke up and physically felt that healing. And since have been learning that no one needs to think I’m enough or loved, except me. I’m only as loved as I allow God to love me. I’m only as healthy as I allow God to make me. I’m only the woman I’m supposed to be when I let God into all the ugly and make it all beautiful.
And he does. You just have to ask. And really mean it.
“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth”. If he can do that, certainly he can help us with our stuff. How can I pray for your heart today?