On forgiveness…

Task one: housekeeping.  I am going to be honest here – I started this blog for self-affirmation.  I started when I was in a transitional period in my life, and I needed something to make me feel good.  Almost a year later, I am at a different place and the blog has morphed into something else.  Our church talks a lot about doing things to glorify God – and not yourself.  I feel as if this blog has morped into that.  I am not saying “Listen to me because I have all of the answers from God” because I DO NOT.  I am not saying “I know how to do everything – follow me!” because in the context of an entire life I know very little.  What I am trying to say, is that lately I feel called/forced to write about topics that do not really benefit me.  I feel a different urge to write about topics that can help other people.  I feel like what I am supposed to write about is topics where I have struggled and/or failed, and the lesson I learned.

Task two: blog.

This is about to get real personal.  If you don’t like heavy topics click to something else (click here for happy kittens).  It will also end on a positive note.  So – heavy then positive.

Perhaps the greatest failure in my first marriage (I’m divorced and now remarried) is that I was not very forgiving.  My ex-husband would fail me in some way, and I would not forgive him.  This led to anger and resentment – and obviously – a marriage that did not work.  In my defense, the marriage needed to end (more on that some other day).

Ok – deeper story.

When I was about six years old, I was molested by my babysitters.  The babysitters were about twelve and ten.  Eventually, my parents found out.  The police were involved.  The court system was involved.  Lots of counseling was involved.  Our entire family was hurt.

For years I was embarrassed by the event.  I felt like it was my fault.  I felt sad.  I also felt a lot of anger towards the babysitters.  When I was sixteen years-old I was sitting in a counselor’s office telling her about the event.  The counselor said to me “I would bet anything that those girls were being molested in their own home – probably by their mother or father.”

That day, I began to forgive the people that had molested me.  There are lots of terrible things in this world.  Being molested by your babysitters is a terrible thing.  However, I can imagine very few things that are worse than being molested by your parents.  That day, I saw that the people that hurt me did so because they had been hurt too.  That day, I realized that the people that hurt the most people……… are usually the ones that have been hurt the most by others.

Forgiving others does not mean that we condone their behavior or continue to endure it.  It means that we choose to let go of the pain a certain behavior has had on our lives.

When I scroll through Facebook or when I talk to people I know, I hear from lots of people that have been hurt.  I know they have been hurt, because they write about being angry and post pictures about how they will never trust anyone.  I know they are feeling pain because they tell me they are bitter and angry.  I listen to this pain, and I literally cry.  I cry because I imagine that the pain they are feeling is crushing their lives.

For years, I held onto the painful things my ex-husband did to me.  Lately, I have started to forgive and let that go.  I let it go, because if I do not it will kill me.  It will turn me into someone who is angry and bitter.  It will kill my new marriage.

The Bible tells us that we are to treat others as we want to be treated.  If I never err or fail, than I never need to forgive.  However, I am human and I mess up A LOT.  If I am ever going to have any type of enduring relationship I will need to be forgiving, so that the other person can (hopefully) forgive me when I fail (which I will).

The Bible also tells us that we do not forgive others – we will not be forgiven by God.  I am not saying “Forgive others or you don’t get the ticket to heaven,” because I don’t think that is what that passage is saying.  I am saying that if you do not forgive others you will never have an understanding of Grace, and what it is like to be forgiven.  And if you never know Grace… well… then what is the point?

I cannot make someone else forgive what another person has done to them.  But I can promise you that if you do not practice the act of forgiveness, it kills you from the inside out.  When we hold onto pain, it crushes us.  When we choose to feel pain instead of forgive, it kills us from the inside out.

For me, forgiveness also takes time.  When I was sixteen, I started forgiving the people that molested me.  But to this day, I continue to say to myself “God, I forgive them.  God, help me forgive them.”  But a lot of the pain has passed, and now I wish the girls and their family well.  I hope they are happy.  I hope they find love and peace.

I have started to forgive my ex-husband.  He hurt me terribly.  But if I want to move on in my life, I have to let go.  So I pray “God, help me be forgiving.  Help me let go of this pain.”  The pain has started to pass.  I wish my ex-husband well.  I hope he is happy.

And I pray, God – let me see where I am holding onto pain.  Let me see where I have not been forgiving.  Help me to let go of the things that bind me – so I can move forward.  So I can live.

It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes LOTS of effort.  But, for me, it has been worth it.  There are still days I struggle with what happened to me when I was a child.  There are movies I can never watch and news stories that shut me down.  There are days I cannot stop crying, and days where my husband cannot touch me.  But if I can forgive people the hurt me so deeply – I can forgive anything…………. and you can too.

One thought on “On forgiveness…

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