“Lord, Why Was I Born Into This Family?”

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Where is God when we are born into a family of abuse?  There are some wounds so deep that we can carry them with us our entire lives without knowing it.  But God has a plan for redemption and restoration for each of us.  Our friend Johnny shares a powerful testimony about abuse, anger and withdrawal, a search for meaning that led him across the world, and ultimately, radical and unexpected healing and forgiveness.

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “ 

My testimony is about forgiveness.  It is something that I have struggled mightily with for decades.  Especially when it comes to my family.   

I had no relationship with my father growing up.  He was an old school Confucian raised in wartime Korea that didn’t believe in God. Anything but absolute obedience to his will wasn’t tolerated.  He was very cold.  One time, when I was ten, I went to the neighbors’ to play with their toys on Christmas morning. We never really celebrated Christmas.  I couldn’t resist playing with all my neighbors new transformers.  “Oh boy! Optimus Prime, Megatron?! Oh man!” The phone rang at my neighbors.  It was my parents.  They wanted me home.  So I went home.  Right when I walked in the door, my father smacked me, knocking me out.  When I regained consciousness, I looked in the mirror and saw that I had a black lip. He thought I was being disobedient.

My mother was a devoted Catholic bordering on fanaticism.  I can’t remember ever having missed mass. She was obsessed with the legalisms of Catholicism and never allowed me to miss mass, confession, or doing the rosary for that matter.  No exaggeration, I think I did tens of thousands of Hail Mary’s during my youth.  She was a submissive wife, obsessed with work, that enabled the mood swings of my father dominate the house.

I had an older sister (she’s no longer with us) who was very cruel and ignorantly abusive.  It probably didn’t help that my parents gave her full reign to do whatever she wanted to me, being the older sibling.  I remember always being hungry after school waiting in the library until my mom got off work to pick me up, while she would go and feast with her friends at some hamburger joint.  Slamming the door in my face was a regular occurrence.  That’s not a metaphor. (Like, physical door in my physical face) But I got used to it along with her beatings and name calling. It was a family where I just didn’t feel love…[click “Read More” below to continue]

I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “Lord, why was I born into this family?  Where is the love, God? Save me, Lord!” If I had to, I could probably play the role of a North Korean Refugee pretty convincingly.  If my testimony sounds funny, that’s okay.  I’ve cried so many tears over this that the Lord is blessing me with a sense of humor and irony as I write this.

As I got older, I forgot about my family and strayed from God.  I went to college, grad school, and then got a job.  I was having difficulty with life in the “real world”.  Things didn’t feel right.  I couldn’t pin point my sense of isolation to one thing.  I  was having trouble relating to people.  I was very angry and started to become more withdrawn.  As anger turned to depression I led a very confused existence just, wandering really. I roamed all the way to India seeking spiritual insight into my problems. I traveled to big, highly regarded ashrams and learned meditation. Other than feeling a mild sense of peace or numbness, I didn’t feel better .  I just began to feel more uprooted, like a dead leaf dancing in the air, prey to wherever the wind blew.  My health actually started to deteriorate. I started losing weight.  I could feel my energy level dipping.  I would go to work, and just come home and crash until the next morning.  I’d stumble out of bed and drag myself to work in the same striving way.  I went to what seemes like a million different doctors asking them to tell me what was wrong with me.  They all just gave me prescriptions for this and that condition but I didn’t see any improvement.  I tried fasting for weeks at a time.  But my energy just kept plummeting until one day, I couldn’t get out of bed. 

My immune system was shot.  I was just lying there lifeless on my bed. I was dying. I thought, if I don’t do something, I am going to die here alone. Something came over me, and I started praying.  I started praying to God like I had never prayed before.  I started raising my hands up to God in the air.  In my room, sick and bedraggled, I began to pray to the Lord with my hands above my head saying, “Lord, I surrender. I surrender!!” And at that moment I began to remember my family.  Out of nowhere I saw images of my father, my mother, my late sister.  I began to feel the unforgiveness that I had unknowingly been harboring in my heart all those years.  God showed me that I had not yet forgiven my family for all I felt wronged by and that that was why I was dying.  And as I my knees crumbled to the floor, I became filled with the desire to be delivered of this unforgiveness, of this pain in my heart.  Shortly thereafter, I called my boss who was a Christian.  I told her I needed help with this.  She told me to come to her house, that she would introduce me to somebody.  So I mustered my body together and went to her house.

I arrived at my boss’ house.  She greeted me at the door and welcomed me in.  I sat down on floor where she told me to wait.  Moments later, a young middle aged lady entered the room.  She introduced herself as “Yerin”. I could feel God’s blessings  all around her .  She told me to come sit in front of her. Then she took my hand my hand and held it.  She started to prophecy.  She started saying all these things that my heart knew to be true.  She spoke of my family in ways that only I knew.  She told me that God was telling her.  That my family wasn’t able to show me God’s love because they weren’t equipped.  She spoke of how God was listening all that time when I cried out as a child.  But when she was speaking, she was speaking in first person, in the voice of God.  And I don’t know why, but I knew it was the voice of the Lord.  I felt like an open book.  Then she started to speak in the Holy Ghost, and I felt this wave of love just come crashing over me.  The next thing I knew, my back was on the ground.  I remember my body violently jolting incessantly as tears started streaming from my eyes.  Then I started wailing. This took me by surprise because I didn’t know that I had been carrying so much.  I weeped like a child for a while before I was overcome with a peace I had never felt.  I felt a certain lightness. Something had been lifted. When it was all over, I knew.  I I knew I had been delivered. I knew that all unforgiveness had left my heart. I knew that God is alive. I thanked her and went on my way.  When I got home, I went to bed thanking and praising Jesus for helping me to forgive my family.

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