Make your life experiences a gift

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 16, 2020

By Jan Miller Penton

My mom and dad, as well as my late husband, have been gone from this earth for quite a while. It came much too soon in my estimation, but if I’ve learned anything in life it’s to take what you’ve been given and do the best you can.
This year I was quite surprised to find myself seeing all the beautiful photos of children and their mothers and feeling sad. I made peace with losing these special people early in life a while ago, but this year I felt the sting of loss almost as if the years since had disappeared. I encountered once more the grief not of what I had lost when my mom passed, but what I never had.
My mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder long before the medical community had any real idea of how to treat this condition. Her illness combined with the lack of effective treatment available made for a very chaotic childhood. Mental illness is still somewhat taboo in 2020, but when I was a child it was much more so. It was the elephant in the room, and no one ever talked about it, so you can imagine how difficult this situation was for everyone involved.
There are many people who, for one reason or another, never had a special relationship with their mother, and I guess I’m writing this column to give voice to us all. After my mother’s death several years ago I experienced a profound grief, and felt heartbroken that I would never experience a really healthy relationship with my mom. I so longed to feel my mother’s love and acceptance, and felt that I had missed my chance. Through a series of events God gave me the grace to let go of the past. I forgave both my mom and myself for mistakes we had made, and began to look forward to the day when we would be reunited in heaven.
Relationships can be messy at times and often are. Thankfully, I have a beautiful relationship with each of my children, but the truth is none of us have reached perfection. Forgiveness is always needed, and I’ve learned that although offenses will come, it is so much better to let them go and move on as soon as possible.
For a lot of years I held on to hurt over events of my childhood, and it only hurt me. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is well worth the effort. Sometimes forgiving is so difficult that it’s impossible to do it alone, but what a Savior we have to show us the way.
I’m so grateful to be free from resentment and bitterness, and know that when I’m reunited with my mother one day we’ll make up for all the years we lost.
I’m not trying to preach, but I asked God to put something on my heart to encourage others today, and this was it. Forgiveness is the best gift I ever gave myself.

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