“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
Genesis 50:20 (NLT)
My daughter’s fourteenth birthday is coming up in one month.
Also in one month, one day before her birthday, the book I wrote about learning how to love and forgive my alcoholic mother releases. The book opens with me at age fourteen.
The grace is almost too much.
My daughter and I couldn’t have had a more different childhood.
When I was fourteen years old, I discovered my mom was an alcoholic. And not only did I discover this, I decided in my earnest innocence, that I would confront her about it. Then, just like on the talk show I’d seen where an intervention turned to hugs and help and joy, I thought my mom would realize her addiction and the pain she caused and that there would be hugs and help and joy.
But it didn’t turn out like that.
When I approached my mom to have the intervention, she was on the screened-in porch, a cigarette between her fingers, drink in her hand.
I stammered out the words, “I have to talk to you about something.”
She inhaled deep and flicked the ashes. Her dirty blonde hair was parted down the middle, and thin wisps scraggled down past her shoulders. She was a thick woman, pretty, with an inch-long indent on her forehead from when her dad had kicked her into the edge of a table. Her skin was tan and dotted, and she had a slight gap between her two front teeth. I missed hugging her. The last time I had tried to hug her she had pushed me away.
Heat crawled up my neck and into my head. I smiled because I was nervous. “I think . . . maybe . . . I’ve noticed that . . . I think . . . Mom, you’re an alcoholic.”
Did she not understand?
“Mom, when you drink — and you drink a lot — you get really mean. And I think you’re an alcoholic.”
“Mom, you don’t care that you’re an alcoholic and that you are so mean when you drink? You really hurt me.”
She rolled her eyes at me.
“Oh Sarah, I drink — so what? You need to get over it.”
Another drink, another drag; she wasn’t interested.
“Honestly mom, you’re just so mean and . . . I don’t think I love you anymore.”
She laughed again.
My insides started to burn, her nonchalance the oxygen.
Later, as I stepped into the bathtub, I entertained thoughts of opening my veins and letting the fire out with the blood. I yelled out to my mom that maybe I’d just kill myself. End it all there, alone. Would she care then?
She yelled back, “Go ahead. I dare you.”
That was my life at age fourteen. And it continued like this for several years, including getting pregnant at sixteen and being pressured into having an abortion, and then too much anxiety and false love to count.
But God, who loves to show up in the darkness and bring the most glorious light, showed up in my pit and pulled me out of it and set me on a Rock, a firm foundation, which is Jesus.
Oh yes, Satan was out for blood, but he didn’t get mine.
God set me on that Rock and lit up the rough road I would travel, but it was a road I never walked alone. He has always been with me. And now I have a husband and three kids whom I adore, including that newly fourteen-year-old who knows what it means to be safe and loved and seen and secure.
Satan wants our blood; he wants our lives to be destroyed, goodness and innocence to be stolen, and his twisted lies to be louder than the truth. But our God has the victory, and when He intervenes, there is no eye-rolling or laughing or ignoring. God comes for our rescue, and all we have to do is accept it.
I don’t know what you’re going through or what the enemy has done to hurt you, steal your joy, twist the truth, or try to kill in you, but I know that whatever it is — whatever it is — God can and will use it for good.
How has God showed up in your darkest days to bring you into the light?
If you’ve struggled with a difficult relationship, if you’ve felt torn up and crazy and confused because of it, if you need to know that dysfunction does not have to be your legacy, my new book, The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts, is for you. And when you preorder it, you get the audiobook, read by me, for FREE. For details and to order, head HERE.
Whatever you’re going through or whatever the enemy has done to hurt you, steal your joy, twist the truth, or tried to kill in you, God can and will use it for good. -@sarahmae: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I’m so sorry for the pain that the little girl in you had to endure. I pray for God’s merciful healing in those deep hurts whenever the enemy tries to stir up the pain. Praise that you are breaking the cycle of dysfunction and are leaving a legacy of love. I have endured a lot of pain, as well, in my life and it would be easy to get stuck on the Why me? But like you quoted from Psalm 40:1-3 (my life verse), God has lifted me from the slimy pit, out of the muck and mire and placed me on a firm rock on which to stand. As I look back on all the pain, abuse, dysfunction, illness, mercifully the One thing I always see is God’s nearness to me. He came to my rescue each and every time. He enabled me to stand through the storms and He wooed me into a deep and intimate relationship with Him. I learned utter reliance and dependence upon Him and He has shown, over and over again, that He is, indeed, good and trustworthy. The enemy knows my Achilles heel and he comes at me (and you) with a vengeance. I keep calling on the Lord to fight this spiritual battle for me. The Lord will fight for me, I need only to be still. May your book touch and heal many hurting hearts!
BEV, WHAT A STORY , SO SAD MY PAIN , MY STORM, BUT IM TRYING TO SEE ITS NOT ALL MY PAIN , MY STORM, ITS MY FAMILIES PAIN THEIR STORM, GOD IS FIGHTING FOR THIS FAMILY I JUST NEED TO BE STILL. JAMES 1:19 WATCH MY WORDS. MY HUSBAND STILL DRINKS NIGHTLY,I LONG FOR COMPANIONSHIP , MY DAUGHTERS DO NOT WANT TO HEAR MY THOUGHTS THEY KNOW WHAT IS BEST( not) , as you said in last email to me they are holding my heart hostage, so day by day i m going to loosen one link of this heavy chain, my life verse is 1peter5:7 i love to read it but its hard to do!!!! I know god is working for the good. Doing a fall bible study ps. 23. My church family have been so kind to all of you girls In) courage blog have been a source of comfort, we all have pain but remember, god doesn’t produce pain, he helps us through it. My new favorite saying NOT TODAY SATAN
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It sounds like you are doing some good things for yourself. Sadly, we can’t change the behavior of those around us, we can only change our reaction to it and we can only change our own behavior. God definitely does not produce pain…that’s the enemy’s job, but God will allow pain only for the reason that He will use it to build your character and conform you into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. God is ALWAYS working for Good. He is love and He cannot deny Himself. In telling Satan “No, not today!” I thought of this song I like by Hillsong called “Not Today.” The chorus goes: “Jesus, let the devil no, not today.” It’s worth a listen; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kebQsnSTRI
Praying for you,
Bev you make my day with your uplifting emails. I’m trying the james1:19 listen , talk less as you know my kids are in their 20,s very young, i was thinking back when i was 20something mistake, after mistake my parents tried to talk , but i thought i knew it all !!!!! I pray for you in your season of hurt , anxiety/depression is tough, then life hits , I don’t know how people go through this without god at their side, holding on to his word , i even sleep with my bible.
Cassandra Smith says
Added to Sarah Mae’s devotion, your words touched a chord in me that reminded me that my pains from the past doesn’t have what it takes to compete with the power of God.
Diane Payne says
Alissa Coburn says
Sarah Mae, I’m so sorry for the hurt of your past, but also incredibly, overwhelmingly grateful you’ve received and embraced God’s grace. My parents are alcoholics, too; so, to a degree, I get it. I’m praying for you right now for your book release AND your sweet daughter’s 15th year! (Which is really what turning 14 is – entering your 15th year). Much love and blessings!
My heart breaks at reading what you had to endure as a child. Praise God for him rescuing you and I agree with Bev, it is amazing and wonderful you have broken from the pattern of dysfunction. I pray that your book reaches those that need it and how you have allowed God to use your experience for good to help others. I imagine it can’t have been easy to write and revisit painful memories. Thank you for sharing your story here and glorifying God in the same post. Glory be to him!!
Lord please continue to heal any wounds that may be left within Sarah Mae, give her continued strength and peace and bless her writings to reach those that need it. IJN, Amen
Michele Morin says
So grateful that you have allowed God’s peace and comfort to sink deep into your bones. And thank you for the poignant metaphor: Yes! Satan is out for blood, but we defeat him by wearing the armor God provides!
Joey Rudder says
Oh my goodness, Sarah. What a powerful post, a life-changing testimony. Thank you for sharing this. I found myself reading and wishing I could slip back in time to the younger you and just give you a hug, holding you and praying with you. I am so deeply sorry for the pain you endured. But as you wrote, “whatever it is — God can and will use it for good.” He is using you and your story in a mighty way to help and encourage others. May God bless you abundantly and hold you closer than ever before.
Becky Beresford says
Sarah Mae, thank you for these powerful words! I think I get lost in the hardship and pain sometimes, forgetting that this attack is from another source. You are so right… the enemy is out for blood! But we’ve been covered by the Savior’s blood, so the devil can’t have mine… or ours.
Such a beautifully redemptive story! Thanks for sharing, girl!
Wow! What a testimony. I needed to read this this morning. Thank you so very much for your vulnerability. I’m very curious about your book!
Powerful read. Great choice for the title of your book. Certainly makes me want to read it. Loving hurts too much sometimes. Look forward to what insight you have to share!
Ohh, Sarah Mae, my heart breaks for you. Especially at the young age of 14, I cannot imagine the fear, pain, and anxieties you must have been dealing with. Thankful that you have broken that cycle, and your kids have a safe a secure place. As kids we are innocent, we need that safe place and love. Your family sounds like a blessing.
I’m sure as your daughter reaches that age of 14, memories and nightmares flashback. Just as if this was yesterday, I pray that your mental health is improved as I know these types of “ trauma” can wrench havoc on one for life. God has us covered and he’s our protector. Hugs to you…
I was one of those mothers. I wish someone would write a book on how to reestablish a relationship with a daughter that I was so mean to. She lives 2000 miles away and I am so broken about it but I know my Lord and Savior will show me the way to repair this relationship
Sarah Mae says
Pat, I think you would like my book because it’s not just my story, it’s my mom’s as well, and there is and can be redemption. It’s never too late.
Pat, will you email me at sarah (at) sarahmae.com?
Love to you.
I’m glad I saw your letter, Pat, and your reply to it, Sarah.
No mention of a father, I guess he was never around. So I wondered about your mother after reading about the dent on her forehead. She goes through life with that brand, a give-away as much as a tattoo.
How worthless she must have felt, how unworthy of receiving love, how totally unable to give it.
So I’m very happy to see you assure Pat, “It’s never too late.” May that apply to your mother.
Pat , blessings to you, I know you are sorry pain as a child at the hands of a parent is TOUGH!! My father took a belt to me as young child the wounds were not the belt marks but the belt marks on my heart i was abandoned by my. Birth parents as a baby left alone in a laundry room never did find them. This is crazy ive never wrote this down its been in my heart I’m 57. I see a counselor . Pat you need to try to reach out to your daughter, tell you are sorry ask for forgiveness. My husband drinks nightly, its a awful . He doesn’t hit , or get mean he just falls a sleep, lonely for me.
Susan Long says
Sarah Mae – Thank you for sharing how God has worked in your life. So often we are ashamed of the past instead of revealing how God has used it to his glory. I am sorry for the pain you have endured and rejoice that your daughter has such a different childhood from yours. I do not know if your mother is still alive, but if she is I pray that she will be brought to a point of healing and restoration. Indeed, what a mighty God we serve!
Beth Williams says
So sorry for the tragic/painful upbringing you had. God has worked miracles in you to help you get past some of that. Satan is crafty. He will do everything he can to bring us down & defeated. It takes intentionality to overcome the lies he tells us. We must have the full armor of God on to fight the battle. Your post brings to mind the song & movie “Overcomer”-song by Mandisa & movie by Kendrick brothers coming out in September. I went through some trials dealing with aging parents. Jesus was the only one who could help me through them. Having made it through that valley in my life I am stronger than before. More readily able to trust God with any situation. My motto now is “Nothing is to difficult for me-& God”. So grateful that you are leaving a legacy for your children. You have broken the chains that bound. With Jesus’s help you freed yourself from the past. God uses our pain for His good. He knows every trial that will come our way. Just as in Job’s story He allows trials to gain His glory & bring us even closer to Him.
Thank you for sharing this Sarah. Your story has touched me and inspired me to share a bit of my own.
15 years ago I walked away from my birth family after 38 years for verbal & emotional abuse. When I finally found the courage to move myself and my family away from them, my siblings did everything in their power to tear my family apart and in some aspects, they succeeded. My heart was left broken and my nervous system was left impaired due to the severe daily stress they placed on us for over a year.
This was 15 years ago and I still carry the internal scars from the emotional wounds. Recently my mother passed away and all three of my siblings picked up their verbal hateful arrows and took aim at me once again. From what I have heard through the grapevine, whenever someone would send their condolences, my brothers and sister would make sure to darken my reputation to the sympathizer. This behavior was one of the many reasons I walked away years ago.
Today’s verse “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Brought me hope for a better tomorrow. I was so busy asking God to make it all stop, that I forgot He has a bigger plan for me and my life. All I have to do is be still and he will take care of the outcome. WHAT A RELIEF!
As I was journaling about this, I remembered another important verse and that is “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Whatever I do, I need to make sure that I don’t repeat the hurtful behavior of my siblings and speak ill of others damaging their reputations; either on purpose or by accident. Two reminders in one sitting!
Thanks again Sarah for sharing your story, you are a blessing.
Sarah E Skinner says
Not everyone’s story wraps up nicely with a bow…(three kids and the white picket fence) Can you encourage people without all the ribbons and bows of life? Maybe encouragement should simply be, keep walking, I’m walking, you keep walking too. We will walk together and whatever we encounter we will have each other.
Sarah Mae says
The surprise ending isn’t about a tied up bow, it’s what God does inside us, changing us, maturing us, even in the pain. So yes, I echo you, keep walking, keep trusting, keep believing He has you and is with you no matter what.
Love to you.
Love that thought!!!!
I am deeply sorry for all of the pain and suffering that you have endured. We can overcome the trials of life, persevere and do good, thanks to God. I know Thank-you so much for blessing us by sharing with us today.
Blessings to all,
Oh my gosh this is so MY story – the alcoholic, smoker mother, the failed intervention, the teen pregnancy and abortion. And then ten years later Jesus showed up and turned my life around. I will be reading this book.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Sarah I pray for you. I know a Mum she is a Nursing home now. I don’t want to say any names. She drank for years and smoked. Her only Daughter left at 11 to live with Dad. The Daughter has done well now she has two boys. Mother and Daughter not saved. But Daughter never came to visit herdrank but this year only after this year 31 years later came to visit her Mom in the Nursing home. I prayed God would bring them together. The Daughter came over to see her Mom with her partner. They made friends. God answered my prayers. I am now praying for them all the Daughter and the Mom and the Daughter’s Partner plus her two boys to all get saved. For the Mother who is in a Nursing Home now to relise her answer never lay in drink or Cigarettes. But it lies in Jesus. That she will get saved also. As when I saw her with Drink it was sad. I read in another Daily read called Our Daily Bread. It said on day in it. No one is out of the reach of Jesus. That is so very true. No one is out of the reach of Jesus. It is so good that God answered my prayers and Daughter after 31 years made friends with her Mother. I know in Gods perfect timing they will both get saved along with her partner and her two boys. Plus the Father of the boys. Look at what a mighty God we have and all he brought you through. He never once left your side. Even though you might have thought at times God where are you? Especially when felt you needed your Mom when young. She was not there my friends Mom was not there for her at 11 she went to live with her Dad. Did not see for 31 years. But God is always there he never leaves us not for sakes us. I heard people say when the Daughter came to see her Mom why she bothering now. I said yes to myself at least she is. Even if not saved and she does not know she is doing what it says in the Bible Honoring her Mother. Her Mother was so glad to see her 31 years later they made friends. Your story God will honor you for telling it. As you will help so many people. Forgive and get the Christian counseling need. That they have not been able to get until now. Do the right thing in Gods eyes. Xxx
Your post resonated with me as well. I didn’t have an alcoholic mother but father and stepfather. She was an enable and very rarely stood up for us. Only by the grace of God am I a functioning adult. There was no affection or mothering, really. We (me and my siblings) just tried our best to figure life out as best we could. We have all married and raised our children opposite of how we were raised. The forgiving comes easier than the forgetting but if you give the past too much value you’ll never be able to let go and move on.
Jesus knows me this I love!