Forgiving is HARD. When we are young we are almost always forced to apologize before we are ready. Do you remember arguing with someone and then hearing them say “I’m sorry,” and then yelling back, “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it!” or “I don’t want you to say it because I’m making you.” I do. I remember saying it way too often. (in fact I still do it). While it’s hard to say “I’m Sorry,” it’s probably harder to say “It’s okay. I forgive you.” Why is that? Probably because we have been so hurt and shaken to our core, that to forgive would be like losing. But are we losing when we forgive? What kind of contest are we competing in?
I’ve had “daddy issues” for most of my life. My father was not present in my life growing up, whether by choice or circumstance. For years, I grew up unfazed by the fact that I did not have a dad. When friends would ask about my father, I would answer rather nonchalantly “I don’t know, he’s not around, in fact I don’t even know who he is.” Deep down, it bothered me that he was not there. There came a point in my life where I was growing older, and I had questions, with the biggest being “WHO? Who is my father?” As my mother and I were going through pictures, she randomly pointed out a man, I knew to just be my uncle, and said “That’s your dad.” At first I was blindsided, was she for real? How did she know? A rush of emotions and thoughts flooded my brain! I couldn’t think, I didn’t want to think. For so long, I had been lied to by my mother, my father, MY FAMILY! How and why did this happen to me? I had every reason to be angry at my mother, my family, my father, and even God. If God loved me, why would he put me in a situation to not be loved by someone who should ultimately love me unconditionally? Was I unloveable?
Of course the answer to that question is no, but to be young and vulnerable is a tumultuous time in one’s life. I think there is a story in the Gospel of Mark called Jesus Curses a Fig Tree that sums up what I am trying to tell you.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11: 22-26
All through out the bible there are stories of forgiveness of each other and forgiveness from God for our sins. By definition, forgiving is an emotional release of someone who has harmed you in someway. Letting go of all negative feelings, and that is easier said than done. Jesus’ teachings say to “Never pay bay evil with more evil…Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing GOOD.” Romans 12:17-21 Do you see where I’m going with all of this? Love thy neighbor. God loves us so much that he says time after time, throughout the ENTIRE bible, beginning to end, do not worry, live in love, I (he) will take care of the rest. All you have to worry about is living in love.
To be forgiven, we must first forgive, and we must truly, whole heartedly believe that we are ready to forgive and let go of ANY and ALL negativity that has taken a hold on our lives. We must forgive to a point where we can be able to walk away and say “Thank you”. We are not saints, we make choices we regret, we make mistakes and that’s okay, we are human! Throughout my life, I’m positive I have not always been kind or nice. I have said and done things that I am truly sorry for. I have also been faced with a plethora of situations where someone has chosen to directly or indirectly be hurtful to me. In those situations that I have been faced with, I have not always chosen to act with the grace. I have had multiple reasons to be angry or mad, or to hold a grudge.
It was only after I made the conscious decision to forgive those who had hurt me, and let go of all the negative emotions and feelings I was harboring that I realized my life, with every tiny flaw, was an abundance of blessings. I was blessed with people who were only trying to protect me. I was blessed with valuable lessons. And you know what, In this situation with my “daddy issues”, I was blessed with 4 fathers! My Grandfather, my Uncle, my Dad, and God. My God loved me SO MUCH that he gave me 4 dads! I forgave/thanked my family for trying to protect me, I forgave/thanked my father for being able to get the courage to reach out and let him into my life, he is here now and choosing to make an effort and THAT is what should matter to me. Lastly, I FORGAVE and THANKED God for teaching me this valuable lesson. Even if it hasn’t always felt that way, my life has by no means been hard, in fact it was quite the opposite. While I grew up in a single parent home, I was no less loved. I was just too blinded by my anger to realize that. For 28 years I have been loved beyond belief, by my mother, my family, and my friends, but most importantly, I have been loved by God.
You see, what are we gaining by holding onto that anger or hate? Nothing. we push away those who love us and want to love us. We push away the love that is right in front of us. We push away the happiness that INSTEAD could consume us. All around, when we choose to live in anger and hate, that is when we are losing. I realize that it is not easy to forgive, you need time to digest the situation, you need time to adjust and think. I know I’ve been there. It may not be today, tomorrow, months or years from now, but If I had continued to believe and live in that anger, I truly believe that It would have quite literally, eaten me alive and it will do it to you too! Instead of living in anger and hate, I chose to forgive, now the question is will you?