A lesson in forgiveness.
I wish I could say it is easy.
I wish I could say it is enjoyable
I wish I could say it is comfortable.
But I can say it is beneficial.
Forgiveness is a tricky thing. And offense is, too. It’s like a trap waiting to catch the weakest. Nobody likes to be told they’re wrong and, in the same vein, no one likes to admit it. Sure, we’ve all had our share of offenses (believe me) and if you haven’t, just wait. You know, the people who offend us most are those closest to us. If an offense isn’t taken care of it gives birth to unforgiveness. Which explains why there are so many women stalking their exes Instagram, children estranged from families and daughters giving fathers no chance to be in their lives.
At some point or another, everyone deals with this: to forgive or not to forgive. Maybe we choose not to because we don’t want the other person getting satisfaction or maybe they’ll magically become a better person if we choose to forgive them. You know that person you hate to see succeed? That, my friend, is unforgiveness. Honestly, forgiving is NOT for the other person, it is for you. The other party will not get any satisfaction from it but you will.
I know what you’re thinking: but, Shanisha, you don’t know what they did to me! And maybe I don’t but I do know what forgiveness does. And forgiving well is definitely a characteristic you want in your heart.
Forgiveness Is A Process
The thing about forgiving well is it’s a process. It will take time. Everyone’s will be different.
I can probably count on one hand the number of times my father said, I love you. And I can count on that same hand how many important milestones he’s been there to support me in. And this is not to talk down about my father or make him out to be a bad person its just a fact I know many daughters can relate.
Growing up, I started noticing, in entertainment and through friends, how fathers were involved in their daughters’ lives, how much they loved them or were at least present. And that all was foreign to me. I hadn’t noticed a deficit until others pointed it out, so to speak.
I was doing things out of my character trying to find my character and until I connected the dots (found the root), I discovered it was a void a father figure was supposed to fill. So then, I got mad. I felt deprived of something all the cool kids had like I was the last one picked to join a team.
I let him know how I felt in passive ways. I would bad mouth him with my friends, harbor negative thoughts, which turned into negative feelings, about him. And I thought everything was perfectly okay. I refused to speak to him and made a joke about it calling him a sperm donor because a father who loved her daughter couldn’t possibly treat me as bad as he had.
I justified my speech about him. I blamed him for my state of being. But deep down, under all that self-righteousness, was a little girl yearning for (needing) the love of her father. Which was his first, and paramount, offense.
My process was difficult, messy, kissed with highs and crippled by lows. And though I haven’t completely forgiven my father, I know resentment, mistrust, anger, and insecurities no longer bother me. It took a lot of time and A LOT of prayer.
Forgiveness Is A Choice
Once I acknowledged my feelings – the negativity and anger, I knew it had to change.
I sat down to an impromptu visit with my father a few weeks ago. All smiles and laughs, no one would ever believe I used to loathe his very presence. A really craved a healthy relationship with the man who aided in my birth so I made steps to do so. At first, I felt like I was giving up in the silent fight to give him what he gave me; make him hurt as much as I had. But now I make it known to him how I feel by telling him (a healthy form of communication). I realize making him suffer wouldn’t change anything. And maybe a feeling of satisfaction would come but how long would it last? It’s a never-ending cycle of suffering. I don’t want to be another link in that change.
So, I made a choice to forgive well, daily.
Forgiveness Breeds Healing
Healing is a huge part of forgiveness.
I refused to let myself become hurt by my father because I realized he didn’t know how to be my father. That simple fact opened up the door to healing. He may never be the father I want him to be but he is making strides to become a better human being. My visit ended with a bear hug and a kiss on my cheek – totally different from what our visits used to look like. When I first began visiting my father I questioned why I was there in the first place then I remembered I was there for myself not for him– to gain freedom and, as a result, heal. The conversation was usually menial, we covered things from family and friends to jobs and favorite foods. As time went on I let go of what I knew about my father in the past (which wasn’t much) and how he hurt me (which was much) and eventually a sense of peace flooded my heart and healing took place. That’s not to say I completely forgot about what my father did to me but I don’t hold him to his past actions anymore. And though, he’s never said the words I’m sorry (I don’t know if he ever will), I don’t expect him to. I stopped holding him to my expectations and just let him live. I have prepared myself for that upfront and choose to let him be human.
I don’t know who may be in need of forgiveness today. Maybe it’s a friend who cut you with her words, a boss who made you feel small, or maybe you’re like me and need to let go of the weight holding you back from freedom in relationship with your father. Whether the offense was immense or insignificant I encourage you not to let it fester, begin the process and reap its benefits. No one is above offense and everyone deserves a little grace.
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