According to the Bible, there are many mentions of forgiveness (KJV)
Mark 11:25 - And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Ephesians 4:32 - And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Matthew 6:15 - But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Luke 6:27 - But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Luke 6:37 – Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Colossians 3:13 - Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.
Matthew 6:14-15 - For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Even if you are not a believer in the Bible, you can Google search “what is the meaning of forgiveness”, all day long and it comes up with the solid answer
Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance, and with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning, excusing, forgetting, pardoning, and reconciliation.
My next question is, what does the Bible say about a parent’s responsibilities to their child?
Ephesians 6:4 - And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, provoke not your children [to anger], lest they be discouraged.
2 Corinthians 12:14 - Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
Psalms 127:3 - Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward.
Proverbs 29:17 - Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
Nowhere does it say, “parents abandon your child/ children”!
Even in the dictionary via Google (below)
The role of “parent” has a broad definition. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a parent is a person who brings up and cares for another.
However, being a parent does not necessarily mean that you biologically passed your genetics to a child. A parent can take on different forms, such as stepparent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a combination.
Regardless of the form, the following remains constant: A parent’s job is to raise children to be the best men and women that they can be. It’s a huge responsibility, one that requires patience, love, and understanding.
For many people, being a parent means:
- You take care of your child - Physically and emotionally, you are your child’s caretaker. You often put your child’s needs before your own.
- You are a provider - Your see to it that there’s food on the table for your child.
- You are a protector - You try your best to keep your child safe.
- You love your child - The love that a parent has for his or her child is incomparable. In addition, your child may become your world, “your everything.”
- You are a counselor and a confidant - Because you have your child’s best interests at heart, you are in a good position to give sound advice. You encourage your child to reach for the stars.
- You are a teacher - Whether teaching a child how to walk, or the difference between right and wrong, or how to conduct oneself in social settings, and everything in between, a parent’s job as teacher is never done.
- You are a role model - Children imitate their parent’s behavior. Your child’s little eyes always watching, as you do your best to lead by example.
So, what am I trying to get at here? I am trying to make a point that forgiveness is something we should do, whether one has hurt us to the core or not. It is not easy, it is probably one of the hardest things you will have to do in the beginning, as time goes on, it does become easier. Dependent upon the types of relationships you have with the person you are trying to forgive; determines the length of time it takes you to forgive them. Wounds are deep, although you cannot see them, the scars are there, internally, mentally, they are imbedded into your heart and your mind. Everything says you are forgiving to free yourselves from the burden of carrying this weight and anger and not necessarily to help the other person. At the time, it doesn’t feel true. It feels impossible.
I know this post has been long so far, I apologize for that, I do need to carry on a little further to let you know how important forgiveness is and also to let you know why it is that often we may not understand why a person may handle life the way they do. In some situations, people are down right assholes, they are mean, malicious, vindictive, manipulative, narcissistic sociopaths and they aim at their targets with the intention of destruction, first with charm and false promises. Once you have bitten that red apple so to speak, you are poisoned and trapped, the snakes are wrapping around your legs and if you try to run you will fall, the snakes wrap your body until they strangle you and there is no way out, if you manage to get out, you are bitter and resentful and it appears you are not able to forgive nor forget. You blame them and yourself.
Others may not set out to intentionally hurt you, they may have good intentions at first and then life or circumstances change. They simply change their minds, pressure gets to them, you then become a victim of the circumstances or a survivor of the circumstances, either way, you are likely hurt within the process.
I am going to make my stories as short as possible while allowing another very personal glimpse into my life and the bricks that have built me. These are only 3 stories of how I forgave individuals, the length of time it took me to forgive them and why I forgave them.
1. My first story begins with the man that molested me as a child, it began when I was 12 years old, he was my mother’s boyfriend. His goal was to take my virginity. My mother did not believe me, although I presented proof. I called the police; child protective services, even running away several times and I was in a girl’s home. This man was abusive to my mother and my brothers. The only reason I ended up having a child at the age of 14 was because I didn’t want him to rape me, so I chose to have sex with a boy I had a so-called relationship with at the time. Seriously, at the ages of 12 to 14 how can you really have a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend, much less a child? I did though, my oldest son saved my life. I had so much anger and resentment build up inside of me, and rage, oh the rage. For about 20 years I would think about what I would do or say to this man if I saw him in person again, he was a serial child molester, rapist and abuser, but he was never charged. I would wish so many bad things on him. It was eating me alive. I finally got to the point where I took a look at myself and these evil thoughts of mine and realized, if I am wishing ill will on him, how does this make me any better than actually following through with the acts that he has done to others? I couldn’t handle the tension in my body any longer. I had two choices, I could continue to feel the pain, or I could release it. Not for him, but for me. I decided right then and there that I would forgive him. My mind changed about what I would say to him if I ever saw him again. I would simply look at him and say “I forgive you, I forgive you for what you put my brothers, my mother and myself through and I have decided to let God deal with you, may you live in peace knowing what you have done to others”, then I would walk away. He died this year and I literally felt nothing. Not sadness, not happiness, nothing, numb. I forgave him about 10 years ago. Now he must answer to a higher power for his sins. I don’t personally know what his motives were, maybe he was just twisted in the mind.
2. My second story is too in-depth to really tell in full details, however my ex-husband really reeled me in, not once but twice. The first time because my youngest son had a great relationship with him, the second time because he convinced me that he was the only one that I could count on and he was the only one that would ever be faithful, etc. After a few years the second go round, he spent a large sum of a settlement I received, convinced me to buy him a vehicle, stole, cheated, was verbally and emotionally abusive and I somehow, I was allowing this. Sounds insane, and that is exactly how I felt. He made me think I was insane. I was dealing with a lot of illnesses at the time, which is no excuse and basically, I had come to the realization that he never really liked me. He just loved controlling me, I believe it was because I was always strong and independent and it was his way of breaking me down and trying to get back at me for things he thought that I had done in the past to hurt him. He did admit to it all. He admitted to a lot of wrong doings over the course of the 14 years. I forgive him, I forgave him when he looked at me and admitted to the affair and when he told me he reeled me back in to hurt me and it was part of his plan. Something is wrong with a person like that, I believe it's called a narcissistic sociopath. I felt utterly gullible and outright stupid, that is exactly how he treated me and wanted me to feel though, mission accomplished. I know how strong I am, I know how capable I am. I had a gut feeling that something was off, and truth be known, I felt sorry for him. Now I wish him all the best. I hope he lives a happy life. I hope he finds someone that can deal with him, I hope he remarries. He mentally took his toll on me, he stressed me out, he put me in a position which I will never allow myself to be in again. It was a much easier process to forgive him and to forgive myself for being naïve. I wasted a good chunk of my life, but again, we learn lessons and we gather bricks for our buildings.
3. Lastly, the hardest person that I have ever forgiven, and the longest process was my mother. She was rarely loving, an addict, mentally and verbally abusive, a thief, yes she stole from me, forged my name to checks, had intercourse with the biological father of my children, she was literally a crack whore, yes, a real-life prostitute. She used to tell me if I was her only child, she would have been a high-class call girl. She hated my handwriting, there was even a time where she made me re-write an entire 5 subject notebook of vocabulary words with definitions, I was a scholar (straight A student), refused to ever let me cut my hair, preferred watching other little girls over me. I always felt like she hated me. She didn't believe me when I presented her proof of being molested by her boyfriend. When I was subsequently having her boyfriend arrested for molestation (sexual assault), at 5 months pregnant (yes, the process took almost 2 years), she threatened to place in a girl's home and take my baby should I proceeded with the charges. Little did I have a choice at the time, I felt, but to drop the charges. At the age of 9 taking it upon herself tell me that the man I knew as my dad was not my real dad, all because she was mad at him, while driving me to school appeared to be a great idea. having affairs with the neighbors apparently seemed acceptable also. Somehow it entered her mind to place dead bugs around the bed and tell me if I didn’t stay in the bed the bugs would "attack" me and if I made too much noise the alligator under the bed would wake up too. I will never forget the "IT" that lives in the closet, as she leaves the closet door cracked, "don't turn over and look that way or you are going to see him looking at you". I was probably about three or four at that time, talk about terrified. I regularly was smacked in the mouth and told "Emmely everyone likes a little ass, but no one likes a smart ass"! When she would braid my hair, it would be so tight I would get a headache, if I wasn't still enough or complained, "whack", right in the head with the wooden bristle brush. She had drug dealers threatening to kill my youngest brother because she owed them drug money, I had to pay that off. I ended up taking custody of my youngest brother and raising him until he was 19 years old. She then introduced him to crack cocaine and he became an addict, left his family and has pretty much been in prison since. Okay enough, I could go on and on, I am not trying to bash her, in fact, she has made me who I am. These experiences have! If you look at this entire picture it is even quite comical to some sadistic effect. Now there were a few years where I do recall her being a good mother, she bought me Barbie dolls and she sang Delta Dawn to me, we never did anything together though, like mothers and daughters do. I had a homemade Cabbage Patch doll that looked like Chuckie's sister, I guess there was not enough money to buy one, it was either snorted or smoked up. I did have pretty dresses for a bit, until we had to thrift store shop (nothing wrong with the thrift stores). Finally, about 18 years ago she straightened her life out, stabilized into an apartment, started seeing a psychiatrist. About as straight as it was ever going to be. I swear I do not believe she was ever sober a day in her life. Throughout those 18 years pills and marijuana were a daily occurrence, but hey, it’s beats crack cocaine! I was reluctant to have any type of relationship with her based on her track record of walking out and the lack of mothering throughout the years (so much more I have intentionally left out). The only consistency was drugs and let downs. Over the years I watched her from a distance, she grew fragile, older, weaker, but just as stubborn. Always insisted on walking everywhere. I turned down about every connection she tried to make with me. I dreaded inviting her to holiday dinners and gatherings, I would buy blank cards for her birthday or Mother's Day because I had nothing mushy or nice to say. When she needed something, I was there, unlike when I needed her. I bought her a cell phone and paid for it for it for 5 years and then told my brother it was his turn. I would buy her groceries, take her money, then I would tell my brother it was his turn. We got to the point where we just didn’t give her money or anything she could sell because she would use it to buy marijuana. I would get so angry at her and I would say “if you ever become so ill you can’t take care of yourself; I am putting you in a nursing home”. My oldest son was very close to her, he ended up taking over and helping her out a great deal. Now, let me tell you, she was an excellent grandmother, she loved her grandchildren and her great grandchildren! Brandin had a great bond with her and it was odd that she would only listen to him. In 2016-2017, I began taking over her doctors’ appointments in addition to dealing with my own health problems. I was exhausted and irritated, I had no choice though, she was becoming forgetful and sicker. The end stages of COPD were rearing up and she was diagnosed with lung cancer too. I began spending more time with her. She beat the lung cancer by Christmas (2017), in January 2018, the hospital called, they were giving her less than 24 hours to live. Mom had called an ambulance and not told anyone, once she arrived at the hospital, she refused all treatment. Our options were to leave her in the hospital to pass or take her home in hospice to pass. We (my oldest son and I), decided to take her to his house in hospice and we would take care of her until she passed. Miraculously she made it through the night, we prayed over her, the next night she became more coherent, each day she was getting a little better. I was spending 18-19 hours a day/ night with her and getting very little sleep, my son was barely sleeping then going to work. We prepared her meals, drinks, bathed her, helped dress her, she was on oxygen, she was very bad off. We didn’t know how much time was really left. She would go in and out of consciousness on some weeks. During the times of full consciousness, I would talk to her, she hilarious, we would laugh so hard, I did have my frustrating moments with her too. I realized during that those times, during that period in time, I'd come to realize I had never really, truly forgiven her for abandoning us as children and the neglect and the hurt she had put us through. I also didn't know her. I only knew the let downs and this image of a horrible person. I didn't know my mother, the woman whom gave birth to me. I wanted to talk about it. So, I did, the more I talked about it, the less she remembered about my childhood and the more she told me about her own. At times my son had to remind her of things she didn’t recall that, memories he recalled during her drug days. At a very young age, mom was left by her mother and until she was 13. She was left with a father who was an alcoholic and a coal miner. Her mother took a couple of the younger children and left the others. Her oldest sister was more of the caretaker over the children that were left in West Virginia. Once her mother came back to get her, they had a toxic and turbulent relationship. She didn't really know her mother either, mom was feisty and stubborn and very angry too. At the age of 16 she turned to drugs to numb her pain. When she was pregnant with me, my grandmother was going to make her have an abortion and then changed her mind and tried to take me from her, then she married the man I knew as my dad when I was 1. They were heavily into drugs, I recollect parties, chaos, loud music, arguing, then it would be calm and her cleaning the house then sleeping a whole lot. She was always high on something, cocaine, speed, uppers, downers, marijuana, hash, making crank, you name it, they were on it. She took in strangers like stray cats. While talking to her about this, she could not even remember most weekends and summers I spent with my aunt. She just knew that my aunt and grandmother wanted to take me from her. I realized then and there, she did not intentionally abandon us when she went to jail all of those times or even while on the streets prostituting and doing drugs, she did not intentionally not love us, she did not intentionally neglect us. She was an addict, she could not deal with her own reality, her own emotions, she had never dealt with her own issues and she was never able to. She never knew the love of a mother, she knew abandonment, she didn’t know how to give love. Then when the semi-sober years came around and she tried some form of what she thought was love, I didn't trust her, and I didn’t give her the chance based on the history of her past record, I had lost out. I, somehow failed her as she had failed me as her mother had failed her. There was a cycle and it had completed itself almost. During those months of spending time with her and thinking, God was telling me something, he was giving me back a little of that time to bond with her. For us to learn to love each other, for me to truly forgive her, to know her, to understand her. Instead of being a survivor of her circumstances as I was, mom was actually a victim. Mom was a survivor in many ways, but not by breaking the cycle, not by learning love and breaking the cycle of abandonment. I held those months tightly. Every chance I had, I would say “Mom, I love you”, every moment I was with her, I catered to her every need, I showed her love, I showed her respect, I bathed her, I put lotion on her, I made sure her hair was fixed, I even put make-up on her, dressed her in her “pretty clothes” from time to time. I made her special smoothies and I would bring her desserts. I wanted her to feel special, no one had ever made her feel worthy or special before. She apologized to me for not remembering things and she apologized for everything she had done and the things she did remember; I would just remind her that I have forgiven her. I apologized to her for the way she had to grow up. I took videos of her, because she was so comical. I took pictures of her. She refused to let anyone take care of her besides my oldest son and It. She would tell the CNA's or anyone that would try to help to either go away or she was tired. Then laugh after they would leave. But she knew she was dying, and she wanted us beside her, she had a right to be selfish. In her final days she asked for 2 of my cousins and we made it a very peaceful week, not once did we leave her alone. We prayed over her, put her favorite music on, sang to her, my son played his guitar, we brushed her hair as she was unconscious. Her body was shutting down and her organs failing. As she took her final breathe, you could see the peace in her face, at that moment she looked 20 years younger. And although her life was lonely and sad and she was never respected or cared for as a child or person should be, during those last 8 months of her life, she finally was at peace. She left this world knowing what it was like to have her family, she knew true laughter, and most of all she knew what it was like to be respected, cherished, forgiven, and above all else loved. It took me 32 years to love and forgive my mother. It was the very best thing I have ever done! I would absolutely live those 8 months over again haven the chance to do so and I would forgive her faster and tell her even more that I love her. I would take more pictures and I would hug her more too.
The moral of all my forgiveness stories are, forgiveness is necessary, forgiveness can be a beautiful thing. Holding on to resentment is harder than forgiving. Forgive others and forgive yourself!