My mom (Gladys) was thrilled to learn that she would be bringing home a baby girl, but I didn’t quite live up to her expectations. She wanted a girl who would worship her the way she had worshipped her own mother. But she was a harsh woman, very critical, withholding love when she wasn’t pleased, very belittling.
I grew up with very low self-esteem, believing that I was what she said: a good-for-nothing snot-nosed brat. My father (Vern) was very unconditionally loving, but he wasn’t around much, especially once he began working second shift six nights a week.
I adored my dad, and Gladys is still jealous of that today. I don’t remember ever talking to my mom about any problems or heartaches. I just never felt close to her.
I remember the last time I tried to lean on her – I had let our parakeet out of its cage, not realizing my dad was outside. When he came in, the bird flew out. I wrapped my arms around my mom, sobbing from the loss and guilt. She didn’t touch me. It felt so condemning.
She continues to push people away even now, which is so hard.
But here’s the thing: While I can think of so many reasons to call this a failed upbringing, God chose these people to raise me in His perfect sovereignty, knowing that He was putting me where I needed to be.
I can see it in the lives of people I have known here, in the places I have worked, and in the ministries at different churches. I can see it in the story of my salvation at a Vacation Bible School, when a friend of the family randomly invited me one year.
We didn’t go to church as a family, and I never went back to that church again. But while I was there, one of the teachers sat down with me and told me that Jesus loved me and wanted me to live with Him forever in Heaven.
Wow, did I ever want to know this God-man who could love me — a dirty, ill-mannered, unloved little girl.
If I had been placed in someone elses family, would I know my Savior the same way I do today? What if I had been adopted by a loving Christian family? Would I trust him with all my heart without having endured the same trials I have?
Of course I can’t know the answers. I can only trust in my faithful heavenly Father, knowing that in His infinite wisdom he placed me with the family he did. And I will live to glorify His name, despite my hurts.
Even if I can’t rest in my relationship with my mother, I can rest God’s greater purposes.