Forgiveness is not for the other person; it is for you! I’ve heard this saying more times than I can count. It’s a simple statement, yet so many people don’t understand the concept of forgiving others. I admit, I struggled with this concept as well. I didn’t realize until this year that I didn’t have a forgiving heart. I faced two challenging situations in 2015 that shook me to my core. I was so hurt that people I dearly loved could hurt me so bad. I was furious, and anger consumed me for months. I remember going to bed and thinking about how I was wronged. I had so many thoughts of retaliating. I wanted them to hurt just as much as I did. My anger turned into bitterness, and it took over my life. Every time I saw the people who hurt me, my whole countenance would change. I was mad because one person was in denial about how they hurt me, and the other person was someone I trusted with everything I had. 2015 felt like the year from hell. I was ready for 2016 to jet ski it’s way into existence. However, the crazy thing is I would be taking all of that anger, bitterness, and un-forgiveness with me into the new year.
New Years rolled around, and I celebrated with my mentor, Eboni L. Truss, in Alabama, but I was the bag lady that Erykah Badu had sung about. I had my anger, bitterness, and un-forgiveness packed away, and I carried it with pride. I felt I was entitled to it since I was the one wronged. Holding on to all those toxins was taking a toll on me. It even affected me spiritually. I felt so guilty going to God in prayer and asking Him for forgiveness, yet I couldn’t forgive the people who hurt me. There were so many times that God had instructed me to forgive, but I ignored Him and kept on being the bag lady carrying all her toxins. However, during New Year’s, I was tired of dealing with un-forgiveness. I was being robbed of my peace, and I wanted it back. My spirit was heavy, and I wanted to be free from it all. I made the decision on New Year’s to forgive those who hurt me, but before I did, I had to ask God to help me. I knew I was struggling to forgive, so I needed God’s help to do it. I prayed a sincere prayer, and I could feel a release before I even reached out to forgive. Learning how to forgive wasn’t easy for me, but doing so surely did set me free. I now know from experience the meaning of forgiveness not being for the other person but you.
Learning to forgive also helped me to start the process of forgiving the men who violated me over the years. I carried the guilt and shame of being sexually abused for many years. I felt as though it was somehow my fault. I wondered what could I have done to prevent the abuse. I punished myself for something I had no control over. Shame and guilt went with me everywhere I went. They were a part of my toxin cocktail that I carried in my bag. In order to release the shame and guilt, I had to forgive myself and also my abusers. I could no longer live my life wrongfully punishing myself. It wasn’t fair to me. Who wants to be punished for something they didn’t do? I had to kick shame and guilt to the curb because they had absolutely no right to be in my life. Shame and guilt are not yours to carry around. You are not responsible for the abuse you suffered. Let it go!
You may be struggling to forgive those who have hurt you as well. You may feel that you have a right to hold whatever anger you have toward that person. You may be thinking, they hurt me so they have to suffer, but the truth is, you are suffering. You have given someone else control over you. You don’t have to be a prisoner to un-forgiveness, guilt, and shame. It’s time to unpack that bag of toxins so you can be whole. If you are struggling to forgive and ditch the guilt and shame then you definitely want to be present at the Restorative Healing Writing Workshop that will be taking place in Birmingham, AL. At this workshop, I will be sharing more details on how to forgive and how to give shame and guilt the boot. To learn more information about the workshop visit www.bit.ly/restorativewriting.
Sequoia T. Gillyard, The Word Worshiper