By Jan Lambert
Mother had a vicious temper and was violent. She screamed vile names, and battered us daily. Father was emotionally distant, and critical of everything I did. They never hugged nor spoke kindly to me, mostly tolerated my presence. My feeling was that if I died, they would be pleased to have one less child around. This feeling tainted all my relationships including my marriages.
My first lasted four years. It took my suicide attempt to teach me that there were other ways out of an intolerable situation. The divorce turned ugly when my husband kidnapped my son and tried to gain sole custody of him, with the “unfit mother” clause so commonly wielded in the 1960’s and ’70’s. It was an attempt to force me to continue to live with him in order to be near my child. I was able to refute these charges and obtain my divorce, gaining sole custody of my son.
Eight years later, I married again. This man, whom I had seen as a kindly man with a good sense of humor, turned into another abusive person, and I was able to obtain my divorce from him without him learning I was expecting again. I gave that child up for adoption. He had abused me, my son, and I was not going to give him another victim!
Two years later, my son was arrested and sent to a Youth Services Correctional Center. He had begun “acting out” certain elements of mistreatment by his father and his step-father.
Three years later, I became quite ill. I had to quit my job at a university and apply for Disability benefits. I had to live on charity for four years while I hired a lawyer and fought for my benefits.
Thirteen years: Diabetes, congestive heart failure, Medicaid was called in. I was given a “daily” caregiver.
Four years later, I fell and fractured a vertebrae. The resulting MMRI showed that I’d had several other back injuries in my life that had resulted in vertebrae fractures, and the way they had healed put pressure on the spinal nerve. That explained the severe back pain I’ve experienced most of my life.
In between the husbands and before the illness, I was mostly happy. Friends, great jobs, time for my son, my horses, boyfriends, friends. I spent my happiest times riding my horses or just having fun with my son.
What I want to illustrate is that I have become strong through these events. I have learned things. I am no longer afraid of bullies. I’ve been bullied, stood up to them, and walked away. Maybe not unscathed, but with my hide intact.
I don’t have to trust people who are “supposed” to be responsible for my welfare and safety after they betray my trust. This includes parents, doctors, leaders, and teachers. It’s OK to make changes. And although we are commanded by the Bible to “Honor thy father and thy mother…” (Exodus 20:12) we can honor the fact that they gave us our life and the endless opportunities that our dreams can provide for us; then go on to make the most of the life we have despite their shortcomings as parents, doctors, leaders, teachers, etc.
I can get through really hard things without becoming bitter and mean-spirited. I still have my sense of humor, and I can be kind.
Forgiving others does not absolve them of what they have done when their Eternal Judgment comes; it FREES ME from the hold they had upon me. I had never felt this before, and it feels wonderful! I compare how I feel when I am at peace, then how I feel as I dwell upon someone’s unkindness. I choose to feel the peace, rather than that other feeling. When I have a choice, I choose to believe in the best in myself. I wanted revenge, but I believe in God. I leave it to Him (“Vengeance is mine; I will repay…” Romans 12:19; Mormon 3:15; 8:20 Book of Mormon).
Each trial has made me strong enough to support other people when I find them going through something similar: an inequitable divorce, a child in trouble with the law, or someone’s health fails them under the overloads of the modern work-force. Whatever benefit I have available: the right words at the right time, or some knowledge that helps ease their burdens.
“Opposition” haS put me on this path: to teach what I have learned; to find people who are ready to change how they think in order to change their lives. And to make sure we understand that the Law of Polarity will make sure that we become stronger than we ever thought we could be. Let us hope we also become kinder than we ever thought we could be, too.
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