Childhood wounds can be devastating, as we see in Maureen Chapman’s story. But we don’t have to be defined by them, as she shows.
I have spent most of my 7 decades of life learning about forgiveness. I was born on the morning of the first day of World War 2 in North London, England. My mother, who was pregnant with me and had to get married to my father, was terrified and angry. She wanted to have me adopted but changed her mind.
When, at the late age of 37, I was pregnant for the first time, I broke a long silence, maintained by her, to inform her by phone that she was to become a grandmother. She was cold, told me I was too old and that anyway, lots of women had babies every day, so what? A few weeks later I miscarried.
I hated her. I am a Christian, and knew the Lord’s Prayer about forgiving and receiving forgiveness from God, but I was bitter, angry and hated her. It didn’t take me too long to discover that my relationships were being soured by these negative reactions.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love. (Colossians 3 v13)
I knew I had to forgive, but I did not want to be exposed to any more malice. Reluctantly, I handed my hate and unforgiving attitude to God.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave us. (Ephesians 4 v 31)
There is always a price to pay for forgiveness. Jesus paid the price for us on the cross.
The relationship with my mother never improved, but I learnt to understand something of her nature. Her own mother died when she was 9 months old. Her father had been gassed in World War 1, suffering poor health and widowed with eight young children to care for. She was brought up by her eldest sister and a succession of housekeepers.
Having never received love, she was neither able to give love nor receive it. Moreover, after my birth she had suffered a severe postnatal depression, complicated by shingles. She struggled to care for a young baby, not least through the London Blitz and the later bombing raids. She had no emotional support from anyone except my father. He was very deaf, not accepted by any of the armed forces, so worked in a bomb factory by day, and fire watching in the City of London by night.
My own bitterness and unforgiving attitude had blinded me to her needs. I was demanding love when she had none to give. In turn, she tried to make me her scapegoat to atone for her sins.
God found a way to forgive us all by sacrificing His own son Jesus to take away our sins. He took this enormous step because He loves us.
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice. (1 John 4 v 9)
We obey Him by extending that loving forgiveness to those who hurt us. The rewards are joy and peace. We live in harmony.
When I visited my mother just before her death, although she refused to speak to me, except for three short sentences, I was able to pray that God would show her mercy, for He had made her and knew her better I did.
Since my mother’s death, my husband and I are at last reunited with members of my family. It’s not been easy, unravelling the many lies, misconceptions and misunderstandings that divided us. It is happening and brings joy to all.
Forgiveness is the very heart of the gospel and love the very heart of God.
Maureen Chapman, born into a deaf family, is a retired nurse/midwife, missionary to Nepal, hotelier and mini-market owner. She is owned by a bossy Border collie called Honey and loves gardening, walking, meeting people as well as writing, especially for children. She is learning to blog at maureenmusing.wordpress.com