This is part 15
Start from the beginning HERE
Growing up in Christian circles, with Christian friends, Christian expectations and Christian judgement to go with it, sometimes when we struggle with dark and hard things, we don't share them, because we want to still fit in. We want people to know we are trying to keep God's standards, our family is still wanting to follow after God, and so we don't want to "air our dirty laundry" so to speak. But the only thing with that is, then you end up feeling like you are the only one. You are the only one who struggles with something really intensely and still wants to follow and love Jesus. You are the only one who has dark questions or thoughts when all is piling up on you in the middle of the night. You are the only one who doesn't know why you can know so much about how to be a Christian and what is expected of you, and not understand why it is so hard for you to live that way.
One of my core values in life is authenticity. I don't relate well to people who never struggle, because its a lie, we all struggle. I believe vulnerability is not being weak, sharing the parts that are hard for us is not just exposing us but being willing to say, "yep, I am not perfect, I still need Jesus." Because no matter how long we have walked with Him, how much we know about the Bible, how many degrees in theology may grace our walls, or Bible studies we have under our belts, we will always be needy beggars before the Lord. Coming to Him daily with our empty cups asking Him to fill it up, once again. Never having attained something, never having reached perfection, but rather always growing up just a little more, every day a little older in the Lord. Every year a little more sanctified.
I share this part of my story because I want you to know that you can have wonderful, loving, Christian family members and still all be broken and desperate for a Savior. There is a breaking away that happens in us as we transition from childhood to adulthood, and my strings were in many ways still attached to my parents. They were like little saviors to me. And it was through this uprooting process that God showed me that they were, just like me, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, doing the best with what they had been given. They didn't have all the answers and they weren't going to do it perfectly, like I expected them to.
I was well into my 7 month of being pregnant and God was digging deep inside my heart. And then He began to turn to something that was deeply tied to my pain and a root of my bitterness. It was time to address my issues with my mother.
I still kept her at arms distance, yet at the same time was mad that she wouldn't help me more. The truth was that she, nor any of my family members really understood why I was so broken and angry. But my anger was something I had learned from my mom, in fact. That instead of showing hurt and pain it was much safer to simply be angry. But I was angry at them because I needed them, I wanted their love and support desperately, I was hurt by their distance and misunderstanding and we all felt helpless. To make matters worse, where was God in all of this? What did He want us to do?
I am sure there were many prayers prayed during that time, especially as my mom fasted. But I believe sometimes when God answers prayers its not always flower petals and sunshine, sometimes the answer comes through an excruciating pain of looking at and letting go, and this was about to happen for me.
The night before I remember reading "God Loves Ugly" by Christa Black Gifford and she talked about asking God to remove those roots and that is what I had just prayed. My mom had come to pick me up because I was home alone and they were watching my brothers daughter at their apartment. We went over there and I had no clue I was about to have a huge life change emotionally.
One of my roots was that I had felt abandoned by my mom when I had my first son. I held it against her that she wasn't there relieving me from long sleepless nights like I had assumed was what she would do. She was dealing with the death of both her parents and was in a depression herself at the time, even if she didn't recognize it. The fact that I felt so alone during such a devastating time left me emotionally raw.
As we were driving I had begun talking to her about my scheduled c-section and that I didn't know if my husband was going to be getting all the days off I would need during my recovery at the hospital. Did she think she could help me out with the baby if he couldn't and maybe stay if I needed her to? Her response just actually crushed me when she said "don't they have nurses or something that can do that?" and told me of other commitments she had coming up during that time.
To her she was just being practical and planning but to me I was speaking to her as a daughter asking her mother to help her in one of the most vulnerable times in her life. Not only was I struggling deeply in this state of depression and emotional brokenness but I would have just had major surgery and had a new born baby. If I could not ask my mom to help me, I was as alone as I felt.
I flew into a blind emotional breakdown. We yelled and slammed doors and I could not control myself. This pain that I had been harboring toward her and who I felt she was supposed to be as a mother to me came spewing out like a bottle of soda been shaken for a couple years and the cap accidentally fell off. She had driven me there in her car so I couldn't peel away, I had my son in tow, my dad was in the apartment with my niece, a recipe for disaster.
I moved my 7 month pregnant body into the bathroom and locked the door and sobbed, I mean a sob that couldn't even come to compare with the many days of crying I had already had. It was the pain that was sitting underneath all the self hatred and all the depression laid raw, right there, ripped open. And I cried a sob that felt like grief, like I was grieving what I couldn't make happen. Like I was grieving for being too much, for being too vulnerable and weak, grieving for needing my mother and grieving my own inability to fix myself. I remember feeling the cry in the pit of my heart and it hurt so bad. I wanted my mom to love me out of my problem, and she was not capable of doing that. She didn't even understand my need from her during that time. She wanted to offer me practical solutions and didn't know how to just be with me in my brokenness. I just wanted her to sit with me and hold my hand and tell me I would make it through, and she wasn't made that way, she felt helpless to bring me a solution to be better. I began to feel I would be much more lovable and worthy if I were just a little bit easier to be around, was a little less negative. And, you know, I so get that. Being around broken and negative people is hard and draining and that is probably a big part of why I hated myself. Who can stand this neediness, this broken record of complaints and bitterness. But I couldn't fix myself, I couldn't just pull myself up by the bootstraps like my mom wanted me to, like I wanted myself to be able to do.
Some sicknesses you can reverse by eating better or changing your lifestyle, but sometimes you need surgery to correct the problem. This was the case for me in this issue spiritually. Taking my medicine was not working, and this was my unknown day of root surgery.
The day got much worse, yelling and festering words being spewed from my parents to me and me back to them, but in the middle of it all, God spoke to me.
this is your root of bitterness and today I am ripping it out.
So let it go, it is not yours to hold. It is not your responsibility to fix. It is destroying you. I know you hurt, I know you feel scared, I know you feel alone, but I am here. I will never leave you. I am your everything; your father, your counselor, your provider, your healer, your Savior. And here in the middle of all this pain you feel in this moment, I am here, to save you again."
And all of the sudden it wasn't just a fight I was having with my parents, it made sense, and sitting there and looking it right in the face and feeling the weight of how it seemed to crush me, a chain was broken off.
To be continued...
, by Ashley Jackson