Michelle Kennedy (4th from the right) has been on a journey in her relationship with her mom. She was led to the Lord by her mom at the age of three. Her mom taught her about the forgiveness of Jesus and ingrained in her the importance of forgiving others. But during Michelle's middle school years, her mom was tormented by something personal and took it out on her daughter time and again. Those years were horrible and painful, full of hate and even physical altercations, until one night, Michelle's mom begged for forgiveness. The very person who had taught Michelle to extend forgiveness to others, was desperately seeking it from her. It was hard, but she made the decision to forgive. Michelle says, "People think that forgiveness means condoning what someone has done to you, or saying the actions were okay, but that's not it. It's obeying Christ and receiving he freedom from the bitterness and rage that results from not forgiving. Forgiveness is beautiful and comes out of strength, not weakness." Amazingly, Michelle also says, "I don't hate the experience of those years, because it taught me the power of forgiveness."
Since that night, both Michelle and her mom have been transformed. Her mom has also been set free of what had tormented her. With tears in her eyes, Michelle says that today they are best friends. Now she has two children of her own and is teaching them about the power of forgiveness, passing this truth down to the next generation.
Michelle recently attended the Rooted 10-week Discipleship Experience and shared her story with her group. One of the rhythms of Rooted is sharing life stories. As a result of hearing Michelle's story, one of the members of her group was able to forgive her own mother from past pain. Michelle's husband also attended Rooted with her, and the things he contributed to the group impacted her tremendously and were so helpful to others in the group as well. She says, "Often people are reluctant to attend a group of Bible study because they don't think they will get anything out of it, but she says that attending Rooted isn't just about getting something for yourself, it's about what you have to offer. Others need to hear what God has done in your life." She says that it's so interesting how you naturally judge that group of 10-12 people initially. You assume they have it all together or wonder why they do things the way they do, but then you hear their stories and it changes your perception. The depth and vulnerability and honesty are so needed. We can learn from everybody.