I know I’m not the only one out there who struggles dealing with family. I know that there are some of y’all who are going to know exactly what I’m talking about.
As a woman in her early 20’s who is still trying to facilitate communicating with her parents effectively, Jesus, throw me a bone. I recently home returned from dog sitting at a couple from my church’s house for about one month. I normally live with my mom (until I move this summer), and we’ve still got a few communication glitches to work out.
But today, I feel like I accomplished something. Today, there was victory.
In return for being more intentional about doing my dishes in time, I told my mom straight up that her cursing wasn’t going to work. I told her straight up that when I have kids, that verbal abuse will not be welcome in my home and I will not tolerate it. If she insists on dragging it in, she will have to leave. We can’t live like this forever.
I brought up a lot of things that I needed to bring up, like feeling like my mom doesn’t have time for me, that she is never willing to actually sit down and listen, and is generally pretty impatient. She had these moments of pausing before she answered me that helped, because I knew she was listening. I initiated that conversation and we pulled off a compromise. Especially with my sister coming home soon, this is a step in the right direction. Prior to now, it’s been really hard to hold her accountable.
I may have mentioned it before on this blog, but I moved home to repair these relationships. It seems like the wrong strategy to take, I know, but I don’t believe in chicken-shitting around conflict. If I don’t take an active role in helping my family work through our crap while I’m still young, my parents will still die bitter. I’m not okay with that.
Honestly, I am afraid of little, but dealing with my family was like the final frontier. I’ve been praying to have more compassion on them lately. Praying also for God to give me the strength to actually move and desire to fix things. We’ve been in and out of therapy since I was literally in 3rd grade. I recently forgave a lot of things related to them never pursuing lasting solutions (God). We went to all these therapists, but one hour of being yourself every two weeks for 12 years and being a vessel for constant conflict during the world’s worst divorce leaves scars. My parents are a stretch, but I have Jesus. We can do this.
I will never be able to forget some of those counseling sessions (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Several times, I spent the entire hour bitterly angry but refused to talk. Good luck. I’m stubborn.
The one moment I absolutely can’t forget is a day sometime in high school where I told my counselor that I felt like I had to choose between myself and God. Afraid and afraid of making the wrong choice, I was so convinced that if I chose myself, God would punish me. I went to church, but there weren’t really people who pursued Jesus actively enough to speak some sense into me. Besides, I was depressed and I didn’t really feel like being there. It wasn’t helpful.
And so I showed up to this session, worry clouding my mind, absolutely convinced I had to choose. And years later, without the fear, I know that we all have to make that decision. A few years after that when I gained some strength, I did choose, and I chose Jesus. I chose God. It’s a given that choosing God is essentially choosing myself and the best for me. But if things get crappy? I still choose God. I will choose God the same every morning. Forgiving my family is like the last little bit of that, until it’s not. For now, I choose God again through this.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my life and what it really takes to have a family, and I’m a lot less afraid now. God has been putting boldness in me that I really didn’t have before. I’ve spent some time on this blog talking about being single and what it costs to settle down, and you know what? So be it. I still could be happily single forever, but I think getting married someday might be worth the sacrifice. You absolutely don’t have the same freedom, but what if there’s a guy out there that needs me to challenge him (and vice versa)? What if together, we could reach better spiritual heights and depths than we could reach alone? What if getting married would help me understand the gospel better, and put me in places where there are kids (who I want to minister to)? I want to be a pillar of strength in my community, and I think marriage is doable. I think staying married and staying committed is entirely possible, and it isn’t the enemy. As a grown child that once craved stability, I will do better for my kids. While there is still time, I think God can use people with the desire to be proactive.
When me and my mom were having that conversation, I had a lot of moments were I was tempted to wrath but I just couldn’t justify saying or doing something unnecessarily hurtful. Discipline is necessary (for all people) on certain occasions, but speaking harshly and out of a spirit of violence is unclean and inappropriate. We can do this. I trust God.