Forgiving The Unforgivable
The deeply personal story I’m going to share today is a difficult one to write as well as share. As a writer, I express my deepest feelings and emotions best through the written word. But this post is one of the most difficult I’ve ever written, and yet, it could be one of the most important. Important because although it deals with forgiveness and the importance of forgiveness in spiritual deliverance, it also deals with euthanasia. We hear a lot in the news anymore about euthanasia and infanticide don’t we? Well, Catholic or not — Christian or not — this is murder of our most vulnerable and I don’t understand how it can be viewed otherwise. Still, as much as we might believe these acts are morally wrong, we simply can’t know how emotionally and spiritually devastating such life events are until they touch our own lives. As personal as this post is, and as much as I’ve resisted sharing my story, I’m confident the Holy Spirit has put it on my heart to share to help another in some way. It’s a bit of a long story so bear with me, and let’s start at the very beginning.
It is no secret to those that follow my blog that I began a real spiritual battle beginning in January 2018, just about the time the book was set to go to the printer. As I moved forward in sharing my testimony through my memoir, it seemed as though I was being hit from every angle with obstacles and adversity of every imaginable kind. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and some wise spiritual counsel, I confirmed it for what it was — the enemy attacking. In no way did the enemy want the book or the worship CD to go forward to glorify the Lord, and so, I was being targeted.
I tried all means of praying through it. But no matter how fervent my prayers the attack’s kept coming, and I found myself growing weaker, emotionally, mentally and then, physically. At my core, I knew that the enemy meant business. These demons were out to oppress and attempt to destroy me, and I do mean destroy me in every sense of the word. As many also know, I am devoted to Blessed Sacrament. I come weekly to sit with the Lord in a beautiful chapel at a Carmelite Monastery near my home. (See photo) It was during one of these visits about a month ago that I laid it all before the Lord — the heavy heart, ill health, and a world of troubles that weighed so greatly upon me.
Bowing my head I silently prayed,“Help me Lord. I’m desperate here. My health is failing, and fast. I have so much work to do for you and I’m besieged with one health challenge after the other. How can I work for you effectively feeling this weak — emotionally and physically? I’ve begged for your mercy, your healing and for deliverance from my enemy. I’ve renounced the enemy and claimed the victory, which I do know is mine in the name of Jesus. Yet, I can’t find the breakthrough I so desperately need. What is your will in this, Lord? What is the lesson? What am I missing? Are you trying to teach or show me something? If so, I’m not understanding. Again Lord, I ask what is Your will in this?” When I was through and had emptied my heart, I sat in the silence of this sacred place, and listened for a long while. And it was then I heard the still small voice say,”Forgive him.” I knew immediately who the Lord was speaking of … my brother. And the thing I had to forgive him for was something that I believed to be so wrong, and so heinous that in my mind it was unforgivable. Memories of that day when the hurt was first inflicted rushed over me — memories that I’d tried so hard to forget.
In April 2018, my Mom died, or dare I say she was euthanized at the hand of my brother. She had been in a rehab facility and was doing relatively well. I had talked to her the evening before and she sounded good. It would be my last conversation with her. The next morning she suffered a brain bleed and was rushed to the hospital. When I got there she was unconscious. I immediately noticed she was wearing a bracelet that said ‘DNR’ or do not resuscitate. I didn’t understand why she’d be wearing such a bracelet. Did she have a living will that I was never told about? That seemed highly unlikely to me. Mom was a life-long Catholic that believed in the sanctity of life.
My big brother was there with many other members of the immediate family. It was explained to me by my aunt, that the doctor had said upon examining her at arrival that he “wouldn’t touch” the brain bleed at her age. Mom was 89. I inquired of the nurse why she didn’t have an IV, and was told they wouldn’t being giving her one. That meant of course no food, water, or her medication. Then the attending nurse took my brother and I into the hall to deliver the most devastating and shocking news of all. At my brother’s discretion, my mom was going to be given an injection to slow her breathing!
I was horrified. I wanted to scream at both my brother and the nurse, ”What in the world are you talking about, slow her breathing? As in stop her breathing? As in kill her?” But I was as intimated by my brother as I’d always been my dad. So I just stood there stunned. Silent. I couldn’t speak. I guess I knew if I did that I’d be making a huge scene in the hospital corridor, because my brother would immediately go into one of his “dad-like rages” only worse. It then occurred to me how many times in the short period I’d been at the hospital that day, that he’d said over and over ad naseaum, that he had power or attorney — he was the “primary” and I just the “contingent”. Until that day I knew nothing about this. It all began to make sense now! He had all power and control over everything down to her last breath that day!
I was positive of my deduction watching my brother’s emotionless response to the nurse’s comment. It was just a stone-cold look as if this was how it was to be. In fact, my brother seemed to already know the plan down to the last act. I could only assume he’d obtained this power of attorney and all control over my mom’s life and estate during the past two years when Mom, because of financial problems, had been forced to live with him. Before that my name was on everything equally with his as there is just the two of us, but no longer was that the case. He’d made sure during that time my name was taken off everything.
My thoughts went back to a conversation I’d had with Mom a week before. She had tearfully told me that she couldn’t go back home to live with my brother as he’d told her that he didn’t want to care for her anymore. She couldn’t come live with me as much as we both wanted that because my home was just too small, and she couldn’t afford a facility unless she sold everything. By everything that included the house my brother lived in that she owned. She said she wouldn’t put him in the street. I couldn’t help but wonder if on some level she had simply given up and “willed” herself to die.
So Mom was going to die… today! I was numb. In shock. The plan according to my brother and the hospital was the family would have the rest of the day to sit with Mom and say goodbye. Then after we left the nurse would give her a shot that would slow her breathing, and my Mom would simply pass away. I looked at my brother with fire in my eyes and silenty screamed, “Who made you God? How can you do this to her after all she’s sacrificed for you! And when did all these decisions get made?” To say I was livid is putting it mildly, and rather than step up and get in his face, I let my fear of him control me. I left the room and headed to the Chapel to pray, and to cry. I had no power to do anything to help her — to intervene on her behalf. As desperately as I wanted to be her advocate, I couldn’t be. She was at my big brother’s mercy, and all I could do was sit and watch the sorrowful events of that day unfold.
My husband, children and I left that evening about 10:30 p.m. Several of my aunts had wanted to come back before the injection was to be administered to sit with her till the end. I chose not to stay because I simply couldn’t bear to watch her life be taken in this way. Yes, she was going to die, and I knew that. But she should have been given an IV and allowed to die when God called her home. God is the author of life — not my brother! But my brother apparently anxious to get home that evening didn’t wait for my aunts to return to hold Mom’s hand as she passed. No sooner had we left when he had the nurse come in to give her the “lethal” injection. What he told me the next day about what transpired when that injection was given is something I’ll never forget.
He said that after the injection Mom turned blue. Her heart wouldn’t stop because she had a pacemaker and they didn’t yet have the code to stop it. So in the interim, between the time of the injection and the time it took the nurse to get the code, Mom struggled and turned blue. That she had turned blue — not what he’d done — THIS horrified my brother.
My thoughts returned to the present moment and the beauty of the Blessed Sacrament before me. I closed my eyes and imagined Jesus sitting in the pew beside me and again poured my heart out to Him,“Lord, my brother killed her! That’s how I see it. I know you want me to forgive him, but how can I ever forgive that? Life is sacred — all life, and her life was especially sacred to me. I loved her so much. She was my Mama. I hate him for doing this to her. She trusted him and he betrayed her. Why couldn’t they allow her an IV and to die in YOUR time? It isn’t anyone’s call but yours. There’s no way around it, Jesus. He euthanized her, which is just a nicer word for murder!! Not once did she ever tell me she would be okay with something like this. She loved her Catholic faith. This goes against the core all of her beliefs!”
“I do, Lord. ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do’.” I understood. Jesus was betrayed and murdered too, and his last act was forgiveness of the perpetrators. His was the example I had to follow. I didn’t know how I was going to forgive my brother or the nurse that administered the injection, but I knew this is what the Lord was not just asking, but commanding me to do.
What does all of this have to do with my prayer for deliverance that day in the Chapel? Everything. We are called to forgive everyone of all things in order to be delivered from our enemy. Jesus makes it clear that unforgiveness gives the demonic kingdom a legal right to torment us. In Matthew 18:34, He tells us that unless we forgive with our whole heart, we will be turned over to the jailers/tormentors to be tortured, until we should pay back all that we owe. I’ve come to understand that my deliverance from the hell hounds that have been pursuing me in the past year hasn’t come because of my unforgiveness towards my brother.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:32-35
I know I can’t forgive my brother on my own, and it will take the grace of God for me to do so, but forgive him I must to be set free. I’ve forgiven my dad for abusing me, the bullies for the daily humiliation, and even the boy that stole my virginity and raped me, but this is by far more difficult than any one of those. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever been asked by my Lord to do. This was the life of my precious Mom. If you’ve read my memoir then you will know how close we were. Although Mom and I had our issues she was the one person that was at my bedside throughout the worst years of the eating disorder to support me. I feel as if I let her down in the worst way imaginable, and that when she needed my support at her bedside my hands were tied. I doubt anything I’d have said would have made a difference that day, but that I didn’t have the courage to speak up on her behalf haunts me. Instead, I let my fear of my brother’s rage overtake me. I reverted to that scared little girl yet again.
And now I think I know the personal reasons at least, of why the Holy Spirit wanted me to write this post. I’ve always wondered why I didn’t grieve Mom’s death more than I have. It’s because I’ve repressed it. I haven’t been able emotionally to face the pain of the circumstances of her death. For most of my life, she was closer to me than anyone in my life. Her sudden death and the circumstances surrounding it were shocking and unexpected. I think I’ve just numbed myself out for the past several years rather than face any of this because I really don’t know what to do with it — how to grieve these emotions or process this pain. It’s overwhelming. My old crutch the eating disorder is now history, so I no longer go to that. It’s like I’m in foreign territory trying to cope with such deep pain without it. And there’s something else I feel the Holy Spirit is showing me here. Perhaps it’s the biggest piece — the most important piece that’s been missing all along.I blame myself for letting her down in a way that feels unforgivable to me. I have to forgive myself, not only my brother for something I have deemed unforgivable. Perhaps of all the work I have to do to make peace forgiving myself is the hardest thing of all.
I have a lot of work to do, but I know I won’t do it alone. I have Jesus with me. He will guide me through this season as He always has. He will be my example and my loving Father into whose arms I flee. His grace will be sufficient.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Do you have someone in your life that you too are struggling with forgiving? Something that feels unforgivable? Perhaps it’s yourself that you are needing to forgive. I invite you to pray with me now. I’ve written two prayers — one for forgiving another, and one for forgiving yourself. Will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, I lay down(person’s name) to You. I’m having a difficult time letting go of the hurt, the pain, and anger. Father, I want so much to forgive, but it’s so hard to let go of the pain. But this day I choose to give it to You. When they(tell the Lord what they did) my very soul was crushed. But today, I let it go and give it to You. I pray that Your grace would fall upon me lifting this pain, hurt and anger from the depths of my soul. Help me to set(name of person) free. God, I ask for healing of every part of me this situation has affected. I let go … I give them and this situation to You that I may be set free. In Jesus Precious Name … AmenHeavenly Father, I come to You with heavy heart — laden down by my own sins and failures. I find it so much easier to accept Your forgiveness than to forgive myself. How do I let go of these tormenting emotions that hold me captive? Help me … I pray for Your grace, Your guidance, Your help to surrender these feelings to You. Help me to forgive myself for things I said … things I didn’t say … things I did … things I didn’t do. Through Your grace may my spirit find the freedom it seeks and may I finally know true peace. In Jesus Name Amen
May you find the peace you seek in Him.
In Christ’s Love,
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