T. Suzanne Eller is the author of five books and over 600 articles and columns. She is a contributing writer to Today’s Christian Woman and cbn.com and Enrichment Journal. She is a youth culture and parenting columnist, and a community mentor in The Woman of Vision program.
Suzanne has been featured on hundreds of radio and TV programs such as MidDay Connection, Focus on the Family, Aspiring Women, At Home Live, KLOVE, Deeper Shopping, PrimeTime America, FamilyLife. Harvest Show and many more, sharing her heart on relevant faith, parenting, teen issues, and overcoming a painful past.
She is the founder of Real Teen Faith, a ministry that reaches youth around the nation through resources, books, a popular blog, speaking, discipleship. Check out the Real Teen Faith blog where Suzie and teens talk about faith, life, cultural issues, real quotes, and lots more.
Suzie is the Friday blogger at Boomer Babes Rock, talking about fun, fashion, faith, food, and family with authors and friends, including BBR founder Allison Bottke (God Allows U-Turns). Join Suzie, Allison, Eva Marie Everson, Dotsie Bregel, and Keri Wyatt Kent.
This book isn’t the typical lighthearted motherhood book. What sets your book apart, and how does it explore territory seldom covered in books designed for mothers?
It’s definitely not a fluffy book! This is the book I didn’t want to write. I’ve taught “Pushing Past Your Past” for the past five years at parenting conferences. At one, I was approached by the director and also by their publisher and asked to consider writing a book for women. I hesitated because it’s one thing to share my childhood experiences, and what God has done in a workshop or keynote, but another to publish it and put it in the hands of women across the nation. If it helped many women, but destroyed my mother (by telling our story) it wasn’t worth it.
And yet she encouraged me to write it. I invited her to join me, to share her story and to show how generations of dysfunction can continue if there is not healing, as well as practical helps and tools. I believe she added depth and wisdom, and it has ministered to many women, whether they were the victim of abuse or neglect, or the ones who are trapped in dysfunctional parenting methods and want help.
The Mom I Want to Be addresses the past, the present, and the future. It shows how to learn from the harm of your past, how to let go, how to forgive, how to trust again, and how to view the world from an adult’s perspective, rather than that of the once-harmed child. It shares very practical steps on how to shape your children’s memories now rather than focusing on the memories of your past, how to set boundaries for parents or people who are still dysfunctional, how to parent with resources and healthful parenting methods as opposed to familiar patterns from the past, and much more. It offers a lot of interactive study and questions and encouragement, as well as a 12-week small group study for women who want to take this to their church or friends or MOPS groups, etc.
It’s still the book I didn’t want to write, but I’m so glad I did.
Why did you feel the need to address these issues?
The first time I shared my “Pushing Past the Past” workshop I looked out over the crowd. They looked like women who had it all together. And yet as I spoke, I could see the defenses lowering and we connected as women with a painful past. After that first workshop, women lined up down the aisle, out the door, and around the corner, all who wanted to share a little bit of their story, or to ask questions, or to request prayer, or just to hug me and cry as they said, “you just told my story.”
Did you find this book required an extra dose of raw transparency on your part?
It’s so raw. But it’s just as raw about God’s amazing grace and transformation in my heart and for my family as it is about the hard times.
Did this affect any of your own relationships?
In good ways. My brother read this book and I’ll never forget his words: “I’ve read other books and wondered if they understood what I went through. As I read my own sister’s book, I knew that not only did you understand, but I know how whole you are. I knew that I was reading truth that could change me.” That was worth the pain of writing the book–a thousand times over.
It also affected my mom’s and my relationship. At this time, we were close and had been for a long time. But I learned about things that she had never told anyone–that she was molested at five, the insecurities she had when she was a suicidal mom and crying for help and no one was listening. It added a deeper level of compassion for the person who is my mom.
One of the issues you mention in the book is forgiveness. What’s the hardest part of forgiveness to get right that’s also the element that causes the biggest victories?
To let go. A lot of times we hold on to unforgiveness, waiting for someone to change, or someone to say they are sorry. Maybe they will one day, but maybe they won’t. I want to be whole today, for my children and me. I let go because it cuts the tendrils of the past that keep me from growing. It starts the process of removing bitterness or rage or sorrow from my heart and mind.
I want to fly, and if letting go is part of that I’m willing to let go.
How can a mother let go of her past in order to give her children a better present and future?
First, go back and take a good look at what harmed you. Put it all out on the table. Learn from it. I didn’t know my biological dad as a father, but I still learned from him. He was absent, so I learned the joy of being at my kid’s ball games or feeling the soft touch of a baby’s hand on my cheek. I was fully in the moment when my children walked down the aisle (my children are all newlyweds) and married their spouses.
My biological father chose not to be a part of my life, and I can’t change that, but I’m willing to learn from his mistakes and do better with my own children.
Second, many women have faced things that are so grievous. Letting go doesn’t make those injustices right or okay. It simply says, “I won’t let the past continue to burden me or harm my relationships with my children or spouse.” If you were neglected, abused sexually or physically or emotionally, you may find it difficult to let go. I did. But I was willing, and that was the first step. I invited God into the process. It took time. Healing is often a life-time journey. I would encourage women to seek counseling if they need help during that time, but also to open their minds to the possibility of what God can do with a willing heart.
1. During this blog tour, any reader who responds to Twila Belk at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of a church or organization that is interested in having Suzie in as a guest speaker, will receive all three of Suzie’s books (up to 10 sets will be given away on a first come first serve basis).
2. If any of your readers contact Twila regarding a Bible study group or book club wanting to use Suzie’s materials, their groups will receive conference calls from Suzie to kick off or conclude their studies.
3. All readers who post a comment regarding Suzie’s books will be placed in a grand prize drawing on August 2, 2008, for a delightful gift basket:
Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know
The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future
Real Teens, Real Stories, Real Life
Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway?
The Woman I Am Becoming: Embrace the Chase for Identity, Faith and Destiny
and. . .
A sleek coffee cup filled with Dove Caramel chocolates
A tootsie roll bouquet
A Dove Almond Chocolate bar