I learned today that forgiveness isn't an emotion. That's what I had been looking for - a peace to pass over me, no more anger towards that person (more specifically, my mother). I could still have emotions when I thought about that person after I forgave them - anger, sadness, etc., and that was normal.
The next part was a bit harder. Grace is about forgiving people, the way God forgives us of our sins, completely, no matter what. He said it doesn't matter what you've done, God forgives us, and we should do the same for others, otherwise how we can expect God to do that for us? Yes, I get that part. But he said forgiveness was NOT about "enabling" people, such as enabling them to hurt you again. For example, so you're in an abusive situation or your spouse cheats on you, that doesn't mean you should forgive them AND let them continue to do these things to you, and continue forgiving them time and time again.
So where that gets hard was the last step in forgiveness, reconciliation "when it makes sense". That's the caveat, "when it makes sense". If I do truly forgive my mother and reach out to her, I think she will hurt me again like she has done over and over the previous times I've tried to connect with her, so doesn't that mean I would be enabling her to hurt me again?
Many years ago my counselor suggested I cut all ties with my mother, grieve the loss for her as if she had died, and discontinue trying to make contact with her. I would never have a positive relationship with her. So I did, and it's not like she was calling me and I wouldn't answer the phone, I just stopped reaching out to her and nothing happened. She just never tried to reconcile with me, I assume she has never wanted to, and yet I was the one who was abused. It's never made sense to me.
But many many years have passed since I've tried to contact her, she's never tried to contact me during this time. If I really want to progress in my faith, shouldn't I be the better person and at least send her a letter letting her know I no longer feel no ill will towards her? Even that might be offensive to her, I don't believe she feels that I have any reason to feel negatively towards her. Everything that happened went on when she was on drugs and she may have been totally oblivious to it all, as a matter of fact, she could still be under the influence of drugs. As a nurse, I find that hard to believe she would be so in her profession, but maybe that's why she became a nurse.
What would be so bad about sending her a very short, simple letter, and not expect anything back in return. I will have done my part, and can feel comfort that I tried. I have absolutely zero expectations that anything would come of it, except maybe it would be a good way to begin the healing process. Maybe I would stop being so bitter.
The pastor also said to pray for people you need to forgive, wish good things for them, and I know in my case when I pray good things for people, it completely changes my attitude towards them. But do you know how hard it is to pray good things to happen for my mother? I don't want good things for her. I've always wanted her to suffer the way she made me suffer. I try to see things through her eyes, but I just don't understand how a mother could let her husband treat her daughter the way she did.
It doesn't really matter, I need to find peace in this, it's gone on for decades now. I think Mark is worried about my attempting any sort of reconciliation with her, he doesn't want to see me fall apart. But maybe God is telliing me that now the time is right, and I should make the first move. I've lived so long - since I was 16 - without her in my life, having a mother now would seem strange, and we could never have a normal relationship. The trust between us would never be there.
I'm afraid to send a simple letter consisting of maybe 3-4 lines and regretting it later, when I feel so much anger towards her again and regret sending it. If I have no expectations, don't even want a normal relationship with her and don't assume she will ever answer or make a move on her part, why would I get hurt? The lies she must have told everyone about me, I can't even imagine.
I broke down at church today crying, it is such a sensitive topic to me. But the pastor gave me such practical life steps to take on forgiving, more than any counselor has ever given me. Counselors don't really give advice, they ask you questions and let you discover your own answer about what to do with their guidance.
I'm not going to do anything right away, I was born with two toxic parents, lucky me, but I don't have to live with resentment and anger my whole life. It's just...if I make a move in this direction, I'm afraid of what emotions it will conjure and if I can handle it. Maybe I'll wait and talk to a counselor before I do something. After all, the paster didn't know my exact situation.