Living beyond the limits of your past — Part I. You are designed for your story
It’s not the sufferings in my story that should never have happened, but the healing.
Your story is designed for you and you are designed for your story.
“God is not merely the Creator of our life. He is also the Author of our life, and he writes each person’s life to reveal his divine story… In our story God shows us what he’s up to and what he wants us to be about.”
— Dr. Dan Allender
Stories inspire us. Good stories educate us. Godly stories change us. We all live through stories that should never have happened. The roads of such stories are paved with sufferings leading either to great tragedies or to glorious victories. We are curious to learn such stories, because they are impacting us. How the main-character of the story overcomes her pain and sufferings makes any story inspirational. We laugh at comedies, but we are shaped by the tragedies. These stories give us the hope that the impossible indeed is possible, and we want to know how. The pain, the challenges, the sufferings, the troubles of others and how they overcome or loose in that battle is what draws us to a story. Living in a broken world plants a desire in us to know how to overcome the pain in our life. We were meant to live in a perfect world. We were not created to cope with the pain. Reading, watching, hearing and sharing those stories of sufferings soften our hearts, focus our priorities, give us hope, inspire us to act, teach us skills, bear the fruit of gratefulness, generally they help us to become a better person.
We all have a unique story. God is the Grand Designer of our unique story. His design makes us laugh, triggers tears, forces us on our knees, takes us to our limits, teaches us something about the Author, draws us closer to him and if it’s told well then it blesses others. Our story is part of His Story that He wants to tell through the history of mankind. Each and every story is unique. Each and every one is designed. The design involves unchangeable circumstances, carefully crafted gifts, special encounters, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and our freedom of choice.
The two kinds of basic stories are the epic and the drama. In the epic the main-character saves (something or someone), in the drama the main-character suffers (from something or from someone).
As we live our stories we enjoy the chapters when we feel that we control the flow of the story. But the story starts becoming really interesting when we start loosing control over our story. We naturally withdraw from things we don’t have control over. Loosing control comes with uncertainty. Uncertainty generates fear. When things happen you don’t understand then you start loosing control over your reality. At that point, suddenly a gap is created between your understanding and your reality. Hope needs to fill that gap, the hope that things are going to get better. Without that hope we can’t move forward in our story. Hope only can born out of trust. Trusting that by someone or by something the reality (which is now far from our understanding) eventually will be under control again and that we will gain understanding over it. Trusting requires to turn over the control to someone or something and admitting that someone or something has a greater power to gain control over our reality than us.
That’s why God is doing things in our lives that doesn’t make sense to us. Loosing control over certain areas of our life is taking us back to the root of our hope. Our limited capacity to understand should never limit God’s will and plan for our life.
The story you’re going to read will remind you of how the things you don’t understand, the pains you experience, the control you loose, the impossible you face — are all tools for God to use so you would get to know him in ways you’ve never imagined and you would have to see him doing things through you that’s way beyond of your wildest dreams. This will only happen if you love the God you know more than fear the things you don’t know.
I’m sharing my story with the hope that you’ll see that the impossible is just another option if your story is lived with the One who is in the business of doing the impossible. My hope and prayer is that you’ll discover in your own story that the loving hand of God crafted your story for you and He made you in such a unique way that you would perfectly fit to your story.
If you feel that you are the victim of your circumstances then this story will motivate you to overcome your circumstances and start making steps toward gaining control over your life.
If you feel that you are the victim of other people’s selfishness and evilness then this story might help you find the path of healing for your painful traumas.
If you feel that you can’t overcome your fear, disbelief, poor self-image and you are sinking in the bottomless ocean of self-pity, then this story will prove that love overcomes fear, faith overcomes disbelief and God’s acceptance heals your wounds and builds up your poor self-image.
Our story never starts with our story
“I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
— Exodus 20:5–6
Like it or not, we are born into other people’s story. Our story is a sequel of the story of our ancestors. We are born into their dysfunctions, problems and sickness. The sins of our ancestors leave marks on us, just as their virtue does. Of course we aren’t determined to guide our story in the direction it was set by them. But we can’t ignore the impact that their story has on ours.
My personal story is flowing out of our family-story which is woven into the tragic history of our nation’s past 90 years. Fascism and communism left their deep and cruel marks not just on Hungary as a nation, but on our family, too. The tragic signs of the Jewish persecution started to show up in the early 1930’s. My great-grandfather — in order to be able to progress in his business — changed his name leaving behind the immediately recognizable Jewish name, Swartz and picking up the Hungarian-sounding Szemere. My grandmother — in order to have a future — left her Jewish background and got “baptized into” the Lutheran church. Her Jewish father being a wealthy businessman wanted to provide education and a hopeful future for her regardless of the growing anti-Semitism. Even if the only way to achieve that meant to leave their Jewish background and to “become officially Christian” as a baptized member of one of the state churches. Soon it turned out that this attempt was not adequate either. Jews had been deported regardless of their attempt to assimilate. At the peak of the war 5 siblings of my great-grandfather had been deported from the countryside and murdered in Auschwitz. We don’t know their names and they don’t have a grave.
The horror of the war touched our family in many other ways, too. My grandmother had been raped by a dozen Russian soldiers witnessed by my mother who was only 5 at that time. The horror of that memory burned in to her brain. Being a Jew at that time meant that my great-grandfather lost everything: houses, businesses, money, siblings, parents, job and on top of that her daughter being brutally raped. He was the survivor of his family. It’s more than anyone can absorb. These losses came with excruciating pain which he never talked about. Instead, the bottle became his painkiller and eventually his killer.
After the Nazis were defeated, the Soviet Army took control over the country. My father’s side of the family being a part of the nobility since 1200’s and giving many top leaders of the army were viewed by the communist as an enemy. (Between 1867–1945 our family gave the most number of Generals for the Hungarian army. There were times when out of the 5 Generals in the Army, 4 were from my father’s family and one was the General Secretary of War.)
At the end of the war my great-uncle (a former army General) was taken to the Soviet Gulags and was kept captive for 11 years in Siberia. Very few have survived the brutal circumstances in those camps. He was among that few. One day in 1956 he just showed up at the doorstep of his wife’s tiny apartment. She was waiting for him faithfully not knowing if he was alive or not.
1950’s were very dark times of the newly established communist regime as it reached the peak of its brutality. My grandfather, grandmother and father had been deported at the beginning of that decade. If the communist government wanted your apartment or they thought that you are the enemy of their system, than one simple way to isolate or punish you was deportation. They sent a 24 hour notice to leave your home, all your belongings and you could carry only one suitcase with you to the small village the government assigned you to live in. Your home, your wealth, your belongings, your job was given to someone the communists favored. You couldn’t appeal and you were not allowed to leave the village you were deported to. That’s what happened to my father’s family. They had been deported from Budapest to a small village where my grandfather had to do hard physical labor. Soon, he got a stroke. Loosing all their wealth, becoming an outcast of the society, not having a future naturally led him to loose his health. Eventually the stroke he suffered took his life.
The only descendant of a once wealthy Jewish family (my mother) and the only descendant of a once noble family (my father) fell in love with each other in 1954. That marriage could never have happened if the war and communism would not have made both families equally poor by loosing everything they ever had for centuries.
The 1956 Revolution found my parents in their late teenage years. My mother’s uncle had been shot by the communist a year earlier and had been buried in an unmarked grave. He was only 24. The communist were so cruel that they’ve sent his coat to his mother, he wore during his execution. The coat was full of bullet holes. During the Revolution all the boys in my mother’s high school class were killed by the Soviet’s who quenched the revolt. My parents as young and adventurous lovers wanted to escape from the country with the promise of a free life. A young, 19 year old soldier helped them passing through the borders in the ambush of the woods. They got caught. This young soldier had been shot immediately by the Soviet soldier and my parents were imprisoned. Quenching the revolution disrupted our family: some family members were able to escape from the country and we never saw them again.
The horror of the war, fascism and communism left a lasting mark on my wife’s family as well. Her father’s parents buried two little babies because they starved to death, there was no food to feed them. Her mother’s father was giving Bibles to Russian soldiers in the ’70s which led him to be persecuted and he lost his license to be a Baptist minister. He had to work as an unskilled factory worker for the rest of his life with his ThM degree from a well-known seminary from Germany. He has not been rehabilitated as a pastor even until now.
The family history of losses is endless and continuous — even up to this day. You can’t recover from being so badly and continuously abandoned by your own country, especially if the society is not willing to face her own sins and problems; and its leaders are successfully abusing the whole society over generations.
The pain caused by history was multiplied by the pain caused by the members of my family. Betrayal, cheating, alcoholism, sexual, physical and verbal abuse, abortions and occultism were present as an everyday practice in both sides of my family.
My story enters into the brokenness of this family. My parents already went through a divorce from each other and tried to rebuild their broken marriage. They got married again in 1966. I came as an unplanned surprise and they had one plan with me: abortion. My sister was 4 years old at that time and my parents were without a home. But a friend of my mom who is still unknown to me convinced her to keep this pregnancy.
I was born — unwanted. This word prophetically shadowed my childhood.
To be continued with Part II: “Painful endings” .