Daughter of a Childless Widow

My family was very intellectual, analytical and scientific with an emphasis on logic, self reliance and maintaining appearances while denying emotion. My mother believed no one in his right mind could ever hope to be happy. How could a thinking person be anything but depressed in a world like ours? She was a perfectionistic, frustrated housewife who never wanted to be married or have children. However, that was her only way out of a past she hated. As her daughter, I grew up hearing, “Oh, to be a childless widow with an independent income,” and, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” It was the perfect set up for me to work harder and harder, trying to receive the love and approval I needed. Every birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day I’d ask my mother what she wanted. Her answer was always the one thing beyond my ability to give her, “Peace and quiet.” It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I could not please her or win her approval. I was an inconvenience at best. Although a relative on my father’s side about two hundred years before had written hymns in the Hymn books, my family walked away from God. I grew up with clichés like, “Religion is the weapon of the weak.” Christianity was especially despised and held responsible for more deaths (the Crusades) than any war. Even in the midst of this I knew from an early age that there had to be more to life and was a seeker. I looked everywhere except Christianity, majored in Psychology, and ended up in counseling, trying to find out, “What’s wrong with me?” Psychology was not able to help me, and I kept getting more and more depressed. Every time I saw a counselor, my past would get stirred up, but there would be no peace or resolution. Fortunately, our God is God of the impossible, and he is relentless in his love for and pursuit of us. I finally met him when I experienced a peace I’d searched for my whole life and never found. In that moment I repeated after the stranger on the phone, “Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner and you sent your Son to die for me so that I could be saved. Please forgive my sins and come live in my heart.” At the same time in my mind I said, “God, I don’t know if I believe in you and I don’t know what these words I’m repeating mean, but I’ll try.” That’s all it took for him to start totally transforming my life. As I read the Bible, I learned that the Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jer 1:5a), and that he guards me as the apple of his eye (Deut 32:10). My mind started to understand that I am special. The Bible promised that, “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28). I finally had found the love and approval I’d been searching for, but my heart still believed the lies I’d grown up with about my lack of self worth. Consequently, I wasn’t able to fully receive the love God was offering me. However, because I read that I could be confident “that he who began a good work in (me) will carry it on to completion” (Phil 1:6), I had hope for the first time. After accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the next most important thing I did was to attend Blessing Generations, a seminar now offered at Newman Conference Center (www.newmancc.org). I learned that I could hear directly from God. At first I was heart-broken to discover that there are seven times in life when it is critical to be blessed in order to become all God created us to be. I hadn’t received any of the blessings. But then I realized I could ask God to give me those blessings at the seminar. The mother’s blessing had the most impact of all. In my mind I saw (which was unusual for me) Jesus with his arms stretched out to welcome me at my birth. Knowing that Jesus wanted me settled everything! He brought back to mind events which I had forgotten and showed me where I believed the world’s lies instead of the truth, which is who God says I am in the Bible. Lies like, “You’re good for nothing.” “What makes you think you’re so special?” “You’re such an inconvenience!” Or my mother’s question, “Did it ever occur to you that you’re just a piece of chalk on a blackboard that’s been passed over by an eraser?” As a good gardener, God removed the very root and everything attached to it, and restored the truth. I am his “beloved,” “God’s temple” and “a saint.” In the worst of the memories, Jesus showed me where he was and his sorrow about what had happened to me. I knew the healing was complete when he took me back to painful memories and I could remember all the details, but there was no pain, anger or negative emotion left. I was free at last and able to abide in “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7). There is nothing better than knowing I’ve been adopted into the family of God and can now walk in the freedom he died to give me. He is the lover of my soul and more than enough. He brings love, hope and light in the darkness. He is the peace my mother so desperately wanted and I could not give her. Although she died before I came to know Jesus, I now have that peace to share with many others.