November 24, 2014
I would like to pour out my heart to you about a sin I’ve been dealing with for that past twenty years or so. I had kind of a tough childhood. My mother and father signed me over to foster care when I was 15 years old. I had already been kicked out by age 14.
I was signed over to state care because mainly my mother was abusive and very rigid. My dad was co-dependent on my mom so that’s why he went along with sending me away. My dad has tearfully apologized to me since then. I totally forgive them both.
It was the hardest time of my life.
While in state custody, I found out through another family member that my mother had given a child up for adoption when she was 18 years old and was now living with my parents. I couldn’t believe it. I basically felt like my mother had replaced me. When I finally met my half-sister, she was a pleasant and very charming person, but she never really seemed interested in getting to know me.
She was very much into her friends and boyfriends. She had even told my mother at one point that the only reason why she decided to stay with her was to see what she could get out of her financially. Over the years I’ve harbored so much anger and rage toward my sister. Her lack of empathy and understanding makes it so hard for me to let go of this resentment.
I understand she was adopted, but I was abandoned, too. I have to see her every so often and I try to avoid these gatherings so I don’t blow up at her. I ask God to forgive me for these feelings. I know I’m wrong. I forgive her in my head, but my heart is broken. How do you truly forgive and forget?
I forgot to add that I’m extremely jealous of her as well. She’s beautiful, charming, and attention-seeking. When I try to talk about things I’m feeling etc, she cuts me off or walks away. My mother treats her better than me.
I am a Christian. I love the Lord with all of my heart! In fact, he was there when EVERYONE abandoned me. I’ll never, ever forget what He did for me!
My mom is better today, but has strong personality traits that make it difficult for her to get along with others. In fact, she is addicted to prescription meds and isolates in her room daily. One time she asked me to pray with her for salvation which I was ready to do, but she changed her mind.
I do pray for her and my dad. My half-sister and I have the same mother. She has recently divorced and is in another relationship. She also has two teenage girls. I’m married with two small children as well. My marriage is a struggle since my husband is a (functional) but very moody angry addict (alcohol) with infidelity on his part. He is not saved. I’m not sure where our marriage is heading, just go day to day. I do have some friends but it’s difficult to keep them since we move every three years (husband is in the Army).
Thank you so much.
Your letter is heart wrenching. I am so sorry for all your pain. How difficult for you. God bless you for your endurance and your love for the Lord. Your feelings are very understandable. To begin with, you have forgiven your parents, which I am sure was a very hard thing to do. And you also pray for them. You have been faithful to the Scriptures—to the Lord, by doing so.
Now as far as your half-sister and your feelings toward her, I think anyone who could walk in your shoes for a short time would realize that it is amazing, if not miraculous, that you have not completely fallen apart. And the fact that you pray for her, too, is commendable. Not only are you the sibling who was replaced and had to endure foster care because of the dysfunction of your own parents, you have also been essentially ignored by the person who took your place. Talk about gross injustice...
From what I have read, it sounds like your mother is completely immersed in her own issues and may not even be capable at this time to do more than she does. Perhaps she had terrible guilt and misgivings about giving up her out of wedlock firstborn for adoption when she was so young (18). Some of her abusive behavior toward you, even before you were sent off the foster care is most likely tied into her own guilt and confusion about herself and her past.
It sounds like bringing your half-sister into her life when you were sent away was an attempt on her part to rectify her own guilt. She could not have been thinking clearly, considering what happened to you. So what are you left with? In the flesh, you are left with everything you have mentioned: The rage, the anger, the resentment, the heartache. Yes, in your head you have forgiven her, but as you say, your heart is broken. Why wouldn’t it be? What you are feeling is natural.
From what I have read in your letter, it seems to me what causes you to feel very jealous toward your half-sister is her rejection of you, and her rude uppity attitude—which only adds fuel to the fire. And for the reasons I already mentioned, your mother’s neglectful behavior toward you does not help. Showing favoritism toward your half-sister as she does, is very hard to take. Any child would feel heartbroken. Your “jealousy” is not the malicious vindictive type. Your jealousy is more of a heartache that surfaces in a painful negative way.
Sara, you are obviously very intelligent and a precious child of God. When we find ourselves in very difficult situations, which at times feel unbearable, we must step back and try to look at the entire picture. This is how you will be able to really forgive and forget in a way that does not consume you.
You have made efforts to befriend your half-sister. But she has been rude and unkind. And your mother is who she is. You have found out that these two people are not going to give you what you need. That is, unless they become true born-again believers, give their lives completely over to the Lord, face their sins and repent.
From what you describe, it may be a long time before your half-sister or mother make a honest profession of faith. (We don’t know if they ever will.) Nevertheless, you must find a way to cope without feeling like you are being constantly crushed and trampled on. The place to begin would be to change your perspective. This will be challenging at first, especially with the added burden of a husband who is also very self-serving and unfaithful.
But even with all of that, you have your two small children who I am sure adore you. God gave you these two little lives to love and care for. And in that loving and caring, you will find much of your healing.
Sara, I get so many letters from women who are in very difficult marriages and family situations. Your situation is especially difficult. But. Because we cannot change people, we need to make some decisions, to either remove ourselves from toxic relationships or find a way to deal with them. In your case it might be a bit of both.
Harboring the negative feelings you have is not good for you, you know that. Although what you feel is perfectly understandable. You have survived a lot. I have a saying, “Most people do what they do because of the awareness that they have at the time.” Yes, it make sense that your half-sister should be understanding of what you have had to endure and have some compassion for you. But in this world, sadly, far too many people think only of themselves.
But you are above that. You are kind, compassionate and willing to forgive and make things work. So instead of giving your energy to those who do not appreciate you, give it to those who will. First, to your young children and then find a way to connect with others whom you can relate to. And by giving your energy, I mean even your thoughts.
Recently I wrote about the importance of renewing our minds, which I am sure you have done to a great degree since you received Christ’s free gift of salvation. The Lord can help you move on to even a higher level that will enable you to carry on and not be so devastated by the disappointing and hurtful behavior of others.
Please get into the Scriptures every day and really study them. Stay close to Jesus in your prayer life, and separate yourself from this world. Pray throughout the day, listen to the Scriptures and Bible sermons as much as possible. Invest in a good CD so you can hear God’s Word. Think on those things which are lovely and good:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
You are surrounded with problematic people, but they do not have to be a part of your everyday life and thought patterns. The reality of what you are dealing with is there, but you can rise above those injustices to a point where the selfish hurtful behavior of those you wish you could count on—will not bother you as much. The burning flame of pain can turn into embers that flicker only a bit, now and then.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
It might seem like some people never have any pain or trouble, but that is simply not true. This world is filled with trials and tribulations, just as Jesus said it would be. It is most important to daily place the attention of your heart and mind on our soon coming King, on your future with the Lord. You were made alive in Christ when you received Him as your Savior, keep walking strongly with Him:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:2-4)
The last days prophetic Scriptures are being fulfilled and soon all the worries we have will be in our distant past. It is evident that you have a good relationship with the Lord, and it is He who can bring you to a new way of thinking. It is not fair to be surrounded by so many dysfunctional and toxic individuals but at least YOU have our Blessed Hope—Jesus.
By the world’s standards it appears that you are the one suffering the most in your family. But you are the one who will be going up in the Rapture, and unless your family members get saved, they will be left behind. You are saved. You have victory in Christ. The devil loses. You win.
But your family members who are not walking with the Lord and treating you badly, their fate is quite frightening—if they are left behind to suffer the Tribulation. Or die before accepting the Lord’s saving grace. But your life will ultimately get incredibly better because your future is with the Lord.
So you see Sara, it is YOU whom the Lord favors. It is YOU He has blessed. You can assess the situations around you but your fate is not with the lost, which includes those you have named, those who are treating you so disrespectfully. Pity them and keep praying for them. And thank God you are not one of them.
Your self-centered half-sister might act like she has everything going for her now, but she is really lost. You are the one who is blessed. You have received Christ in faith and have the wisdom and discernment to recognize His promises are true. Yes, you have not received the love and devotion you deserve from your earthly family, but you have it beyond measure from your Heavenly Father—the very One who created you is your greatest Advocate. His love for you is enormous.
And yes, it is terrible that those who should love and care for you are such weak and selfish individuals -- but you have a much greater fate. Your home in heaven. Your true home is with the Lord forever and ever.
But in the meantime He has entrusted to you to care for two little ones who need you. Fill their hearts and minds with the Scriptures. So many wonderful Christian children’s books and materials are available. I do have some specific suggestions which I can send you if you email me.
As you care for them, keep remembering that your days here on this earth are for a very short time in relation to eternity. Think of yourself as being on a trip, away from your true home temporarily. Always keep that thought in the foremost part of your mind.
All those who mistreat you have to continue living with themselves. But you are free from eternal damnation. You have victory in Christ. You are first with Christ!
“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16).
It is wise for you to avoid too much contact with your half-sister and mom, but as I said before, see them from a new perspective, pity them for not accepting the Lord and being so lost and worldly. You are in the driver’s seat with Jesus. Let Him steer the wheel to your eternal destiny.
When you catch yourself thinking about how badly you have been treated, think again. You have been treated very badly, but out of all your family members you are the one who has a special place reserved in heaven. Think on that glorious fact instead.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:3-4).
Here are some comforting words for you:
. . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged-Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness-Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our Refuge -Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee-Thou wilt find a solace there.
—Joseph Scriven, written 1855
It is going to be all right, Sara. Jesus is coming soon. Place all your hope in Him. I am here anytime, never hesitate to reach out.
In God’s love,
“For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).