I probably will not share my entire story here…. not now; not necessary. But I do want to share some of it. Why? Well, as a lesson in forgiveness. A lesson for me to always remember. In order for the impact to last I need to put it in writing and you, dear reader, have chosen to be a witness to my life lesson! So ultimately this story is for me and if you should gain anything, whether it be a lesson or just a story to pass the time’ I will be satisfied.
Over the past few years I have spoken to many people on the subject of forgiveness and their questions are always the same“I cannot forgive! What has happened to me is too much for me to bear or let go of…how do I start?” Because the questions always seemed to be the same, I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my story. It is said you need to lead by example, so I will. I will show you, in my words, that I do walk my talk, as best I can. I live by the words I write. I will not say it has always been easy, but I will say that my life has changed because of the very things I write about; forgiveness and gratitude. I will also say this; there are many people with sadder stories, but this is mine, or part of it!
This story will not delve into my pre teen years, I am not going to talk about how I was abused by people who I should have been able to trust, I will not speak of an abusive baby-sitter or some other terrible tragedy that struck me at a young impressionable age. Could I? Yes I could. But that is not the purpose for which I am writing this. Where I am going is into a part of my life where I am accountable. This is not about laying blame on others, so the best way for me to try and keep this on track is to not go to a place where I may want to blame parents, or any other authoritative figure, someone who should have protected me. OK?
Okay, so this is where I want to go…..
I was married at a very young age, 19, I had a husband who wanted to keep me reclusive, he never allowed me to drive or venture out on my own. I allowed him to make a victim of me. He had me do things in my young life that a person, of any age, should not have to do. He beat me, only once, so in that respect I was lucky. I had 3 children before I was 25. By the time the 3rd was born we were all but abandoned, and had no idea where the food would come from on a day-to-day basis. When I came down with an infection, post c-section, it was my 6-year-old daughter who took care of me as I lay somewhat delirious with a 1 week old by my side and a 3 & 6 yr old to take care of! I could go on, but you get the picture. I left that marriage 3 months after the youngest was born. I never looked back. All I wanted was to move forward, but that would not happen without a few attempts (some extremely violent) by my ex. And no, there was not to be much, if any, financial support from my ex.
In my attempt over the years to take care of my children, I married a second time; I made a choice that was not the best, of course I was unaware, but it became clear once the abuse started. There was a time in my life when I was thankful I did not own a gun, because I know what it feels like to want to protect your children at all costs! We eventually got out of that situation, praise the Lord. Speaking of the Lord, I was not close to Him at that time. I have always had God in my heart, but I was definitely separated for a long time.
I spent many years raising my children either alone or in a bad relationship. And when I say bad I am not talking about “lack of communication” or” he doesn’t pay attention to me” or ” we are not compatible” OR EVEN ” my husband cheats on me” no, while these things were components for sure, they were not the big issues. These were soul stealing relationships. By the time I reached my middle ages I had a lot of baggage that needed forgiven, forgiveness for others and for me.
It took me many years to understand that I have choices! And the choices I continually made were leading us, me and my children, into the lives we were experiencing! When I say this has been a journey, I am serious! A journey usually has many ups and downs, the road is usually not very straight or level, and that has been my experience, and still is. I live my day’s one by one, and I am grateful for everything that I have. I am grateful for my relationship with God, and for my family, and for the fact that we survived everything we went through, we not only survived but as it turns out, we are thriving! I have taught my children about gratitude, love, consideration for others, and God. Armed with these tools of life we are making our way through and learning to treat others the way we want to be treated; not necessarily the way we are treated!
Life is awesome! It is an experience I wouldn’t want to miss. Would I change anything? At this point I can honestly say “no” I would not change a thing!
There is much more to my story. But I think I have shared enough for you to understand that maybe it has not been easy; and that is what I want. Understand that we all have a journey to take and in that journey God never promised a level and peaceful road. He only promised that He will be by our side as we make the journey. And I now believe that.
So how did I start the path to forgiveness? How did I begin the healing process? First you know we can’t begin without acknowledging the need to begin; and wanting it. Truly I tell you it was a day-to-day process. Each day, and in the beginning I missed plenty of days, I would wake up and simply say “thank you” and then I would submerge myself in spiritual growth books. I surrounded myself with audio books at home, books at home and away, documentaries about spiritual growth and miracles, I stopped spending time with anyone who was less than 85% positive (family can be tricky!!). I am telling you I bathed myself in an abundance of positive influence. Even when I went out for relaxation purposes I went to a book store and read books on spiritual growth, I did this for years, I still do it! I realized it is necessary to change your way of thinking; changing your environment (as best you can) is a good place to start. It is in your control! It is your choice. I am here to tell you it works! It does take time! But it works. And by doing this I began to understand that forgiveness of ourselves and others, is not for them, but for us. Unforgiveness in any form for any person is like poison to our lives; our souls.
After I immersed myself in this practice things started changing; I became reconnected to God. I started to live a life from a grateful place and slowly it was not something I needed to practice; it became who I am.
Today I have forgiven all that needs forgiving; although I make sure to revisit the subject now and then to clear out any unforgiveness, anger, or grudges that may be hiding out within my heart. It is a process, but today it is a process that I not only enjoy but am grateful for. And today I trust God is by my side; always has been, even when I was unaware.