Please enjoy this post from my friend Saleama Ruvalcaba (you can learn a little more about her and her book at the end of this post). Saleama is a writer, student, and home educator who loves to share her own story of transformation so others can find the freedom she has found.
It was like any other morning: a peaceful, sunny, beautiful day. After finishing breakfast, my husband, who was sitting across the table from me, casually said he had the strangest dream the night before. He proceeded to tell me about it. He said it was about me. My face had enlarged and was growing out of control. He stood there fixated. Suddenly, a woman appeared out of nowhere beside me. She told my husband to leave and take the children because my face would continue to enlarge out of control.
What my husband did not know was he had touched on a subject that was slowly destroying me from the inside out.
I simply stared at him–and began to cry.
I was in the midst of a certain form of depression that had hit me like a ton of bricks–and I had no idea how to stop it. I managed to camouflage it a little, but deep inside I hated myself. It had finally gotten to the point where I was afraid because I could no longer control my emotions.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
I could not believe it. I was sitting in a counseling office on the day of my wedding anniversary. Our family had just begun attending a new church. The church offered free biblical counseling. I hesitantly decided to take advantage. My wedding anniversary was the only available appointment for months.
I felt like such a loser.
The day I was supposed to celebrate the love of marriage, I was sitting in an office waiting to talk to a stranger about my despondency.
The first session was amazing. My counselor, a woman, right away opened God’s Word and helped me see God’s plan for my life. She gave me a verse from Isaiah 43:7: “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” The verse helped me see God’s purpose for me. My counselor assured me I had control over what I was going through.
I left our first session renewed. I had been a believer for years. I had been in Bible studies and life groups. At that particular time, I was in Bible college–but this godly counselor showed me an understanding of God’s purpose in my life that I had missed. In Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, he makes the reader understand that it really does not matter how much stuff we “do for God.” If we do not deal with unsolved pain, we are emotionally immature, and thus spiritually immature. I continued with my sessions, making great progress–and then one day, a climax.
The Light Bulb
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).
Right before the start of one of my sessions, my mother called. I made a remark about my mother, which sparked an entirely different turn of events. My counselor then realized I had been harboring tremendous hate and unforgiveness toward my mother.
Well, of course I hated her!
My mother was the reason I hated my life. She did nothing to invest in me as a child. When other children my age were involved in sports or extracurricular activities, I was at home. When I had trouble making friends at school, she offered no help. When I was picked on and laughed at by other children, she didn’t care. When I needed new clothing or a nice hairstyle, she was too busy. When I had trouble with my schoolwork, she wasn’t around. When other high school seniors were talking about college, I sat alone. She never mentioned college to me (I barely graduated high school). When I was 22 years old, it was the first time in my life I ascertained I had no ability to read, write, or communicate well. I had a job answering phones, and a co-worker read something that I wrote. She was brave enough to tell me how poor my writing was. That situation opened my eyes to the fact that I had no life-skills. I had no idea how to care for myself as a woman. I didn’t know how to cook or clean. I didn’t know how to buy groceries. I had no idea how to handle money or pay bills on time. I had no idea how to read a map or navigate around the city on my own. I had no friends–because I didn’t know how to make friends. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I could have been anything–yet I was nothing! I was an adult (sitting at my work desk) trying to teach myself how to read. I felt incompetent and worthless. The older I got, the angrier I became. My mother had always been there physically, but she had left me stranded. She had offered no nurturing.
Yes, I absolutely hated her!
If I had lived the rest of my life never seeing or talking to her again, it would have been fine with me. However, I knew deep in my heart I had to forgive her. I was 40 years old. It had been long enough. I had to do something. Not just for her sake–but for mine. Studies have shown unforgiveness is linked with depression and other health problems.
“Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7).
My counselor helped me to see that the anger and hatred I had toward my mother had become part of my life without me realizing it. When you hear people say unforgiveness hurts you more than the other person, I can attest to that fact. My counselor reminded me that I was hurting myself, and I was hurting my husband and children. She gave me a verse from Jeremiah 17:5-8: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” I was living in the flesh. I put my trust in how my mother treated me to dictate my purpose in God. Another verse in that passage says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord…they will be like a tree planted by the water.”
My counselor helped me to see that my purpose with God is not predicated on my external circumstances; rather, it is solely based on my relationship with Jesus Christ. I had progressed tremendously on my own, but it did not matter. The hate toward my mother was so strong. Bottom line, no matter what my mother did or did not do, it has no bearing on God’s love or His plan for me as His child. I am to live in the Spirit regardless of how someone else treats me.
As we continued to work together, my counselor helped me see the situation from my mother’s perspective. My mother was probably hurt as child and never shown proper love herself, which is why she had no ability to show me any love. My counselor gave me a verse to pray over my mother. She asked me to pray Psalm 3:7, “Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked” and insert my mother’s name where it says, “deliver [her]” and “strike all [her] enemies on the jaw.”
I continued with my sessions, but I also started to pray that verse over my mother every day, and to my surprise, slowly but surely, the anger began to go away. For the first time, I was able to think about her in a loving manner. I was able to look at her picture and not feel rage inside of me. I was able to read God’s Word with more hope for my life. I was able to pray and feel His presence. As my attitude toward her softened, she would call me more often and we’d talk. She suddenly began to come to church with me and my family. Then one day she did the unthinkable!
I could not believe my eyes. In front of hundreds of strangers, my mother got baptized during a Sunday evening service! It was one of the best days of my life. Through all of her pain and hurt, she took an amazing step toward the ultimate love she had been missing. She took a step toward Jesus Christ. Since that day she has been a more active participant in church. She is more loving and easier to be around.
I wrote a book two years ago, Lead Me to a Breakthrough. I had the opportunity to make some editing changes to it. It was originally dedicated to someone else, but I decided to dedicate it to my mother. I called her and told her I rededicated my book to someone. She guessed everyone under the sun, and then finally she said, “Me?” She could not believe it. It touched her so sweetly.
You see, the Lord has shown me that His Word is true. If we hate, our hatred will only fuel more hate–and pain. When we forgive, God can and will do amazing things. My mother was missing something in her life. Before we know Jesus, we are ALL missing something in our lives.
Breaking through tremendous hurt is never easy. This post is not meant to imply it’s easy or can be done overnight. The pain I experienced was real. At times it felt unbearable. But I am truly convinced that through prayer God will lead us to healing and forgiveness. I am convinced He will send a great support system of godly people to guide us. I went to counseling thinking I would sit there sobbing, feeling sorry for myself. I had no idea I would come out strengthened and able to withstand the mighty force of hostility to allow God’s love to penetrate into my heart–so that I could give that love back to my mother, who so desperately needed it. God is love. He loves you. If you are going through depression, seek godly counseling as soon as possible. He will see you through it.
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba is a wife and mother of five. She is a home educator and author. Saleama has a B.S. in Church Ministries from Evangel University and is studying for her M.A. in Intercultural Theology at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. When invited, Saleama speaks on various Christian topics, and she writes frequently on her blog: salruv7.net.
© 2017 Amy Simpson.