Life before Christ:
My grandmother exposed me to a lot of Vietnamese traditions and I read up on some beautiful folk tales that explained a lot about life. The family etiquette is to honor our elders and parents, and you would earn your respect when you became an adult. Do good and your next life will be healthy and prosperous.
At age 5, I wanted to show that my mom was the one that I would honor and make proud.
My mom was a hard worker and a single parent when she immigrated to Kansas. From a young child she pushed me to be less shy and to be bold. She saw that I was naive and taught me to not believe everything that I was told. She even noticed that the kids at school were bullying me, and told me to stand up for myself. Every time I tried I would shut down and hide. The pressure to confront and the fear of disappointing my mom was so overwhelming.
The initial path to my mother's love was blurred for me and hard to define as her having good intentions. Rather than have my mom empathize with all my emotions, my mom responded to what she had only experienced with her own mother: she would discipline me, until I stopped being shy and scared.
When I became a teenager, I resented my mom for always being too hard on me.
My friend saw the struggle to respect and honor my mom, so he invited me to church. I remembered at the end of service the pastor would ask if anyone would like to ask Jesus to come into your heart. He said that God loves you, and that you are enough.
When I heard this, I felt a huge weight fall off my shoulders. I began to feel a sense of freedom from the traditions that I was brought up with, and realised the folk tales told were indeed just tales.
Without hesitation I raised my hand to accept Lord Jesus into my life, and started my journey to faith.
God knew the struggle and pressure to honor and respect my mom. He saw my disappointment when I failed to do what I thought was good.
What was formulated in my head as me plus good works equaled love, was quickly corrected when I heard and read God’s word.
The search for everlasting love was found. It was the complete opposite of what I had experienced with my mom.
God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life (John 3:16 ERV).
That day at church, at age 14 in 1996, I trusted Jesus to lead my life and let him transform my life through his death and life.
I am now 38 years old, and life with Jesus has freed me from living in resentment, and into a new life of forgiving my mom. Jesus has brought me into a place where I can see her love and understand that her intentions were good. I am blessed to see her in this new light and love. There is hope and grace given abundantly to my mom. Not only do I give my mom the same grace that God freely gives, but I give myself permission to have His grace too.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).