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Letting Go Of Bitterness to Embrace God's Love

Shannon Woodland - 700 Club Producer
Danielle Thompson - 700 Club Producer

Patricia shares, “I wanted to make a difference for the people.  I hadn't even thought about making history ‘till people brought it to my attention!”

In 2017, Patricia, a North Carolina native, made history... Becoming the first African American elected to her town’s board of commissioners.  She says she wouldn’t have made it there without the support and prayers of her mom, Mamie.

Patricia says, “I have a love for her that I can't, I don't even, I just love her!  I wouldn't trade her for nothing in the world.  Nothing.” 

But for years, it was hate – not love – that defined her feelings towards her mom.  Patricia grew up in the 70’s, the oldest of three sisters.  They spent more time with other family than with their mother, who would often disappear, sometimes for weeks at a time.  Meanwhile, Patricia was singled out by a male relative who emotionally and sexually abused her.   

Patricia remembers “Being called fat, saying that I was ugly.  I was being fondled over, I was being talked down to, I was beaten.” 

Too afraid to speak up, Patricia would cry and beg her mom not to leave.

Patricia explains, “I'm pretty sure she felt that she was leaving us in good hands.  And my other two sisters, they was happy.  But they weren't going through what I was going through.” 

Though her family sometimes went to church, Patricia rejected the idea of a loving God.

She would wonder, “‘Do you care about me?  Where is this God that would protect me?’  ‘Cause I felt so rejected.  And I was like, ‘There has to be somebody that loves me.  Has to be.’”  

By the time she was 12, Patricia was able to avoid the relative’s abuse.  But it had already shredded her self-esteem.

She shares, “You start beating up on yourself in your mind.  I mean, you gotta think that you're ugly for somebody to touch you or for somebody to mistreat you.  You feel like you done something to deserve this.” 

She also blamed her mom.  Patricia says, “I felt that we were just left in the hands of a predator.  I had so much hate. Hate.” 

But Patricia didn’t realize her mom was dealing with demons of her own.  Mamie’s father left when she was 4.  

Mamie says, “I remember that well because it hurt me so bad.  And I said, well, if he was here, things would have been a lot better for me, you know.  I used to just blame him for that.  I really did.  And I hated him.” 

Mamie was in her 30s, when she found hope and healing in Jesus Christ.  She says, “I was just tired of the life I was living.  So I gave my life to the Lord, and things began to look a whole lot better for me.  ‘Cause I said, ‘Lord, I don't want my children to go through what I've been through.’”

Mamie started taking her daughters to church regularly.  Now in her mid-teens, Patricia still couldn’t accept what she heard.

She remembers, “I was told that if you want to make it to Heaven, in order to accept Jesus Christ in your heart, you have to walk in love.  If I have to love people, and I said especially my mom, I would rather go to Hell and die.” 

Even as Patricia carried that hatred towards her mom, she would share her same demons.  At 16 she was an unwed mother who was rarely home.  At 19, she married the father of her second baby, who turned out to be a violent, abusive man.

Patricia reveals, “I had 21 trips to the emergency room.  And I was in the court system 11 times.”
Hanging on to even the slightest hint of being loved, she stayed for seven years, despite her mother’s pleas.

Mamie remembers, “I'd just be praying and pouring out my heart to the Lord.  And fall on my knees and begin to cry sometime.  Didn't even have words, you know.”

One night when he was away, Patricia woke up in a panic.  She says it was then she heard a voice: “Get up, get your children, and get out of the house, now."  She continues, “I got my kids and I left.  Of course, I went to my mom's house.”

Shortly after, her husband came home in a rage and ransacked the house.  Patricia felt the voice she had heard was God’s. 

She then felt, “‘I believe it was You.  Okay, okay, I’m gonna give You a- You might be real.  You may exist, because my life was spared tonight.’” 

Patricia got a divorce, but still harbored a lifetime of hatred.  Now living with her mom, Patricia occasionally went to church.  One Sunday, something the pastor said got her attention. 

She explains, “The preacher was talking about how you had to forgive in order to be forgiven and all of that stuff.  I'm so busy trying to hate my mom for what she's done, but what about the things that I've done?  I believe it was the Lord speaking to me, He was letting me know, ‘But you never stop to think what maybe what she gone through as a child.’”  

She continues, “And it's like, now I'm getting it: we have to learn to forgive.  That day, I received Jesus Christ in my heart.”

Having accepted God’s love, Patricia was able to let go of her hatred and forgive her mom.  Today she and Mamie share an unbreakable bond.  

Patricia says, “It's like a love for her that I cannot explain.  Because if it was not for her prayers, I would not be where I am today.”

The healing in their family didn’t stop there – Mamie reconciled with her father and cared for him during the last two years of his life.  

She shares, “God mended that between me and him.  God did that. Wasn’t nobody but Him.”

Today, Patricia is happily married, and in addition to her work in government, she and her husband pastor a church.  She strives to tell everyone about the God who saved her from herself.

She says, “I know that the God that I hated, the God that I didn't know whether or not He existed, I know He exists, because He lives in me.  He’s changed me.”

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