March 7, 2007

Haunted by a Hidden Hatred

2007 1507 page28 capy mother was horrified when, at 18 years old, I told her I was going to marry a coworker at the hospital where I worked. He was a tall, handsome Texan, slow talking and gentle, and we fell head over heels for each other.


This was probably the first time I had ever gone directly against my mother’s wishes, and she didn’t take it very well. However, she was a good mother, and she loved me dearly. When she found that she couldn’t change my mind, she did her best to make our wedding a joy—and it was.


However, from the beginning of our marriage my mother found fault with everything my husband did or said. I was always caught in the middle, trying to keep the peace and my cool. I didn’t manage either very well. Although I prayed for strength and guidance each day, in reality I was still trying to handle it all myself.


Time Doesn’t Necessarily Heal

The years passed, during which we lost our only son to cancer. A few years later my husband died of cancer as well.


2007 1507 page28By this time Mother and Dad were in a nursing home. A year or so later Daddy died too. Over the years I had been building a huge wall of resentment inside me. I thought I was being a good Christian. After all, wasn’t I often going in to see Mother, taking her for rides in the country, tending her needs, or whatever? I prided myself for being a “dutiful daughter.”


But what I had come to feel was hate—the last thing in the world I ever thought I could do. I hated Mother for all the hurtful things she had said to me and my husband over the years, and all the turmoil she had caused when I was hurting and needing support. I guess subconsciously I was trying to lay all my trouble and sorrow on her frail shoulders.


Things got so bad that I had to force myself to go to the nursing home. When I reached the front door, it was all I could do to open it and walk in.


One day I was agonizing over my inability to rid myself of my guilt over the way I felt. I called my niece, who is my best friend and prayer partner, and poured out my anguish to her.


She didn’t even let me finish. She told me to drop whatever I was doing and come over. She called a friend to join us, and there in her living room we knelt and asked our Lord to help me let Him take my burden of hatred and guilt.


It is hard to put into words, but as we prayed, first one of us, then another, it was as if a huge weight melted and ran off me. A joy filled my heart that I hadn’t felt in years. Best of all, the hate I had spent years accumulating was replaced by compassion and love. I couldn’t wait to get over to the nursing home and give my mother a big hug and a kiss!


Seeds Sown, Fruit Born

When I at last let go of the anger and resentment, I began to remember the life my mother had lived. She lost her mother when she was 4 years of age, and her father seemed to lose his will to care for the family. He wandered here and there, leaving my mother and her little sister in the care of teenaged sisters.


Somehow my mother ended up working in the kitchen of a logging camp at the age of 9, helping to prepare the meals and serve the men who worked there. I have wondered since what might have happened to her there.


One day a middle-aged childless couple came by and stopped at the camp for dinner, as was the custom in those days. Anyone who came by could eat with the men. These kind people decided that a logging camp was no place for a 9-year-old girl, so they took my mother home to live with them. They were good people and they took good care of her, but they rarely demonstrated love in tangible ways in their home.


And so it was that when I, the apple of Mother’s eye, left home without so much as a by-your-leave, it wasn’t in her power to let go. She loved my two brothers and my sister too, but I was special to her, and it broke her heart when I left home.


When the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, I was able to see with her eyes, and feel what she felt. That day I experienced a miracle. I was never again able to hate, and I thank God often for the healing. I know it wasn’t my doing; I had tried for years and failed miserably. But God knew my need, and in His time He gave me my miracle.



Mona McKown wrote this story when she lived in Wilsonville, Oregon.