Forgiveness

Posted: 2011 06 15 by Chris Goforth in Biblical manhood, Challenge, Discipleship, Hardcore Christian Men, manhood, masculine, masculinity, Relationship

All of us have had something happen to us that makes us mad, harbor anger, bitterness and resentment.  Events have occurred in our lives that have been turning points.  People are human and born out of sin and because of this we collide with others and often react or do something that hurts another person, intentionally or unintentionally.  The fact of the matter is, the choices we make will impact others, seen or unseen, knowingly or unknowingly.  It’s part of living here on earth.

As I reflect back on my life there have been many things that have been said and done to me that caused deep wounds, emotional hurts and some have paralyzed me to my core.  I feel like I must have been walked around with a huge target on me.  I often felt like I was the poster child for how to screw up a boy.  My life wasn’t fun and pleasant on so many levels. The good memories I had often didn’t out weigh the bad ones. So what did I do with all of this?

Most of my young and adult life was about taking whatever happened to me and just stuffing it.  I was resilient in my ability to just take and take and take more stuff.  My self-esteem was 0 and even though I hated all that had been done to me, I just accepted this was my life, I was getting what I deserved and no one really cared so just suck it up and take it.  What happened as a result of all of this?  I became a very angry and bitter young man who hated pretty much everything and everyone.  I would find something about you I didn’t like and that was it, you were dirt to me.  I didn’t want you around me, nor did I ever want to see or speak to you again.  I pretty much alienated everyone around me.   The bitterness and anger had helped shape me and turned me into something I hadn’t ever imagined.

I had been attending different churches since I had been in the 5th grade.  I had heard that to be forgiven you had to forgive.  That was the basic message and I really never thought much about it.  After I got married and started having a family a friend of mine took me aside and said, I think you have some serious issues you need to deal with.  Of course I got mad and just dismissed him and being the person I am was, I became pretty angry with him for quite sometime. Somehow though I think that God was trying to get to me and realize just how damaged I was.  I don’t know how long after that conversation it was, but I went through and did a really exhaustive inventory of my life.  This included writing down all the hurts and pains that had happened to me, the people who had hurt me in various forms and looked at how I had responded and how I was dealing with things in my life.  Finally I was beginning see myself for who I really was and it was not a pretty picture.

My list included incest and molestation by older male cousins, rejection from other guys at school, being told I was a girl, wimp, a pussy, and a fag and that I was gay.  I had a father who was present but absent as well. Being told I would never amount to anything, I was a loser, jerk, aloof and a snob.  I wasn’t a good husband or father; I was a liar, cheater and manipulator.  There was more and more of this listed on the pages I had written.  To see all of it written out the picture was pretty clear for me.  It had all taken its toll on me and I had allowed it to shape the person I was.  I had allowed all this horrible stuff to gain control of my life and it was what fueled me to get through my days.

I wrote all of this down, called my friend and shared with him all of it.  He didn’t really have a clue as to the extent of what I dealt with.  He talked to me about forgiveness and holding onto all that pain, hurt and anger and the power it held over my life.  We talked about how forgiving people, didn’t mean that I would forget, only God was capable of that, but that it released the power of what people had done from me.  We talked about how I could live such a different life, a life of freedom if I was willing to let go of all of this stuff.  After talking for a couple of hours it finally made sense for the first time in my life.  The idea of what forgiveness really meant.

We spent the rest of that day going over page after page and naming each hurt and pain and the person who had done it.  I made the choice to sincerely forgive each and every person and event that occurred.  It was a long and exhausting process that took most all that day.  At the end of all of it, he posed this question to me.  “Are you ready to forgive yourself?”  What in the world was he talking about forgiving myself?    Why should I forgive myself?  After another lengthy conversation I soon came to understand that it’s just as important to forgive your own mistakes and hurts as it is with anyone else.  By the end of that day I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.  I felt as though I had spent years and years of my life lodged under this boulder.  I began to feel like the boulder had been taken away.  This had been a tough day, but one that should have happened years ago.  I slept that night for the first night in a very long time like no other night in my life.  I slept peacefully and soundly.  My life began changing after that.  Since I no longer held onto all of those hurts and pains I could now go on living a much different life.

As someone who’s goal is to be a real authentic man, I want to be able to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me as well as ask forgiveness of those I have hurt.  As a real authentic man, I believe you own up to your mistakes and you fix what needs fixing.  If you have wronged someone you go and make it right as best you can.

As a husband and father, I want my wife and kids to know that I make mistakes all the time.  I own up to them and ask for forgiveness.  I want them to see that I am genuine and honest in all that I do.  If I hurt them with something I say or do, then my response is to go and make it right with them.  I know that as a human I am going to make mistakes.  I didn’t go into marriage or parenting thinking that wouldn’t happen.  I am all too aware of this.  In my house I have taught my kids about forgiveness and wronging others.  In our house when we do something wrong this is how we fix it.

Go to the other person, give them eye contact and state.

(Person’s name inserted here).

I am sorry that I (insert offense here)

It was wrong of me, I shouldn’t have done (insert offense here)

Will you please forgive me?

It’s easy to say I was wrong, will you forgive me.  I had seen my kids do this so many times in the past.  One day it hit me, they aren’t really giving a heartfelt apology, and they don’t even own up to what they did that was wrong, they are just saying the words so they can get it over and move on.  So I changed it and made it become the way we all do it now.  It’s much harder to admit the offense and you were wrong, but I believe more honesty and sincerity comes from this than any other.  When we are forces to admit we did something that hurt another person and that it was truly wrong, I think that gets you to stop and think about it a bit more than you usually would.  At least it has for my kids.

Forgiveness isn’t easy by any means.  I still deal with the hurts and pains of what has been done to me.  However the anger and bitterness that I once held onto is gone.  There are days I have ill thoughts or feelings towards those who have hurt me in the past and I again make the choice then and there to forgive them.  I don’t want anger and bitterness controlling my life and the moves I make.  I want to be free from that.  People hurt us and it leaves scars of all types and because our minds can’t forget what’s been done to us, it takes us letting go and moving beyond that.  Releasing those people into God and allowing him to deal with the things they have done.  I realize that it is not my responsibility to get back at them, but I rest in knowing that someday they will stand before God and be held accountable for their words and actions.  I am ok with that and I rest in the fact that they no longer hold power over my life.

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