Asking Forgiveness - the Other Side of the Story
By Brenda K. Blakely
The voice at the other end of the line was silent. I was asking my mother to forgive me for being such a difficult child to raise. I asked her to forgive me for my anger and judgments directed at her, and for my bad behavior reflecting my untrusting and suspicious attitude toward adults.
I didn't stop there. I went on to ask her to forgive me for not accepting her love or returning it because I had judged it to be insincere. I acknowledged I had made her life and the lives of others around me miserable during my growing up years because I wanted them to feel as miserable as me. I attributed my misery to my parents not living up to their commitments to each other, my sister, and me.
It was clear she had no idea how to respond.
Our family was so different from the picture-perfect ideal of family life that I cherished in my heart. In my early years we moved back and forth from our home to my grandparent's home to avoid my father's unpredictable behavior when he was under the influence of alcohol. Later, our family had to deal with the erratic behavior of an alcoholic stepfather.
God prompted me that that I had to forgive, or He would not be able to forgive me of my sins. As Jesus said, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matthew 6:14).
Thanks to the patience of my heavenly Father and the love and support of friends, I have been able to see my life from a different perspective and forgive everyone involved. As I experienced healing through my relationship with God, I realized that my mother had done the best she knew how to do in the circumstances.
Forgiving my mother, my father and then my stepfather were significant steps in setting me free from an unhealthy need to be in control. This also enabled me to regain a sense of safety and security.
Once this was accomplished, God began to work on the other side of the story.
It wasn't enough for me to forgive others. I also needed to ask forgiveness for the pain I had caused by my behavior. I began to understand that I could not do anything about the actions of others, but that I was responsible for my negative actions and responses.
All this helped provide me with a clearer picture of my relationship with my Father God, and to more deeply understand what He had done for me. Jesus set the example - while he was suffering and dying on the cross, He extended forgiveness and love to those who had wounded Him. Clearly, I had not lived up to His example.
Of course, none of us can live up to that example on our own. It is only by drawing on the love and grace of Christ that we can extend unconditional love and forgiveness.
After the telephone call to my mother that night and my confessions of wrongdoing and requests for forgiveness, God began to restore our mother-daughter relationship. The tension was broken that night, and over time, mother was also able to say, "I forgive you, and please forgive me."
Not only has reconciliation been accomplished, but we were both set free to enjoy a special mother-daughter relationship. My relationship with God has deepened through this experience. And I am experiencing healthier and more authentic relationships with others. Through this experience, God has also equipped me to encourage others struggling with relational issues, and help them receive and appropriate God's love and grace in every area of life.
I'm reminded of the words of Corrie Ten Boom, "To forgive is to set the prisoner free, and to realize that the prisoner was me."
Brenda Blakely is a writer/ consultant with a Masters of Education degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Her works include the "Freedom the Price is Paid" project & "Green Pastures and Red Tape" workshop. Additional articles may be accessed at Faithwriters.com and in the Faithwriters 500 Magazine online.