I’m a girl in her mid-20s, trying to sort her life out. I’m educated, on my way to finding a job and to deepening my walk with God.
I have a history of struggling with depression, and lately I have embarked on therapy to uncover what’s preventing me from bearing fruit (no interest in dating, losing weight, depression, job hopping, etc.).
I have to tell you that my relationship with my parents has been abusive for a long time. I had sought to forgive them, and the only solution I came up with was withdrawing from them. The happiest times in my life were living far from them (studying abroad).
I now live with my mother. I thought I had come to a place of detachment — after tearing our family pictures apart and resolving to settle abroad in the coming years. But my last therapy session has been devastating.
I’ve discovered that I am consumed by hate. It is a creeping, cold and well-hidden hate. But it is there. And I was amazed by the amount of it. I don’t know how to process it in a healthy way. I’m sure of something: I can’t stand living this way, but I don’t want reconciliation.
Don’t tell me about the “Joseph forgiving his brothers” nonsense. As far as I can tell, Joseph was willing to see Benjamin and his father. I am willing to forgive as long as it does not involve reconciliation.
I can’t imagine the kind of pain and hurt you’ve carried for all of these years. It comes as no surprise that so much of it has turned into hatred since you had no understanding of what to do with your deep wounds. You’re not alone, and I’m sure there are many readers who can relate to your story. Now, where to go from here?
There is only one way to get from where you are to where you want to be. What lies between here and there is a wall so strong, so high, so thick and so wide that getting past it is impossible. It is a wall of hatred and hostility that defeats all who would dare to attempt to scale it. It’s a million times harsher than Everest. It is merciless.
That wall has only been defeated once in all of history. But that one defeat has exposed its weakness and has given hope and victory and peace to thousands upon thousands of people who have experienced the tearing down of that wall of hatred in their own lives. They, too, are reading this with you and their heads are nodding in agreement, saying, “Yes! I have faced that impossible wall, and it now stands torn down!” They are cheering you on.
Forgiveness and reconciliation go together; where one exists authentically, the other is there, too. It’s true that reconciliation requires action on behalf of the other party, but from your standpoint, forgiveness requires at least a willingness — no, a desire — to reconcile.
I said that the wall of hatred has only been defeated once. But once was all that was needed for the rest of us to experience it. Here’s Paul writing to two groups (Jews and Gentiles) who had experienced that devastating hostility:
For he (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility … that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
Paul says the wall of hostility that is all either side has known toward the other is now destroyed. It was annihilated in the only way possible — Christ himself destroyed it. It cost Him His life to do it, but it was done once for all.
The simple fact is (and you’ve already discovered this) that in your own strength you have no power to destroy the hatred you feel toward your family. It will only eat you alive, as it has so many others who lived (and live) in the dark world of depression, anxiety and hostility.
This is what makes the good news of the Gospel good news. Christ, who made the universe and holds it in His hands, invades our heart, destroys our hatred, washes us with His blazing love, and makes all things new. Incredibly, He uses all that has happened in our lives for good. Read that last phrase again: all for good.
Bear in mind that you have an enemy, and Satan will do everything to convince you that forgiveness and reconciliation are impossible and that hatred is your lot in life.
Don’t believe that lie. Take those lies captive and tell yourself that it’s not true, and that because of the cross and empty tomb you are no longer a slave of hatred. And what good is that truth if they are only words and not our actual experience?
If you seek a fresh start, there is only One who can lead you down that road to freedom and healing. God is a God of peace, and He doesn’t just talk about it or wish it for you. Through the cross, God kills the hostility and makes it real in your life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know what kind of therapy you’re getting, but if it’s not biblically based, you need to be careful. My advice is to seek biblically based counseling (the counseling department at Focus on the Family can help you do that). A well-trained, biblically based counselor can walk with you on this journey in the right direction. Combine that with close connection with a community of believers, a renewed commitment to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation on Scripture and even fasting (perhaps with a physician’s approval), and asking God to take all that has happened and redeem it for your good and His glory.
Please understand, the healing we’re talking about is a journey, not a finger snap, but if you’ll commit to the process you will find forgiveness, reconciliation and peace beyond your wildest expectations.
Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.