Soul Food, Spiritual

Forgiveness- The Real Deal

If I heard that he was seriously injured, I would have said that it was the justice of God.  I didn’t have the guts to do to him what I thought he deserved, but to hear his name brought bile so bitter to my mouth that I could not describe and to see him appear in the same room as me, breathing the same air sent me walking in the opposite direction.  I couldn’t stand him!  I wanted him, needed him to acknowledge what he did, but it didn’t look like he was about to anytime soon.  So the fire kept burning; in my heart, my eyes, my mind.  It was in my every thought and I couldn’t shake it.  It had a hold of me and to be honest, at some point I felt secure in its grip… 

Amidst all my complexes and insecurities, I had begun to accept the fact that I would probably never find that guy who would be madly in love with me (me? Come on now! – I’m sure you remember this part of my story).  I was getting used to my day dreams of love life being just that.  This was my life and was just about holding my front together when…  One of my ‘day dreams’ asked me out!  !!  He approached me in front of my friends, pastors and family in the perfect place; our church.  I was beaming.  That glimmer of suppressed hope started to burn.  He sat me down and explained that we were going to pray and ask God’s guidance, but I was his.  His spiritual maturity amazed me and I thought that God was blessing me.  After one week of “praying” he revealed that he loved me and this feeling in my heart had never been there before; surely it was love?  I told him I loved him too.  It was then, the flood gates of my heart opened. 

I was thinking of marriage, babies and much more.  I dreamed of the moment he would take me in his arms and kiss me and protect me.  I had someone.  The complexes I had were lies!  He talked of great things and some things he said I wasn’t sure of morally, but what did I know?  But the hugs never came, the kiss never came.  He never took me out and he put me down, but I stayed.  He got me to reveal personal and intimate details about myself and it was like he was ashamed of me in public, but still I stayed.  I found out that he cheated on me from his own mouth, but backed into a corner he still managed to get me to agree to stay with him  and I agreed to keep his dirty little secret (we couldn’t destroy his image at church now…).  I cried that night for the first time over a boy.  It was a heart wrenching cry that came from a pain that I never thought would stop.  It hurt.  A lot.  It was almost debilitating but because of my promise to him, I cried alone.  Then I dried my tears and acted like nothing was wrong. I stayed.   

Those who know me will be shocked reading this (thank God for transformation) but I stayed and I understand women who do.  You see, I spent my few years in life guarding my heart and not letting people in far enough to hurt or reject me.  It was a hard act to keep up but I thought I was managing and then here comes this lovely Christian friend who now felt the same way as me.  I wanted to uphold my distance but somehow he got into my heart and I began to feel for him.  He built up pictures of the future I was too scared to want but now I needed.  He broke through the issues that I always had with myself; that I was ugly and that nobody wanted me.  I needed him to be true, because if not, I wasn’t sure that my heart could take the emotional catastrophe.  Up until this point, my issues had been very real, but not had any real concrete base.  If he rejected me, then it would be proof that they were true.  So I clung to the good times… 

Eventually, he just stopped calling.  I couldn’t figure out why so I kept trying to get hold of him to no avail.  Eventually, my sister got hold of him and he basically told her that we were over and he thought that I knew that, he thought I got the message.  There was the knife in my heart.  I felt like I could fall to pieces and then there it came.  First, a great dislike for him, then…hate.  I couldn’t stand him and I wanted him to hurt the way I did.  I gave him what I had never given to anyone; myself.  I was afraid but I did it anyway and he trashed it.  He trashed it and didn’t think twice about it.  All the while that he seemed to keep me at arms length (which I thought was some kind of holy thing for us not to ‘fall into temptation.’) I found out that he had been sleeping around.  I was his Christian disguise.  I hated him for hurting me, I hated him for cheating, and I hated him for not trying to sleep with me!  Yes I admit it!  If he had tried to sleep with me at least I would have felt attractive.  Fuel for this hate came with every passing thought and it worsened when I saw him because he seemed to be getting on fine.  It’s like I didn’t even matter.  I wanted him to know that I hated him, but the annoying thing was that he didn’t seem to get it.  It’s like he had forgotten all that had happened and he was ready to be friends.   

Forgiveness was a word I learned in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ and not much more.  I forgave friends and family when we had disagreements, but this was on another level and he didn’t deserve it.  I went back to my ‘hard as nails’ way of surviving and lived on the edge of falling apart.  I didn’t speak about it and I didn’t pray about it.  If I could feel hate, I was feeling something and I was alive.  The possibility of allowing myself to start feeling like I did when I first cried over him was like falling into a black hole knowing that you would only keep falling and falling.  I couldn’t even contemplate that.  I didn’t have the strength to deal with it, but this grudge seemed to give me the strength to remain standing and carry on as normal.  However, the opposite was true.  All the while I fed this grudge I didn’t seem to get the fact that the only person that I was hurting was me.  Even though I was temporarily satisfied by thoughts of really bad things happening to him, I was the one suffering, reliving events and hurting all over again.  I also at this time was seeking to know God for myself, but my heart was so full of this grudge that I felt like my prayers were not making it passed the ceiling.  I truly felt alone, and although the image I was trying to uphold was that I didn’t need anyone, underneath I needed help, but he didn’t deserve my forgiveness.  Did he?   

Forgiveness is always the right thing and it’s easy to tell people to forgive.  It was something I learned theoretically and even judged people for not doing until this situation.  I want to expose to you the truth about forgiveness.  In the midst of hurt, pain and grudges it is completely alien, unnatural and frustrating. 

I’m writing this because many times you look around and the people you hear talking about forgiveness tell you that they forgave.  You don’t often hear about the process of forgiveness.  At this time in my life I heard mainly two things from those around me.  At church I heard things like ‘My sister and I used to hate each other, but when I came to God I was able to forgive her and now our relationship is great.’ Errr… okay.  Outside I heard (imagine the east London accent) ‘Well yeah… when my ex cheated on me I got mah bruvva to beat him up.  Serves him right.  He doesn’t even look my way now.’  I liked the sound of the second one, but I knew it was wrong and the other didn’t help at all because it didn’t give me the how to guide.  It only served to make me feel like such a sinner for having such dark feelings.  I told myself that I would forgive him many times, but the slightest thing would remind me of everything he did and I was back to square one. 

I was eventually able to forgive him. I clambered through that loooooong and dark tunnel that in due course did lead to freedom.  I felt my way through that journey literally by faith alone.  I’m going to leave with you the hits and tips that I discovered along the way that I hope will make the journey plain (it’s never easy) for you.  I know you’ve probably heard and read a lot about forgiveness, but I want to leave with you the reality, the ‘real deal’ of it all.  It’s easily read, but it can take all your strength and effort to practise. 

  1. Forgiveness is a decision.   You really need to understand this.  It has nothing to do with how you feel.  If you wait to feel ready to forgive someone or for your ‘heart in the right place’, believe me, it will NEVER happen.  Your feelings will follow your decision. 
  1. Forgiveness is more about you than the other person/ people involved.  If YOU don’t forgive then YOU can’t move on and YOU will be unhappy.  Initially, this is what motivated me to start the process of forgiving him.  I thought of me.  I know it sounds selfish, but it stopped me constantly thinking about how much he didn’t deserve it. 
  1. Become an expert in controlling your thoughts.  Not all the thoughts that enter your head should you leave there.  Especially that one about scratching his eyes out or shredding his clothes…  If you entertain the negative thoughts, you will never b 
  1. Pray for him/her/them.  This hurts!!  A lot to start with.  Whether you believe in God or not I think we can agree that a prayer is something of very good and pure intent.  Why should we do good to those who do us evil? That’s what you think in the beginning, but if you persevere in good thoughts towards them and asking God to bless them, the hurt and torrent of evil thoughts will subside.  It doesn’t seem like it at first, but trust me.  It works. 
  1. Start to work on re-building yourself. Through all of this I asked God to give me strength because it was one of the hardest things I had ever done and I honestly can say that without His strength I couldn’t have done it.  I started to look within and I realised my part in my hurt.  I was naïve in love.  I put my boyfriend in a position that he never should have been in to hurt me as a result of my complexes and insecurities.  I had to work on that so I would never be so deceived again. 

I ended up feeling sorry (Yep.  It’s true!) for my ex-boyfriend because now he had a child and he lost his reputation.  Everybody found out about his scandals and he was ashamed.  Whereas I started on my new journey towards becoming a transformed young lady who knew what to look for now when it came to my love life.  I was also equipped to forgive for life. 

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