Watch a short video of Teresa sharing a few reflections about her Faithwalking journey, and then read a short story below about her childhood and a recent breakthrough.
This is a story about teasing. I was the youngest of three and had an older brother and older sister. I remember the situation very clearly even though it happened so many years ago. I was about five, or six at the very most, and there was a game that my brother and sister played with me. I remember them both being in the room at this particular time, and I think it happened at the dinner table, with my parents – it was a family situation. The game was this. There was a “bad word,” and the bad word was “stupid.” They would say, “Teresa, I bet you don’t know the bad word…” and I would say, “Yeah I do. “ Then they would say, “Well, yeah, do you?” And I’d say, “No, really, yeah! I know the bad word!” and they’d say “Yeah, then what is it?” and I would say, “I can’t say the bad word!!!” And they would go back and forth with this, and they thought it was pretty funny. And then of course because I was 5 and they were much older, they would finally say, “I don’t think you really know it because you didn’t say it. Unless you say the bad word I don’t think you know it.” So eventually I would give in and say, “The bad word is “stupid”! and then they would just go wild and shout, “OH MY GOD, YOU SAID THE BAD WORD!”
You know, as an adult looking back at this, I can see that it was meant to be funny. But it really, really hurt me – it makes me emotional thinking about it even now! I think it was because I felt like I was exposed, and I was pushed into a corner, and I wasn’t treated with kindness. So the vow I made of it – the meaning I put to it – was that I can’t let anyone see my weaknesses, because what happens when they do is that they make fun of me. So if I’m exposed, if I make myself vulnerable in a family situation, then it is not going to go well for me – I am going to be made fun of. The meaning I made was that I can’t trust other people, especially my family – in that particular case – that they’re not going to stand up for me. It happened in a family dinner situation, and my parents didn’t said anything about it – if anything, they just laughed along – it was all fun and games to them. They just said, “Oh, isn’t she cute!” because my brother and sister got me to say the bad word. But in reality it really hurt me, and the meaning I made of it was that I just can’t trust anyone. The vow I made was, “I’m not going to let myself be vulnerable; I’m going to be perfect; I’m not going to expose myself so that no one can make fun of me.” And like I said in the video, it really did help me in a number of ways for a long time – but as a result my relationship with my siblings was never very close. I don’t know that it was just because of that particular incident, but I felt like they weren’t there for me and that they wouldn’t support me if I was vulnerable. So there was a lot of woundedness from that in my first formation. If you think about it, I was used, made fun of, for enjoyment – for someone’s pleasure. That is how it made me feel.
Later I went into education, and it would drive me nuts when anyone was bullied. As a parent, I never let anyone tease, and we never teased our children. But what happened was that at the same time, I became very critical. Very black and white, good and bad – so that even though I did not make fun of people, I realize now that I was critical of my siblings and other people and that that was a way of protecting myself – but that it also in some ways was kind of like teasing. I would be critical of them and make fun of them behind their backs, thinking or saying things like, “Oh, they don’t know what they’re doing!” or “Look at how she dresses!” So that is the destructive impact this vow had in my life.
My second story kind of picks up from there. My sister and I are much older now, and she lives in California, so we don’t see each other very often at all. Looking back, I always distanced myself from her and really didn’t want to form a relationship with her. And everything she did I was critical of. She would over talk – she would talk all the time and take over the conversation – then I would feel like I had to correct her or interject. But what I am learning now is that instead of greeting her with opposition – because I have to protect myself from her and protect my kids and family and new life from her – I realized I can be open and just accept her as she is without trying to judge her or be critical of her. Recently her husband has been ill. He has cancer and has been in treatment, and as a result of that, God in His graciousness has allowed me to reach out to my sister as a sister – which is something I have not done before – and just ask her how she’s doing and not expect anything of her – not expect her to be my big sister or to respond in any particular way. And it has been so freeing to release the critical spirit. If she says something wacky that I don’t agree with, I can just let it go. I don’t have to engage; I don’t have to correct; I don’t have to show that I am better than she is – I can just be myself, and I can let her be herself. And as a result, she doesn’t over talk as much anymore, because she feels more comfortable and safe with me.
So that’s how redemption has worked in my relationship with my sister. I am able to engage with her now on a very different level, without the baggage of the old vow telling me that I have to protect myself – because, I’m going to be ok! I’ve even had a conversation with my kids about my relationship with her, acknowledging how critical I was of her and how I had made fun of her behind her back in front of my own kids – how we had rolled our eyes about their aunt. I’ve talked with them about that and explained that I wanted to protect them. They’re both adults now, so I was able to say, “You know, I realize now that I don’t have to protect you from her, and that you’re going to be fine. You can have whatever relationship you want with your aunt or not – that is your choice – but I don’t have to intervene; I don’t have to protect you from her.” God is good!
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As we celebrate 10 years of service this year, we are rejoicing in all the ways that Faithwalking has impacted lives across the globe. We love hearing the stories of transformation! To that end, we would love to hear yours! Please consider creating a short video sharing your Faithwalking transformation story, which you can send to us or post in our forum (use #myFWstory) so that it can be shared with others in the Faithwalking community. Below are some guidelines for creating your video. Thank you so much!
Suggestions for your video – #myFWstory:
- Tell us about your first formation
- Tell us how you have changed through FW OR tell us what have you learned about you, about God, about others
- Tell us why you would encourage others to take FW
Guidelines for creating your video:
- You can record the video on your own computer, using a video camera, or on your phone. We can also help by meeting you somewhere and recording you, if you are local. What you need is:
- To make sure you are in a quiet place and to speak loudly so we can hear your voice clearly
- To have the background you like
- To have good lighting so we can see you well
- To make sure your camera or phone is not moving or shaking
- Check out these short videos for useful guidelines for creating a video with your computer or with your phone.
- The video should be less than 10 minutes long. A video of 6-7 minutes would be great. You can upload the video to our forum or send it to us via Dropbox. We will take it from there.