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Sep 06, 2022 192 Rosanne Pappas,
Engage

Love That Heals

Yearning to feel God’s love deep in your heart? All you need to do is ask

I heard my son’s truck pull into the driveway. I quickly pushed back tears, wiped my face with my sleeve, and went out into the garage to greet him.

“Hey Mom,” he said with a grin.

“Hey honey.”

“What brings you here this morning?” I asked.

“Dad said I received a package. I’m going to grab it before I head out to the office,” he said.

“Oh, okay,” I replied.

He grabbed the package and I followed him out to his truck.

He gave me a big hug.

“You okay Mom?” he asked.

“I’m okay,” I answered with a shrug.

I turned my face to hide my tears.

“She’s just going through a rough patch. She’ll be alright,” he said gently about his sister.

“Yeah, I know. It’s hard though. It’s just too much sadness. Her sadness is just too tough for me. I don’t know why but from a young age I’ve been surrounded by people struggling with sadness. Is it just my lot in life?”

He raised his eyebrows questioningly.

“Or maybe,” I continued, “there’s something here I need to see.”

“Maybe. I’m here Mom if you need me,” he said.

Haunting Memory

“Depression can be part of a family system,” my therapist said. “You and your daughter are very close, but sometimes relationships can get enmeshed. What I mean is that there need to be boundaries, a healthy separation for growth and independence.”

“I just feel like I’ve worked so hard to make changes but honestly, I can’t bear her sadness,” I replied. “And little things feel so big. Like Easter evening. After dinner, my daughter asked if she could visit her boyfriend. As I watched her pull out of the driveway a wave of dread and panic washed over me. I know her leaving was not about me, but I felt so much shame,” I said.

“Can you remember when you first felt that type of panic and dread?” the therapist asked.

I began sharing the difficult memory that immediately surfaced.

“We were all in my parents’ bedroom,” I said. “Dad was angry. Mom was a wreck. She was holding my baby brother and trying to calm down my dad, but he was too mad. We were getting ready to sell our house to move to a new one. Dad was raging because the house was in a shambles, as he put it.”

“How old were you?”

“About seven,” I said.

“Let’s go back to that room in your memory and do some work,” she said.

As we processed the memory, I discovered I had focused on my parents’ and siblings’ feelings but not my own. When I finally got in touch with what I was feeling, the floodgates opened. It was hard to stop crying; there was just so much sadness.

I had believed everyone’s happiness was my responsibility. When my therapist asked what would have helped me feel safe and cared for in that experience, I realized what I needed but didn’t receive. I took responsibility for the wounded seven-year-old inside me. Even though she had not received what she needed then, the adult me would meet those needs, and dispel the lie that she was responsible for making others happy.

When we’d finished, my therapist said, “I know that was difficult. But I can assure you it will pay off. I’ve seen many parents heal through the struggles of their children.”

Healing Encounter

Shortly after my session, my friend, Anne, called unexpectedly.

“You want to meet me at the healing Mass today?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said.

After Mass, a line formed of people seeking healing prayers. I waited and soon I was ushered to two female spiritual directors.

“What would you like to ask Jesus for?”

“To heal my childhood wounds,” I said.

They began to pray silently over me.

Then one of the women prayed aloud, “Jesus, heal her of the wounds of her childhood. She was just a little girl standing in the middle of all that rage, confusion, and chaos, feeling all alone and desperate for relief. Jesus, we know that she was not alone. We know that You were there with her. And we know that You have always been with her, throughout her life. Thank you, Jesus for her healing and the healing of her family.”

In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus standing next to me. He looked at me intently, with love and compassion. I understood that my parents’ and siblings’ sorrow and pain was never mine to carry, and that Jesus had always been with me, sharing the weight of my sadness and pain. He had orchestrated the exact moment when the hidden places in my heart would be filled with His healing love and mercy.

Silently, I wept.

I walked away in awe. The woman’s prayer perfectly described what I had experienced so long ago. This intimate encounter with Jesus was incredibly healing.

Answered Prayer

I soon realized that my desire to lift others up and meet their needs was, in part, a subconscious desire to meet my own needs and be healed. While I carried the weight of other people’s sadness, I was unaware of my ocean of pain that I had never expressed.

Recently, my daughter told me she felt guilty for her sadness, and that she felt she was a burden to me. I felt horrible. How could she feel that way? But then I understood. She wasn’t a burden, but her sadness was. I had felt pressure to make her better so that I could feel better. And that made her feel guilty.

My healing has brought me relief.

Knowing Jesus is with my daughter, orchestrating her healing, frees me to love her just as she is.

With God’s grace, I will continue to take responsibility for the beautiful life God has given me. I will allow Him to continue healing me so I can be an open vessel for God’s love to flow through.

I once asked a wise counselor, “I know that Jesus is always with me and that I can trust in His goodness to care for me, but will I ever feel it in my heart?”

“Yes, you will,” he said. “He will make it so.”

Amen. So it is.

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Rosanne Pappas

Rosanne Pappas is an artist, author, and speaker. Pappas inspires others as she shares personal stories of God’s grace in her life. Married for over 35 years, she and her husband live in Florida, and they have four children.

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