Let me share this letter from a woman to her brother that she recently shared with me:
I don’t have to remind you of the problem Mom always was. How well you knew her self-pity, sarcasm, jealousy, suspicion, injustice, self-righteousness, and nagging that ended only in long periods of sulky silence. You rebelled openly, but my rebellion was silent. I buried the bitterness and resentment, but I buried them in the wrong place. I hid them in my heart and they have come back to torment me. Even after she died, I blamed Mom for making me the wretched person I was.
Things got worse after Ken and I married. I no longer had the moral support of family and friends to bolster my attitude. I was suddenly surrounded by new people, and a new set of circumstances. In them, I discovered a new measurement of myself; and in the balance I was found wanting. About a year ago, a series of events brought me to a long conversation with the Lord. When it was over I realized I couldn’t go through life blaming someone else for what I was. The trouble was I didn’t know what to do; I only added confusion to resentment.
Two weeks ago Dr. Henry Brandt came to speak in our town. Talking to him privately, I told him in more detail what I’ve told you. He said I needed to do two things: 1) forgive Mom, and 2) pray for grace to face the kind of people to whom I react bitterly. He said that if the memories of Mom stir rancor in me it is because rancor is in me. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…wickedness…pride and foolishness” (Mark 7:21, 22).
My problem, then, turns out to be not Mom, but me and my relationship with the Lord. Because Christ offers peace and joy in place of bitterness and anger, the question boils down to this: Do I accept what He has to offer, or don’t I?
Bill, I have made my choice, but much still remains to be worked out in my daily life. Frankly, I’m a little scared. However, although I know a lot about my own weakness, I also know something about the strength of the Lord.
All through the years our problem of rebelliousness and hatred has been the same. The answer is the same, too. I want you to enjoy the wonderful peace that has come into my life through Christ.
The names and certain details in this true case history have been changed to protect each person’s identity and privacy.