I am doing battle with myself over my last post. The troubled grandmother of whom I spoke still has a tender place in my heart as my Granny, the woman who took in my sister and me when we had no mother at home to care for us and who raised us to the best of her ability. That was the same woman who smiled at me and was a consistent foundation when all else was falling apart…the woman who did what she believed was right in the face of daunting odds…the woman who in her 60’s embraced a three month old infant, changed her diapers, washed her clothes and shouldered the responsibility of teaching and training her. ..the woman who, with her husband, decided to add on to their house to accommodate their son and his two daughters when it became apparent their wife and mother was not coming home from the mental hospital any time soon. That was the Granny I loved.
But, those facts are accompanied by others, such as the effect wrought on her by the dysfunction of her family of origin. Her obsessive compulsive work ethic and lack of fulfillment was fostered there. She was the oldest girl of 11 children; in a rare moment of confession she described her situation in this way: while her mother had babies, she took care of the houe and helped raise her siblings. When her youngest sister was born, her crib was in my Granny’s room, and Granny raised her; when her ailing grandfather moved to their home, she was the one who cared for him. Another instance of unusual honesty revealed her unfulfilled desire to become a nurse, implying that her family dynamics kept her from realizing that dream. She lost a baby girl at birth and never properly grieved her loss… after her husband passed away she never cried….suppressing her feelings was what she was trained to do. I’m sure these conditions, and many others about which I will never know, shaped and molded her into the woman she was.
Although her situation may evoke compassion and empathy, it does not erase the fact of her manipulative and controlling nature. Even though I may somewhat understand that which caused the brokenness within her soul, that does not change the outcomes which resulted from her skewed perceptions and actions. Even though I may understand the reasons behind her bitterness and the brittle armor she wore, those do not excuse her damaging attitudes and belief system. No matter what her intentions were, the reality of her actions affected those she loved in very hurtful ways….and vica versa. Harmful behavior causes injury, no matter how sincere the motivation and intention. And, when healing is sought, truth must be accepted no matter how much your soul longs to protect the image of those you love.
Add to the pot (already containing Granny’s internalized, unsettled problems) an alcoholic husband (this is my guess…the silence of the family never allowed discussion), a son who sexually abused his child under her roof, a daughter-in-law who committed herself to a mental institution, and two needy children, and one may begin to understand the cauldron of unresolved issues which boiled under the surface in this place we called home.
What is the result? Pain and love. Heart ache and sadness. Without God, hopelessness; without God, despair; without God, hurts beyond healing.
But there is a God, and He entered my life. He is the one who defeated hopelessness and despair by coming to this earth, destroying the power of the Prince of this world and bringing light to those walking in darkness. (Isaiah 9:2) Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 when He stated his purpose as he began His ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 This is my God who has comforted me in my mourning, provided for me in my grief and has bestowed on me “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 62:2b-3a This is the God who brings hope out of hopelessness and has the power to make all things beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) This is the God who lifted me out of the slimy pit and set my feet upon a Rock…the rock of Jesus Christ. (Psalm 40:2)