Many of us have experienced a hurt, offense, or abuse that wounded us so deeply that we found forgiving the offender impossible in our strength. Our guest contributor today knows this feeling all too well, which is why she calls forgiveness, “The Impossible Virtue.” Jessica Trozzo is a dear friend of Redeemed Girl. As one of our founding board members, she’s been with us since our infancy. She is a godly woman with incredible wisdom and insight into God’s Word. It is my absolute joy and honor to welcome Jessica to the Redeemed Girl Blog. I know you will be profoundly blessed by her words. –Marian
My dad told me years later, that her epidural only “took” on half of her body when giving birth to me. After bearing three of my own children, I couldn’t imagine what that must have felt like… half of your body writhing in pain while the other half was totally numb. The irony of it struck me later: my mom spending her days teetering somewhere between pain and numbness. My brother was born two years after me, weighing in at 2lbs 6ozs. This was the moment when my dad says he realized she was an alcoholic. My brother survived, but the traumatic birth only plunged Mom deeper into drinking.
The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy. – Jesus (John 10:10)
Like a bad song stuck on “repeat”, the line that ran through my head growing up was: “Mom chose alcohol over me.” The seed of rejection had been cast, and the root of bitterness had taken hold. It continued growing deep and thick in my heart over the next several years. It wasn’t until college, when I fully understood the truth of the gospel that “Goddid choose me,” that real healing began.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you.” – Jesus (John 15:16)
Almost immediately after I had become a Christian, the devil began harassing me about the impossibility of God fully forgiving my darkest of sins. One afternoon, as I prayed about this, the Lord gave me a vision of Jesus hanging on the cross: bruised, bloodied and brokenhearted… he lifted his heavy head and through a piercing yet loving look asked: “Isn’t this enough to cover your sin? Isn’t this sufficient?” My heart now ached over grieving Jesus even more with my doubts about his sacrifice being “enough” to pay for all my sins. Of course it was sufficient. I repented of my unbelief and learned to receive the gracious gift of forgiveness.
“It is finished.” – Jesus’ last words on the cross (John 19:30)
My wrestling match was now in its last round. Understanding the fullness of my own forgiveness left me with no option, but to extend it to my mother also. How could I bask in the new peace and freedom of my own forgiveness and not return that same grace to another? The bitter root in my heart had been exposed.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Now Paul was speaking my language. This summed up many of my emotions toward my mom: bitterness, anger, clamor… and now I was being told to “put these away” and forgive as Christ had forgiven me. Put simply, forgiveness felt impossible. And so I learned my first lesson, of many lessons, on the power of the Holy Spirit!
I know of no other way to explain it except for that I bowed my will to the Lord’s and asked him to “do it” for me. My prayer went something like this: “Lord, I want to forgive because you’ve forgiven me, and I know it’s your will. I want what you want. Please do this in me. I forgive Mom, but please catch my heart up because it’s not quite feeling it yet.” Forgiveness is the most mysterious virtue. It strikes me as the most unnatural thing a human can do, directly opposed to our innate instincts of self-defense and preservation. This is why I love it! Nothing shows the power of the gospel and the empowering of a man by the Spirit, more than forgiveness. It is a beauty to behold because it is completely and totally a work of the Lord!
My power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
After college, I prayed often for my mom, and one day I was struck with the realization that she didn’t know I’d forgiven her. I became overwhelmed by the thought that Satan could be using that as ammunition to force her even further into a corner of shame and despair. But how do you communicate to someone who has never admitted that they’ve hurt you… to someone that has never asked for your forgiveness at all? Calling her up and announcing, “By the way, I’ve forgiven you,” felt presumptuous and almost insincere. So I asked the Lord, “How do I communicate to my mom that she is forgiven?”
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
A few weeks later, I received a call that Mom had been rushed to the emergency room with complications due to her alcoholism. Once stabilized, she was to undergo detox and would then be moved to a rehabilitation facility. When she has been transferred to the rehab center, I went to visit her with my first “actually read” Bible from college in my hand.
As the Lord would have it, there was a chapel service beginning just after I arrived. We sat in the back and listened. I prayed. After the message, she turned and looked at me pitifully and said, “I don’t know how you turned out the way you did with me being such a terrible mother.”
The Lord had given me the “forgiveness lay-up” I needed! I looked her in the eye and said, “Mom, my sin is just as gross as your sin… they are both awful in the eyes of the Lord, but because of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, the Lord has forgiven me… and I have forgiven you. God wants to forgive you too, and He can wash you white as snow.”
She held my Bible close to her chest as she returned to her room. It is a precious image forever engrained in my mind. It was a healing day… for both of us.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Before that day, I had been praying hard and even putting myself out there, calling up the troops to pray. In my bold faith, I had envisioned her as a new woman, on the streets of Austin witnessing to others about God’s power to forgive, heal, and redeem. The Lord was going to be so glorified, and I couldn’t wait to share this amazing transformation story with everyone!
Mom was released from the rehab on a Friday. I called her that evening, but when she answered it was in her all too familiar subdued and slurred voice. After a brief chat, I hung up. Then I doubled over as if Satan himself had entered my apartment and given me a sucker punch in the gut. I felt so defeated. I felt like he had won. And I was angry with God and in that anger, I questioned, “How are you going to get your glory from this now, Lord?” The rebuke was quick, and for that I am thankful, as it is always good to keep short accounts with the Lord. He spoke to me firmly, “My glory is mine to get in the way I chose to do so.”
My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
A few weeks later, my mom called. Although she was not sober, it was a significant conversation. She told me in that phone call that she wished she had faith like mine. I said, “Well Mom, it’s for you, just as it is for me.” She said, “Well, I’m praying everyday,” to which I asked, “but are you praying in the name of Jesus? Because that is the only name with all the power, the only name that can save you.” And she replied, “I am.”
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
I can’t remember if we had another conversation after that or not, but I cling to that one… knowing that God is merciful and patient and wanting all to come to him. I took the promise of Romans 10:13 to heart. I believe in her desperately broken place, she realized her powerlessness over alcohol. I believe she genuinely bowed her heart to him and asked for his divine help to overcome this stronghold.
She was gone a month later. At a mere 50 years old, her body quit fighting the alcohol that poisoned it daily. Although, Satan won many battles in her life, the Lord had won the war in the last hour. What a merciful and powerful God we have! I thank Him for opening my eyes and showing Himself to me. I thank Him for forgiving me and supernaturally removing the suffocating root of bitterness that had grown in my broken heart. And I thank Him for healing my heart. So much of that healing process came through learning how to submit to Him and trust His Holy Spirit do the work of forgiveness in me. He forgave me, so that I could forgive her. I believe God used this to lead her to a place of repentance and receptivity to the truth of His saving power. Finally, I am thankful that I can look forward to continuing my relationship with my mom in Heaven. God got his glory, His way. Hallelujah and amen!
… God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance…
Jessica Trozzo is a dear friend of Redeemed Girl Ministries. She has a passion for believers to walk in the abundant life Christ died to give us and is also a small business owner of TEN:NINE Co where she creates custom door designs to welcome guests and warm the home. You can follow her on Instagram @ten9co. Jessica resides in Houston, Texas with her husband Matt and their three adorable children.