Forgiveness can be defined as releasing any negative feelings towards a person or group that wronged you in any way. I was raised in the Church of God in Christ (C.O.G.I.C.) and forgiveness was one of the things that was frequently spoken about. As a young child/ teenager, my interpretation of the “forgiveness sermon” was that no matter what people do to you, because God dwells inside of you, you must forgive, or you are going to hell. Seriously? What the hell were those preachers talking about? You mean to tell me that if someone causes harm to my loved ones or myself, I need to “turn the other cheek?” Hell naw I wasn’t turning the other cheek! I will take my chances. Shame on me, I know… total eye roll.
There was a time in my life when there was no room for forgiveness. Once I was wronged by a person, it was pretty much over for the relationship. There was no in between for me. It was either I loved a person with all my heart, or I didn’t. For those who managed to make it on my “didn’t love” list, they received the cold, cold version of me.
Years of this accumulated bitterness added to my temper. Back in the day, it took me a while to get angry, but honey, when I did get angry, it was frightening. It was best for whoever was in my way to give me my space, because it was going to be hell in the kingdom, as my Godbrother would say. Unforgiveness in my heart was not good for my emotional, mental, or physical health. It also impacted my family in a negative way. I noticed some of that same behavior was showing up in my children when they became angry, which was alarming to me. That is when I realized I needed to change. More importantly, my children needed to see me go through the process of changing my behavior.
Fast forward to present day, after all my self-reflective work and God’s grace, forgiveness holds a special place in my heart. I now interpret what those preachers from back in the day preached about in a different way. With additional research and lived experience, I now understand that forgiveness does not mean that you should excuse what a person or group has done to you. It also does not mean that you must be besties with them or support them either. It’s a different type of understanding that comes with growth and self-love. Yep… I said self-love. Forgiveness is not necessarily just for the involved parties; It’s for you too! When I started to let go of the things that people did and the not-so-nice words that people spoke to me, I began to feel better. No exaggeration, life became easier to cope with because I didn’t have this extra layer of ice over my heart to deal with. I experienced this peace that I never felt before. So, I am basically a magical unicorn. But seriously, I am not saying that it was easy for me to move on. I would be lying if I said it was. I am also not saying that I am quick to forgive in every situation that I face. I have my work cut out for me. I still have a bit of gangster in me, but I believe that God will take care of that in his own way. Perhaps, I need it? Anyway, it took and still takes the power of prayer, support from a few loved-ones, and a desperate need to get better to peacefully move on from past hurt. I finally know what the preachers from back in the day were talking about. Amen for the Elders! I can have peace about certain things because of the God in me. Now, when I encounter those who display the same bitterness that I once held, I immediately go to God on their behalf and send them loving energy. It is not important for them to know I am interceding on their behalf, so I rarely tell them. I am sure that God will honor my prayers for them when He feels like it.
Let’s take forgiveness a step further… I am also able to forgive myself for things that I have done and ask for forgiveness from others when I wronged them as well! This too, is self-love. This forgiveness thing is DEEP! Ask God or whatever higher power you believe in to help release the bitterness in your heart, because today is Wednesday September 8, 2021. Let’s celebrate the unofficial holiday called Pardon Day: Forgive and Be Happy. When you start the healing process and move on to forgiving yourself and others, pay attention to how your life transforms. You will start glowing, your blood pressure and cholesterol will normalize, you will start attracting all kinds of blessings! I am a living witness! Reach out to a trusted person if you need support along this forgiveness journey. I promise, the journey is magical and full of love, peace, and glitter. Not the type of annoying glitter that gets stuck to everything, though.