When I was five years old, my mother pulled me onto her lap and said to me, “When you were still in my tummy, God told me that you were going to be special!” She mentioned this again, just to me, when I was about seven.
My mother didn't mean “special” in the way that all children are special--this was unique, one-of-a-kind messiah special. I don’t remember her saying this to anyone else, this was a secret between my mother and me. It was the first lifeshock that I can recall.
Most of my life, I held the opinion that what my mother said to me just gave me a good self-image, that it gave me the confidence to believe I had the ability to do whatever I wanted to. That changed when I attended the More To Life Weekend. In the opening session on Friday night, I recalled those words of my mother. I don’t remember what caused me to recall that experience then, but my entire interpretation of those words shifted that night.
I went back to that moment when my mother told me I was “special” and realized that in the moment, I did not believe her. I was not special in that way—and I wanted to prove it. By the second time she told me what she believed God had told her, I began to act out to show anyone who might be watching that I was anything but special.
By second grade, I was the class clown in the private school I attended. I gained a reputation among my teachers as someone who “just didn’t apply himself.” I tested any form of authority. In ninth grade, I was suspended for fighting (although the other guy was a bully), and began secretly smoking and skipping class.
“We think Billy would be better off attending a public school,” the principal told my mother at the end of the school year.
It was about this point in my life that the effect on me caused by my mother's belief in my specialness took on another form. Without consciously realizing it, I began judging other people harshly. The internal process was something along the lines of: “If I’m not special, you sure as heck are not special!”
My judgmental attitude carried over into my adult life, in my marriage, with my children and in my faith community. Fortunately, all of this behavior came to a crescendo in my early thirties, and I was able to make some fundamental choices that brought fairly seismic change. What I did not gain in that earlier healing was what had been the anchor point for my choices of resistance and distancing.
All of this insight was a part of my MTL weekend experience. In that weekend, I finally got over it by letting go. First, I had to let of go of the forehead-slapping judgment, “Why have I not seen this before?” And then, I let go of judging my mother.
The final piece in this process was to let go of judging myself. I didn’t have to be special any more than I had to be perfect. It was enough to be me! By letting go, I discovered I had space for something else ... me ... and others too. By letting go, I got over it!