So there I sat, locked in a daydream, submitting to an unedited and panoramic view of all the bitter and sweet moments I’ve encountered during the last forty years. A priceless journey for those who have learned to relish the past, because they have learned not to focus on the encounter, but more so on what or who brought them through those dark moments; the near-death battles, the messy divorce, the unruly child, the dying parent, or admitting to being sick and tired of not being sick and tired.
The old adage; “You’re never too old to learn,” invades middle age with grace and honor. To desire and submit to a teachable spirit is not comfortable, nor can one expect an amicable co-existence with haughty attitudes of “I am set in my ways,” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As I experience the anatomical and physiological changes associated with middle age, I also try desperately to unearth, and pull out by the root, the remnant of pain, hatred, and unforgiving spirits still lurking in the heart of my spirit.
Forgiveness is a process; a very intricate function that requires intense focus and commitment. I have a profound respect for Catherine Booth, the wife of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Mrs. Booth, while listening to a friend try and refresh her memory of a near tragic ordeal, Catherine quoted; “You know, I remember forgetting that.” Until we fulfill the requirements of forgiving in its entirety, we are stuck in a neutral state, which deters our advancing to the next stage of the forgiveness process.
When we are offended, attacked, faced with a loved ones well being seeming compromised, lied to, conned out of earthly possessions or even worse; the ordeal transpires in blocks of activity. For instance; we receive a phone call concerning a loved one who has been injured or even killed by a drunken driver, initially our brain tries desperately to process the news, as does every vital organ required when processing unexpected or tragic news. Yes, we are human and we are allowed moments of anger, disappointment and grief. However, as time continues to advance throughout the day, the week, the years, God has provided us with and equipped us with the necessary mental, emotional and spiritual tools required to initiate the forgiving process.
The bible teaches us to forgive men if we expect God to forgive us, right? Well, at times we may feel the aught against our person is extreme and we would never do as such to another human being. However, sin is sin. And, offense from another is not dependent on the level or the category of the offense; it’s the gall a person has to attack our rights, lie, cheat, attack or invade our homes as robbers and worse. I’ve met countless associates or people in passing who struggle with forgetting. They claim to forgive, however they still harbor the entire offense in HD. This is most dangerous, in my most humble opinion. I remember pondering an incident concerning a “parishioner having to step through several seated attendees to get to her seat. While in passing, she “accidentally” stepped on my foot with a stiletto heel!” If you are familiar with this type heel, you are aware of the pain. However, though she apologizes with the most sincere words, my foot is injured and it will continue to hurt for, possibly days, even though I have forgiven her and released her from any restitution. If I may; I would like to offer a few points which may bless you with “the right” to forgive and forget. We cannot alter or stop the thoughts which appear in our subconscious, however we can choose not to dwell or entertain the thoughts.
Each time we struggle to forget an unfavorable act, the more we are plagued and haunted with the incident in segments or episodes. We remember each aspect, each encounter, down to the time and date of the occurrence. I’m learning to forgive whichever episode of the offense introduces itself. For example; I was brutally attacked and kidnapped. At one point I was thought to be dead. For years I hid the incident in a very dark and cold closet in my heart. As time progressed, that “space” became damp, molded and battered with wear and tear. Eventually, the entire incident replayed itself without any assistance from me. I was livid with hate, hurt and disgust. I tried to forgive the entire incident; to no avail. However, the Holy Spirit taught me how to forgive in segments. Each time I would recall any aspect of the ordeal; I would stop, pray and ask for strength to forgive that particular thought or preview. As time progressed, I eventually forgot various details and was able to overcome the tunnel vision of the horrific event. I was able to sleep without malice invading my peaceful nights rest. The good news is; once the process began, and I was willing to continue to commit and submit to God with a humble spirit, and determined to allow the process to complete, God was able to take me to the next level of His plans for my life and His ministry through me. God is willing and able to deliver us from ourselves; from our haughtiness and self-serving mannerisms, however we want, and we do not receive because there is a wall which serves to block certain blessings. It’s unfair to be victimized twice. God has brought a lot of His children through the worst of times, and the enemy continues to haunt the lives of the innocent. Today can be the first day of a new life; a life free of unforgiveness to yourself and to the perpetrator, so you can live “victimless.”
Reference Scriptures: Matt 6:14, Jas 4:3, 1 Cor 10:13, Matt 11: 28-30
Tina Chestnut (Writing as Ty Mays)