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The Road to Forgiveness

Today I am part of a story in the Wall Street Journal on forgiveness. As many of you who regularly read my blog know, my family is now after God, the most important “thing” in my life but it definitely wasn’t always the case.

As a child, things happened and didn’t happen that caused me to see my childhood a certain way – I carried many of the hurts I felt were committed against me with me for years after leaving home.  I did leave home in a hurry.  While I did fall in love with the Marine Corps and being a Marine became what I wanted to be/do when I was a Freshman in High School; I also recognize now it was the fastest way for me to leave home and be on my own.

For years I was closed off to my family, carrying feelings of hurt, rejection, and anger.  For years, I didn’t see or realize how emotionally closed off I was and had been at an early age. I took on the world alone and found myself in so much pain and constant struggle.

It did all eventually cumulate to me falling down to my knees and praying to God; admitting I couldn’t do it alone – that’s when I died to self and started to give my will over to Him. I began to obey His will for my life and He brought incredible change in me which lead me to being able to see the errors in my ways, my stubbornness, ego, arrogance, my self-pity, and all the love I was missing out on.

God lead me back to my family and armed me with the ability to forgive, forget and move forward. Forgiveness requires letting go of the pain we carry with us, with the emotions and hurt that become part of our identity over the years. We become so attached to that pain we almost don’t know who we would be without it. I didn’t want to be associated with a story of pain and self-pity anymore, with God I wanted to be associated to grace, glory, righteousness, strength, forgiveness and love.

Everyone in my family welcomed me back with open arms and I do recognize that as a blessing from God and I do know not everyone will necessarily encounter the same happy ending.  However, for the sake of your walk with God, your peace of mind, health and well being I definitely recommend seeing the errors of your ways in the relationship(s) where forgiveness is needed and offering that forgiveness.  Free yourself from the pain, hurt, anger and the identity you have tied to your story of wrongs done to you.  It does not serve you; it hinders you.  Create a better identity for yourself – one that involves being able to forgive.

3 Comments on The Road to Forgiveness

  1. Ann, I like this story better. She shouldn’t cut it because with this original story, we can understand better what you’ve been through. I’m so sorry you felt that way. Ann, you all so important to me including you and I loved you and still as you were my own daughter. For me it wasn’t the stepdaughter but my oldest out of 4 daughters. I’m glad you’re back in our lives and we still have so many good and happy years in front of us. With all my Love xoxo

  2. Thank you Jocelyne! I definitely realize how much you love me and I hope you know how much I love you. The irony of it all is that it wouldn’t have hurt so much to be distanced from you, had I not loved you so much. We hurt the ones we love. It’s an awful truth. It was very important for me to change and to see all those years through your eyes. We never intended to hurt each other and thankfully we do have many great years ahead of us!!

    Love you

  3. here are some thoughts I put together a little while ago on the topic…

    If I could change my memories I could change the past; Obviously, I can’t change or invent events – they happened as they happened; But the past and memory of the past exists only in the present mind. So we can’t make stuff up, but we can change the interpretation & understanding of the past in a positive manner, and gift ourselves with new memories.

    We need to forgive everyone who hurt and disappointed us; the only person we hurt by not forgiving is ourselves. “They” are not sitting somewhere and anguishing over it – we are. For example, if I were to sit down with someone who hurt me some time ago and tell them I are forgiving them and letting it go, more than likely they will have no recollection or knowledge of what I am talking about. We continue to hold on to the burning coal of resentment and frustration and refuse to let go of it. It’s mine! I feel bad.. I’m suffering… I wonder what I should do…? The obvious answer is to let go of the coal; but I don’t want to – what will I do without it? It keeps me warm!

    We define ourselves by the bitterness and resentment we hold on to and revive on a daily basis, allowing us to maintain the unhappy sense of self in a state of denial. How can I be happy and fulfilled when i’m holding on to grudges like this?

    We need to forgive unilaterally and pre-emptively.

    Unilaterally – from one side – doesn’t mean I call them up out of the blue and say, ‘I forgive you’: more than likely they will be annoyed, and it will make me sound like an idiot and a goody-two shoes. We need to forgive them in our own minds, to ourselves.

    And pre-emptively, before they ask us to. Meaning, I’m not waiting around for them to come and beg me for forgiveness. We can live our whole lives waiting for a moment that never comes – we might live in a fantasy that this person will one day come begging on their hands and knees, grovelling, and they will say that their whole life has been ruined because of what they did or said; that they can’t sleep or eat because of the anxiety and anguish it causes them — and they will say to me, ‘Please, I beg you, forgive me!’ – and I will sit on my throne in judgement, and will say, ‘Hmmm perhaps. OK, yes. I forgive you’.

    Having forgiven, we can now create new memories and gift ourselves with a different past, which in turn gifts us with a different understanding of the present, which gives us a better perspective on the world – and the only world that exists is the world we perceive – and we can we change the world itself by being grateful. It’s easy to be grateful for the nice things and nice people in our lives, to be grateful for the people who have loved and nurtured us, for the education and opportunities we received, for the wealth and possession we’ve accumulated – but we must also to be grateful for everyone who has interacted with us – especially the people that have hurt us and with whom we are angry. But we can’t feel grateful to them until we’ve forgiven them

    Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning, or excusing, or forgetting – if what happened was ok, then there would be nothing to forgive; there must have been a genuine and intentional act that hurt you that requires actual forgiveness. It was wrong for them to hurt you, just as its wrong for you to hurt other people

    So this second level is gratitude and the expression of that gratitude – Thank you for hurting me, because that has made me the kind of person I am. If I can be grateful for the person that I am, then I have a healthy sense of self-respect and am happy with who I am.

    In the future when I think about how I once was, I will be thinking about who I am right now. We are now who we think we once were; In the future, we will be who we think we once were, and who we once were are who we are now. We create memories at every moment. And if we try to be a good person, a kind person, a compassionate person, a loving person, a forgiving person – right here and now – we will have different memories of ourselves in the future. We will have a different sense of ourselves in the only world we know and can ever know.

    So with forgiveness and gratitude we can change ourselves; we can change our sense of self; we can change our understanding of events; and we can change the world..

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