On Forgiveness

by Walter Seow, 27 years old

I grew up in a very strict environment. I know that my mom has always loved me unconditionally, but because of her own wounds, that love was often expressed in imperfect ways. She was the typical Asian tiger mom and reigned over every aspect of my life. I recall being screamed at and caned on a regular basis, and for the slightest of mistakes, such as spilling a cup of water. As a result, I lived in a constant fear of my mom, and this continued even into my adulthood. 

All those years of living in fear and anxiety bred in me a lot of hate and anger towards my mom. I suppressed all the memories and emotions, resulting in a dysfunctional relationship that was defined by constant lying and a complete closing off of myself to her. 

During the School of Witness, at a para-liturgy session, we were invited to surrender to Jesus the people who have hurt us, and the hurt that they have caused us. At the foot of the cross of Christ, I articulated and surrendered each of the hurts my mom had caused me, and released forgiveness to her. As I did so, I felt the burden of carrying the hurts in my heart slowly being lifted off my shoulders.

But forgiveness is just the first step to healing, and Jesus was not done with me yet. As my cell group mates prayed for me, one of them shared that he was reminded of the scene at the foot of the cross, where the crucified Jesus said to the disciple whom he loved, in reference to Mary, “this is your mother”. And, as recorded in the Gospel of John, from that moment, the disciple made a place for Mary in his home.

As I heard those 4 words, “this is your mother”, I immediately broke into uncontrollable tears. 

I felt Jesus telling me that He was the one who had given my mother to me, and that, even if I could not see it, our mother-son relationship has been ordained by God for a purpose.

More profoundly, I realised that beyond giving me an earthly mother, Jesus has also given me a heavenly one. For all the times that I felt like I did not have an earthly mother, Mother Mary has always been the perfectly heavenly mother to me.

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After that encounter, I looked at the list of hurts which I had earlier penned. Whereas before, I felt anger and sorrow; now I even felt thankful that the hurts happened, because they all led me to Jesus Christ in those moments of encounter. 

The real test, however, came in the form of going home that weekend to my mum. Miraculously, I found that I was able to open up to her, have proper conversations, and be vulnerable and honest in those conversations in a way that I had not been able to do for more than a decade. Things she said that would normally have angered me – I found that I could receive them with open ears and an open heart. During those times, I would recall Jesus’s words to me, “this is your mother”, and any annoyance quickly faded away.

On this journey, I found that wholeness is not about being perfect. It is not about forgetting our past or our wounds. Rather, it is about surrendering our brokenness to Jesus, so that, in Him, they will be redeemed, and thereby find meaning and purpose.

My brothers and sisters, I do not know what you might be going through in life right now. But whatever brokenness that you might have, Jesus’s heart is breaking for you, and He invites you to allow Him to take your brokenness. Will you trust Him enough to surrender it to Him?


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