by Tales of 2Timothy1.7
Let’s start with a little confession: When I first started this blog a few years ago, I fully intended for it to be a fashion and lifestyle blog where I would talk about fancy shoes, beautiful clothes and lovely places. But what I have noticed the past few months is that the Creator of all things is taking me towards more complex and deeper concepts than I intended to. At first I was filled with doubt, but more and more I realise that I need to trust Him, not just in some parts of my life but in every part of it. I have to trust and have faith that He who created me, He who knew me even before He formed me in my mother’s womb has indeed better plans for me than I could make for myself.
So here is one of my most vulnerable concepts. Which I would rather skip, but I know that sharing this will help others in their journey to restauration and so le’t’s do this.
When I was young my sister and I moved from the South to the Western world. Our father wanted to give us a better education and thus sent us there. But once there the person who was supposed to take care of us, physically and mentally abused us. Mentally this happened by insulting us and saying the kind of things a child should never hear and phisically by beating and hitting us, pushing us against the wall and so on. It was a harsh time that lasted for too many years. The results of this was an inferiority complex and a negative self image which ofcourse affects every area of one’s life. It took a lot of reading, praying, studying and love from the right people to pull me from that dark past into the woman I am today.
For any child, growing up in this situation and trying to find help is tough, but for someone with our cultural background this is double the case.
I remember one day the person had hit us so much that my sister had a swollen eye. This didn’t happen often because that person made sure that there were no visible scars left so that there would be no proof, but this time there was no denying it. The next day we woke up, I noticed that my sister’s eye was even more swollen and she could barely see with that eye. After that person went off to work; my sister and I got dressesd and went off to school. When we came back from school I asked her what her teacher had said about her eye. To which she answered: “Nothing, I told her that I fell from the stairs”.
There I was,in my early teenage years, feeling more helpless than I’ve ever felt. Where my heart was broken, at that moment, it completely scattered.
My sister was even younger than I was; I was emotional, I would cry, I would pray and write endless “letters to G-d” explaining all that had happened and bigging for help and for G-d to send someone to save us. But my sister, I am not sure how she cooped with all what happened. I think that she was much better in blocking things off than I was. I was her older sister and wished I knew a way to protect her from harm.
This lasted a few more years. I won’t go into the details right now as this is not the right time (I don’t think there’ll ever be) or place to talk about this. But what I want to talk about is forgiveness.
I was in my last year of high school, had already moved out of there and my sister too. It weighed heavy on me but deep down I felt the urge to forgive. You need to know that since that began and untill that day I had been carrying the pain I felt inside while trying to navigate my faith.
There was so much pain in me that happiness only seemed like a fleeting moment, joy seemed like a surreal concept and love well that was a made up human ideology that didn’t really exist, so I thought.
But G-d. Let me say it again, But G-d!
He broke down the walls of my pain and resentment that I had built around me over the course of the years and gently encouraged me to forgive the one who had spoiled my child hood, the one who turned my innocense into despair and filled my formative years with scars that I spent years trying to heal.
So on my last day of high school, after receiving my Diploma I sent this message:
“Today I graduated from High School and got my Diploma. I want to thank you, because thanks to you I was able to graduate here (this person had paid for our school for the first few years when we arrived). I Forgive you for the pain and hurt you have caused me all these years. It has taken me a long time but today I forgive you for everything and let go of all the anger and resentment that I had towards you.” I wrote this down and pressed sent. This person never replied to my message, but would briefly appologise many years later…
But saying those few lines and declaring that I had forgiven someone who had caused me so much pain released me from the heavy weight I had been carrying my whole life. I finnaly managed to forgive and let go. Although the words were said, it took some time to truly let go and heal. But once I was ready to forgive, the healing began.
Whenever my mind would wonder off to the scars of the past I would remind myself that I forgive and let go of all the anger and resentment I had towards that person and wish them the very best in the name of Jesus Christ. Over the course of the years, G-d turned my anger into an unconditional love for others, my resentment to endless compassion and my pain to a fervent determination to seek justice wherever I saw the opposite.
It’s funny because I used to think that everyone in their lives have to endure hardship at some point and beacuse I had been through it in my youth the rest of my life would be all sunshine. But that wasn’t exactly the case.
Having been raised in a broken home by someone who may have meant it well, but because they didn’t know Christ, when things got rough, they let the enemy use them to harm the most vulnerable who were put at their mercy; I had to educate my self on all levels concerning life. I had to erase the pain and fear I felt and learn how to love myself and love others properly.
Life thought me some tough lessons when it comes to forgiveness.
Fast forward a few years back, I had been attending this church, had been there just a couple of times when the pastor asked me to attend their bible study as well. Not sure how it happened but after two or three times I shared a message about forgiveness and the pastor and his wife asked me to share this with their congregation on a Sunday morning.
So Sunday came, he briefly introduced me and then there I was, in my early twenties, standing in front of a pulpit with shaking hands and knees. Having grown up in a household where I was told the kind of things that a child should never hear, my confidence must have been not much bigger than the size of a musterd seed. But then this man and his wife trusted me to speak in front of their congregation, from whom many were much older than I was; and so I began and shared the importance of forgiveness. Ofcourse I didn’t speak about my childhood story, the scars were still too pril, but explained with other examples. I was quiete nervous in the beginning but as I started speaking a calmth came over me and I was able to share the entire story and everyone listened till the end. Just like that I gave one of my very first public speaking and fulfilled the bible prophesy that says what the enemy meant for evil G-d will use if for your GOoD. Genesis 50.20
So now as I was going to a new wave of people that I trusted turning their back on me and hurting me, I found myself crying on to G-d: Why? Why me? Why this? And although I haven’t received any answer. I felt deeply that I had to forgive. It’s tough for a human understanding to grasp the concept of forgiveness when you are in the middle of despair. One part of you (probably the smaller part) is holding on to the higher wisdom that claims that everything is going to be alright and that this too shall pass. Whilst the other part of you is ready to throw in the towel declaring that it can no longer handle all this.
But G-d. In the midst of all this comes and meets me in my sorrow and ask me to talk about forgiveness.
When Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive He didn’t say, one or to or atleast five times. He stated the inhumane number of seventy times seven, Matthew 18. 21-22. We as humans would say; “you’ve hurt me once or twice that’s enough; now bye!” But the son of G-d says add to it 70×7. I always thought that was way too much untill I realised that this number wasn’t as much for others as it was for ourselves. This is the number of times the Creator of all things is willing to forgive us as long as we repent and ask for forgiveness. Because we are the ones that break G-d’s law by skipping the Sabbath, or using Jesus’ name in vain, or hating those who have done us wrong or … (add to it your own pile) but these are sins that we commit throughout our life, but Grace is willing to forgive us whenever we ask for it and are willing to turn back to G-d. That is why we ourselves need to forgive first. Because only when we forgive others can G-d forgive us; non forgiveness holds back all the good gifts that the Creator has for us, Ephisians 4. 31-32.
Let me give you an example:
Imagine you’re working for a great boss. Everyday you come to work and do your very best. But there are people in your office that say bad things about you so you decide to not speak to them. The next month again you do your very best but then someone hurt you and you decide that you wont speak to them either. This happens a few more times and then it’s time for promotion. Your boss sees that you’ve been delivering great work and would like to promote you to manager but noticed that you are not speaking to a few of your colleagues. Well he will say I can’t promote you because I can’t make you a manager if you are not speaking to some of your colleagues. Therefore you need to first of all forgive those people, sort it out before you can rise to a higher position and that is exactly how it goes in life. No matter how great or how hard the pain is, as long as you don’t let it go and forgive, the Creator of all things will not be able to put you to a higher place because you are still holding on to the past.
I once heard a story of a teacher who at the beginning of the year asked her students to bring a potato for every person who had ever hurt them. Some children brought one or to potatoes, and others brought more. Then she told them: For the rest of the week I want you to carry that potato with you everywhere you go. If you go for dinner take it with you, if you go to the bathroom take it with you, if you go to sleep make sure you have it with you.
At the end of the week she asked them, now how did it feel to carry these potatoes around? They all said that it wasn’t pleasant, that it was heavy and it restricted them in what they wanted to do. To which she said, that is exactly what happens when you don’t forgive. You carry with you that burden everywhere you go and the person who hurt you might not even know about it. So it is important to forgive and let go.
We are in a time where the enemy will use those around us to hurt us and create desruption, disunity and all kind of negative emotions. We all know that the enemy comes to -(John 10.10). So it is important for us to guard our hearts, and remind ourselves that we are the children of G-d and we need to live by his examples and obey his law even if the world is turning upside down.
Forgiving takes us out of the pit of pain, anger and resentment and lifts us higher, to a place where we can heal and create the space to receive the blessings that the Creator has for our lives. Mark 11-25. So I encourage you today, if there is anything that someone did to you and you are still holding on to it, go and forgive; let it go so that the Creator of all things can open up the windows of heaven and poor down His blessings up on you.