The first workshop I attended at the 2014 Hearts at Home conference was Leslie Leyland Fields' Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. Fields is an international speaker who has written nine books including Parenting is Your Highest Calling . . . and Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt as well as Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. She lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska, with her husband of thirty-six years and the last two of her six children who range in age from eleven to twenty-five.
What I enjoyed the most about her presentation was her honest account of her own dysfunctional childhood mixed with healing based not only on the Bible, but also psychology. Thus, the co-author of Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers is Dr. Jill Hubbard, a clinical psychologist.
During Fields' talk, one could hear sobbing throughout the lecture hall for not only Fields' story, but for one's own story being not only acknowledged, but truly heard. A woman in what looked to be in her fifties seated near me had a stream of tears running down her face. My heart ached for her because I could see that hurt girl inside this woman and identify with her. I wanted to reach over and wrap my arms around her, but movable desktops blocked my way. Instead, I gave her my e-mail as we were shuffling out of the auditorium and told her she was not alone.
Over the years, I have heard in regards to my own personal story, "Get over it!" and "I am sorry for whatever you think I have done," which does nothing to ease the memory or the hurt. In reading memoirs written by my writing students, the forms of abuse parents inflict on their children is unimaginable whether through threats, denial, accusations, or neglect to name a few. In talking with others, I ask, "Why?" For, a child is a gift from God.
Wishing to connect further with Fields and her story, I purchased Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers and read it in a span of twenty-four hours. Click here to read the review.
Out of 213 pages, I marked ninety-nine passages. The following is a sampling . . .
". . . we are entrusted with our pasts, and we must make something out of the 'burden of our witnessing'" (12).
" . . . our fathers and mothers are acts, attitudes, afflictions that affect each child differently and not evenly" (36).
"Psalm 56:8 says, 'You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book'" (36-37).
"Too much frustration, chaos, and unpredictability [in a child's life] creates varying degrees of trauma" (58).
" . . . must remember the child you once were, to give that child the validation and voice she or he never had" (104).
"Those who have hurt us may not repent- ever. They may not change in any way" (123).
"God allows us to recall some of our memories as needed, and some He keeps recessed for our own protection until we are ready" (173).
"Our childhoods are stolen. The land we are taken to is oppressive. We want only to escape" (179).
" . . . God replaced all that with other people who cared" (193).
"We do not need the offender's remorse or repentance in order to forgive, of course. However, without that repentant response, we cannot be reconciled" (199).
Thank you for having woman blessing Sarah K. think of me and invite me to Hearts at Home. Thank you for connecting me with Leslie Leyland Fields, her book, and the woman seated next to me during the lecture. Your work of six degrees of separation is humbling. Please guide me to be the best mother I can be to my two girls.
In your name, I pray,
By Courtney Winkler