It all started when I attended a class in my church community about healing and deliverance. I didn’t walk into the class with any expectations. As a matter of fact, I really didn’t think I needed healing OR deliverance!
During the third class, the leader told us to create a list of people who we needed to forgive and bless. He informed us that the top of the
list should include your parents, you and God. I was baffled by that, because, first—I didn’t need healing and deliverance and second—I had no reason to forgive my parents. I mean, they did the best they could. And at the end of the day, I turned out OK and I love Jesus. No harm, no foul. AND forgive Jesus? Really? The whole idea of forgiving people in authority over me sounded bizarre. But out of obedience, I connected with some trusted people in my community who had also been in the same class. Each of these people spoke almost identical themes to me on the SAME DAY: abandonment and violation.
My parents divorced when I was young, and around the 2nd grade, I moved to live with my dad, who didn’t “raise” us in church. It took some coaching directly from my class leader to help me understand that a spiritual violation is as damaging as a physical one. Although I spent summers with my mom, and ultimately moved back to her home when I was a junior in high school, my wise friends suggested that maybe abandonment was a theme surrounding the relationship with my mom and it may be a good idea to forgive.
The terms “abandonment and violation” were extremely hurtful to me. Each of them connotes a violent, lifeless life— which, until then, weren’t a part of my childhood or vocabulary. I remember great summers in North Carolina with my mom and her family and remember feeling very secure and safe around my father all the time. The idea that I would think they “abandoned or violated” me felt like betrayal.
I struggled with these concepts all day and finally, when I got home, found myself with my neighbor, on her porch, basically regurgitating the conversations from the day. I’m not sure if I was trying to convince myself, or have those thoughts refuted, but I told her about each conversation in detail. I got about halfway through when my phone rang. It was my daughter’s dad.
Maya’s dad and I never married and when she was 3, she and I moved from Las Vegas to Cincinnati when I accepted a job. Every summer, Maya spends part of it with her immediate and extended family on the West Coast, and at that moment, she was with her dad in Vegas. He was calling to tell me about a conversation he had with Maya. Apparently, she had done something and he wanted to punish her, but before he did, he asked her for an apology. At some point during the conversation, she texted him (technology, right?) saying, “If anyone should apologize, it should be you, because you abandoned me and my mom and I feel like it was a violation of our family.” WHAT???? OMG. I literally sat down when I heard this. It felt like I had taken my first real breath of air. Although Maya’s dad was still talking, I couldn’t quite hear his voice over God’s voice telling me to apologize to our daughter.
I stopped him mid- sentence and said, “Why don’t we just apologize to Maya? Why don’t we just agree right now that we never taught her true covenant and repent to her and God? Why don’t we bless her, her future husband (she’s 12) and her future children—that in spite of our actions, they will know and live out covenant? Because at the end of the day, that’s what I want for her.”
Stunned, he agreed, and we agreed that from now on, we will create a new covenant with Maya. As her parents we think it’s important for us to admit when we are wrong, but most importantly, for her to know how to forgive— because that’s what God’s Kingdom looks like.