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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why I forgive

A lot of us are hypocrites. We don’t say what we really mean and we hardly mean what we say. It would be unfair to heap the blame on ourselves and forget the fact that most of us were brought up in houses where silence was the name of the game. Where the family name and honor was protected above integrity and honesty. Where pain wasn't discussed and fears were treated like bouts of cowardice. Where we saw our parents laugh with visitors and spit at their retreating backs. No…it would be unfair to blame ourselves for our inability to tell the truth to others and to ourselves. But it would be stupid to blame everything on our upbringing too. Whether we came from that kind of background or not, the fact remains that our choices are ours alone and ultimately, we decide if we will carry on the tradition of hypocrisy or not. I've never been one to hide my feelings even though for a long time I was nearly beaten into doing just that. At eight I was a feisty little child with my own mind. At eight I told my father he was a devil for beating up my mother. At nine I told him he was the wrong man for her. At ten I told him he didn't deserve to be a father to the wonderful children he had. Was I right? No….far from it. In my ignorance, I spoke up and in my innocence I expected change when I did. The change didn’t come for a long time, at least not for the situation I spoke vehemently against but It came for me…I changed. I realized that speaking the truth wasn’t the same thing as condemning a person or a situation. The truth sets you free.
It convicts you. It doesn't make you feel like the weight of the world just landed without courtesy on your shoulders nor does it make you feel like you will never get things right. I don’t know how I made my father feel with my outspoken condemnation of his actions but I know that I never want to have my own child tell me what I told him…and so I forgive. I forgive because when I hold on to the resentment and anger, I find myself repeating the same things he did. I forgive because it is his image I hold in my mind when I want to make decisions about trust or love…I remember him and I pull back and a part of me dies each time this happens. I forgive because it makes me a hypocrite to expect God to forgive my every sin when I have not forgiven my own father or myself for my mistakes. Let me share how I was released from the bondage of not forgiving. For a couple of years I had been a Christian and I was doing fine until I realized that every time someone tried to talk to me about my father, I literally bristled. I would feel the hair on my neck stand up and my chest tighten; and then I would be unable to breathe. I would become agitated. People around me had learned to back off from what they knew was a no go area and that was fine by me. But as time went on, the Holy Spirit kept convicting me of the need to forgive my father; at a point, I wanted to but I didn't know how to do it so the circle continued until one night when I had a conversation with my soul mate. He had been trying for years to break through the walls that came up every time my father was mentioned and he always went bouncing back. Out of frustration on this night, he became angry. ‘You let your father control you’, he said. ‘You’re a different person when your father is mentioned because you refuse to forgive him.’ And I snapped. I switched off the phone on him and cried my eyes out because I knew it was true. My father was moving on with his life but I was stuck in one place, holding on to what I thought to be the reasons why I couldn't get on with my own life. I blamed him for some things. Then blamed him some more for everything. I cried out to God to set me free from this weight of unforgiveness I had been carrying around when a scripture I had known almost all my life was revealed to me in that moment. ‘At the mention of the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under earth and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. (Philippians 2:10 & 11) It was the word mentioned that jumped out at me. ‘At the mention of my name’, Jesus whispered to me; ‘Not the mention of your father’s name’….MY NAME! And it became clear to me. Everything in my life had been bowing to the mention of my father’s name, my father’s memory, my father’s actions… I had made my father lord over my life and not Jesus and in doing so my entire experiences were tied to him. I had made my father god over my life without even knowing it. This is what unforgiveness does to you. It bounds you with a thick rope, roots you in the place of that bad experience that caused you to take offence and lets you relive it over and over again. You are like a CD, skipping over and over again at 3.99 seconds exactly with no one to turn you off. Unforgiveness makes a prisoner out of you and not the person you take offence with. There are many of you who are broken records because you have refused to forgive that one person or the other for what you thought was the unforgiveable offence. If God could forgive you of all the offences you committed against him, why don’t you forgive? Trust me, it’s not for the other person’s sake, it’s for yours You are hypocrite if you don’t forgive and that is a fact. So I forgive, because, God forgave me first and because Jesus is my Lord…no one else deserves that position so don’t make the mistake of giving the power for your life to the wrong person. Give it to God by forgiving. (photos courtsey www.lacedwithgrace.com & www.sethsoasis.wordpress.com)