In February of this year, I joined my first bible study group in over 25 years. The study is called "5 Aspects of Woman" and focuses on the role of womanhood, but more so on the way God views us in that role.
It has been a pretty tough class but completely worth the time and effort applied to each aspect. After each chapter, with our last called Lifegiver, the women in my group are supposed to write something that is called a Life Lesson. It's something about the aspect we covered, and how the aspect applied to us, what it meant or how it has impacted our lives. WOW ~ Can I just share that this one, was by far the hardest and the one that brought up the most raw emotions within me.
Below is the life lesson I shared with my group of 19 amazing women:
As I began this lesson, it became clear that I had no idea what it really meant to be a life giver. And as we studied this lesson it opened up a part in my life that I convinced myself was resolved.
On the surface when I share the short version of the family dynamics within my household, I always felt as if I was not being completely truthful because in my heart I knew there were many emotional wounds I was ignoring. I began to realize that the more I tried to ignore those emotional wounds the more I found it becoming a barrier in my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my family.
The last four weeks have been a struggle as we have been working on this aspect of our bible study. It has been a time of releasing my past and a path of restoration to the brokenness of my children and me. This lesson forced me to surrender to the lies I continuously told myself; I was not worthy of God's love or His forgiveness for many of my past behaviors. I found myself crying out to God (literally) to restore me and the individual relationships with each of my children. This lesson helped me realize my need to understand how God views me. What I’ve learned is that I am worthy, loveable and forgivable. I found myself meeting Jesus at the well of life and it was then I found myself, for the first time with a genuine heart of repentance asking The Lord to forgive me of my past and the hurtful words, actions and behaviors I had projected upon my children. As quoted in a book I'm currently reading it says:
I have a 20 year old son named Ryan who lives at home. He works, takes classes at a local community college and overall seems to display the typical behaviors of a 20 year old boy. I see a lot potential in him but, I also see his need for love and acceptance, and the desire to be taken care of. He too was another child I neglected to show love toward for a period of time. He expressed so much anger toward the person I was in a relationship with at that time to the point of a verbal and almost physical altercation. I will never forget the look on my son’s face on that day. At the time of this incident, he was 14 years old. I was home sick in bed as I heard raised voices coming from another room. Before I knew it my son was standing in my doorway, with tears in his eyes and full of frustration. I just remember sitting in my bed saying absolutely nothing.
I have a 16 year old daughter named Taylor. I tend to speak of her most because I spend most of my time with her. I'm always excited to share how shortly after I recommitted my life back to Christ, she followed. What’s left out is the road she traveled to get to the point where she is today. It was a road filled with the exposure of my foolish behaviors. I was a selfish and self-centered person. My behaviors in the last six years of that ten year relationship deeply affected some of the choices she made in her early teen years.
In April 2010 after several months of counseling I finally was honest with myself and mustered up the strength to end the relationship. The day I came home after being away for the weekend and saw all his things cleared out of my house was the beginning of a new life, not only for me but for my children.
One would think my struggles would have ended there, that I had learned my lesson but almost immediately I found myself jumping into another relationship, repeating similar unhealthy patterns months later. After two years of ups and down in that relationship, in October 2012, I finally began living up to what it meant to be life giver to my children. It was when I surrendered my life back to Christ that I could begin repairing the damage of the broken lives in my family through Christ. Over the last two years (2012 - present) there has been so much progress in the healing of my children and my life.
With the conclusion of the last sermon taught at my church on Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships - God's Prescription to Enhance your Love Life, I found myself feeling convicted about the areas of my life that needed to be addressed with my daughter. I needed to make amends with her for the things she was exposed to and the behaviors she witnessed by me. I found myself sobbing on my 25 minute drive home from church that evening because everything that was taught in that series, following the Hollywood formula, and all the pain and lies that are attached to that type of relationship was my life up until about a year and a half ago. As I reflect back on those years of my life, I clearly see the damage it caused in my life giving abilities.
This aspect really tugged at my heart. I had been praying for an opportunity to speak to my daughter and as the fallen aspect of Lifegiver came up, I found myself procrastinating to even begin the lesson. I forced myself to work on it one Sunday morning as Taylor attended the high school group. It was then that I gave it all to God; my past, my sin, my guilt, my shame and my children. It was also the moment that I knew I had to confess and ask for forgiveness from all three of my children with a repetitive heart and spirit.
I choose to share my story openly because I want others to know the redemptive power of God. He is restoring my family from brokenness. As dark as my past was, the day I turned away from that life and surrendered my life to God’s will He made me clean and He is helping me move out of darkness and into the light.
My choices have come with very harsh consequences. But those consequences have strengthened my faith in Christ and I cling to the promises of the bible.
I did have the opportunity to speak with both of my boys. I apologized to Ryan for the hurt I caused him. I addressed how he may have felt when I didn't support him in the many times he came to me about his feelings and I asked for his forgiveness. I also spoke to my oldest son Vincent. He happened to be in town and decided to stay at my house unexpectedly for a few days. After Saturday evening’s service I made time to sit with him. I apologized and asked for his forgiveness as well. For the first time in the 4 years since he moved away, he asked if maybe he could move back home so that I could help him get a job and enroll in classes. He turned 23 on April 2, 2014 and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to start again with my children.
|Happy Birthday Vincent!|
As I completed the redeemed aspect of Lifegiver I went back to the beginning of the chapter and found this sentence to be a source of hope in my own redemption ~
I am thankful to each lady in my bible study. I am thankful that they share their struggles, fears, wisdom and faith. I am thankful they have made this group a safe place to openly share my growth and healing. It is encouraging to be connected with women who love Jesus and seek Him continuously. Each one of them is a Lifegiving gift to me.