MomProgram

Today is the second anniversary of my mother’s death. I thought this would be a good time to discuss some of the thoughts I had toward her and my life in general.

For most of my life, I didn’t agree with my mother’s choices. In fact, some of her choices had a pretty negative effect on how I felt, the things I did, and to some extent the person I became. For a long time, I had hard feelings toward her because of this. These negative feelings poisoned almost every facet of my life.

As a young adult, I learned that Jesus Christ and what He did for us–the Atonement–could rid my life of this poison. I knew this. I prayed for this. Yet for some reason, for years, even decades, I still did not find peace. I continued to hope for healing, but I eventually put my pain on a shelf and almost forgot about it. As long as I could distract myself with other things, I didn’t need to deal with it. I still struggled with depression and negativity, but I attributed these emotions to other things.

However when I became a parent myself, I realized the poison was still there. I recognized the necessity of dealing with it because it was affecting my ability to be a good parent. A loving Father in Heaven directed me to my church’s Addiction Recovery Program. Through “working” the twelve steps in this program, I found the healing that I so desperately needed. Just months before her death, I finally was able to forgive my mother. I am still working on riding myself of the bad habits the poison caused me to form, but my life is much more peaceful. I can honestly say I have compassion for my mother.

The last couple of weeks I have wondered why I was able to find healing two years ago when I had yearned for it for years. I tried just as hard to live a good life back then as I do now. Why could I not tap into Christ’s power when I first learned of its ability to heal? I’ve spent some time studying the healing power of the Atonement. I’m still not completely sure why I did not find complete relief back then, but I have some ideas.

One of the first things I’ve realized through my study is that I didn’t ask for help. One of the articles I read by Richard G. Scott, one of our Twelve Apostles, said, “If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t decide to fix it yourself. Serious abuse can also benefit from professional help”(http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/to-heal-the-shattering-consequences-of-abuse?lang=eng). He recommended that we meet with our ecclesiastical leader and possibly other mental health professionals. Even though I heard similar counsel when I was in college, I did not talk with my bishop. At various times in my I did try and meet with a counselor but as soon as I recognized incompetence, I quit going. Perhaps I should have tried harder to find a good professional.

I think the biggest mistake I made is that I did not acknowledge and repent of my own wrong doing. Working the 12 steps in the ARP program, especially Step 4: Truth (http://addictionrecovery.lds.org/bc/content/arp/content/manuals/ARPGuide_English_36764.pdf?lang=eng), helped me recognize this. The human response to my situation was, “Your mother was not treating you correctly; you were not obligated to be kind to her.” However, Christ sees things differently. I came to recognize that if I truly wanted to tap into the full power of the Atonement, I had to be one with Christ. I had to act like He would in every situation. Anytime I failed to do this, I needed to repent (Obviously, I repent a lot). When I repented of the instances where I did not act or think like the Savior would have in my relationship with my mother, that’s when the miracles started to take place.

I also have realized that I could not have recognized my mom’s humanity–a vital step in the forgiveness process–until I was a parent myself. Being a parent is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I really hated some of the things my mom used to do, and yet I find myself doing similar things. Breaking the cycle of dysfunctionality is also very difficult. My mother’s parents also made some bad choices and I know that these choices negatively impacted my mother. Mom was human, and she made a lot of mistakes, but I think she did the best job she could.

Lastly, I have started to wonder if the ability to forgive, like charity, is a benevolent gift from God. I have heard a number of people say, “I was just able to forgive them at this point in my life. I don’t know why.” Many of the articles that I read from our church leaders that talked about the ability of the Atonement to heal us, repeat over and over that the healing process takes time. Perhaps, all those years ago, it just wasn’t my time.

I am so grateful for the power of the Atonement and the healing it has brought to me. I’m grateful that I can honestly say my past does not define me. I am not controlled any more by the negative choices of others. I’m grateful that I can look forward to having a normal mother-daughter relationship with my mother in the next life. I’m grateful that the poison of my own negativity is no longer affecting my ability to raise my family.

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