Forgiveness & Growing Gracefully

 

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I’ve always told others that I look forward to growing older but now that I am growing closer to middle adulthood, I started posing this question to myself, “Am I gracefully maturing as I age?” I started wondering if I was maturing like I’d like to or am I just allowing time to work its magic on my black hair that has all of a sudden been turning grey this year, by the way. I thought I was until a few years ago, my answer became a huge “No”! I say this because a few years ago, I was forced to deal with some childhood trauma that surfaced in my adult life. Side bar: The interesting thing about trauma is that it can be suppressed deep down in your subconscious self for many years, then one day, a situation comes along that unlocks those unwanted feelings you’ve buried most of your life and your faced with either reacting to them or confronting them. If we don’t deal with the trauma that surfaces in our lives, I don’t care how “dressed up” or “put together” we make ourselves, we are not walking in wholeness and can not present to the world the best version of ourselves! And this is where I found myself. So, I chose to confront my demons. I began looking over my life and examining things from my younger life that has been a hindrance to in my adulthood and I realized that I needed to start doing the work.

Truth is, I’ve been thinking about this now more than ever because I have four beautiful children to raise and I keep seeing myself through them, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. I see good things that I have instilled in them that will make them stronger and effective in life, I also see some characteristics of my quirky personality that have carried over into their individual lives. However, when I see my children, they also reflect back to me in some ways, things I lack or am weak in. Recognizing the fact that my children are a product of who I am and to some degree, a representation of my brokenness just as much as they are an illustration of my feats, caused me to make it my mission to learn how to grow in a healthy way as I age so that I can offer my children (and others I effect) the best version of myself. I began doing this by first learning how to address my past from a posture of forgiveness.

When I first began this journey, I looked back at those who I felt owed me for the things I lacked or silently suffered from. But this obviously kept me in tremendous bondage because no matter how much blaming I did, time could not be rewound. However, learning the true art of forgiveness helped me to see that when I truly forgive it provides me with benefits that helps me to move on such as:

  • Healthier relationships.
  • Improved mental health.
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
  • Fewer symptoms of depression.
  • Improved self-esteem.
  • and other health improvements.

Forgiveness may seem like a common sense concept, especially in the Christian world, but believe it or not, there are a lot of people who don’t know how to forgive. When someone tells a traumatized or emotionally wounded person, “You just need to forgive so you can move on”, they make it seem like forgiveness is a concrete object that can erase an emotional problem. This is why there are many how-to books related to the topic of forgiveness. I truly believe that many people want more than anything to forgive and move one from past traumas but simply don’t know how. For me, I’ve always been told to just “let it go” but it took me years to actually learn how. For such a long time I believed that when you have truly forgiven someone, you don’t feel emotional pain from the offense but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! It it possible for us to forgive but still hurt! I know that the Bible emphasizes the need for us to forgive those who have wronged us but we need to place just as much emphasis on the process of forgiveness  which involves relinquishing the offender from the debt owed and learning to let go of emotional wounds so that we can truly be free to move on. Forgiveness is one thing but being healed from the pain of the offense is a whole other procedure that’s needed for our growth.

Unforgiveness keeps us in a posture that victimizes us even after the offense has taken place. Once we have mastered the art of forgiveness, we can then start the process of reflecting back on our lives in a more positive way which comes from a place of ownership (which is also part of the process of forgiveness). For this process, I am defining ownership as a posture of recognizing that moving forward requires me to release my debtor so that I can regain ownership of myself hence, moving forward in responsibility for myself (my actions, my thinking, my feeling). As a result, when we reflect back on areas of our lives that need healing or restoration, we are simply going back to that moment in life to reflect on what was needed for that time that may be affecting us in our present self. Once we have identified what we lacked, we can then move on to the next process which involves seeking provision in order to fulfill what we are lacking within our adult selves. This part of the process involves us taking full responsibility for self (because once we have forgiven, we no longer look to the offender or others to repair us). This is part of the process where we force ourselves to look at how things are still affecting us, then look at what we need to do to bring change into our lives.

With all of this being said, I wanted to invite those of you who have found yourself on a similar path and want to move forward in life with grace, confidence and everything else we need to reach our authentic selves. Here is a link to the introduction of my journey and please feel free to comments and share how you are moving forward in life through forgiveness and aging gracefully!

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Feelings of Unworthiness/Undeserving

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I was having a conversation on the phone the other day with a precious sister in the Lord. As we were making small talk, I reminded her that she and I share the same birthday month, and we wanted to know each other’s plans. I of course, have been thinking for months on what I want to do for my birthday so, without uncertainty, I effortlessly let her know that my plans consisted of me, spending a little time away in a serene environment so that I can relax by myself. I then returned the question to find out what her plans were. She too, need not any time contemplating her answer though her response was quite different. She quickly replied, “You know what, I try to forget my birthday! I don’t celebrate my birthday, I haven’t celebrated it in years, and it doesn’t exist to me anymore… I’ve just kind of done away with it…!” I can remember hearing the shame, guilt and self-condemnation in her voice as she justified her choice to not celebrate. I believe she heard it too as she followed up with the question, “Is that a bad thing?

Not wanting to celebrate birthdays is not abnormal. There are many cultures and religions who choose not to partake in the revel of birthdays or other occasions one might consider to be special. So, her not wanting to celebrate her birthday was not a concern for me rather it was her reasoning behind why she chose not to celebrate. She went on to explain that she chose to denounce her birthday because of the bad memories that were associated with it. As a result, her way of resolving (by that I mean suppressing) the continuous internal conflict that transpired every year when her birthday came around, was to simply refuse to acknowledge the day she was born- which is a strategy we all use when we don’t know how to resolve, cope or confront past issues in our lives. After she explained to me her reasoning, we both chuckled because I completely understood where she came from and it was tickling to admit our truths out loud to one another. Being that I received a clearer reason for her not celebrating her birthday, I felt compelled to ask her if I could celebrate her. She allowed me to make arrangements even though she did not feel deserving or worthy of God’s goodness. Since I could relate to her, I shared my testimony of how God showed me that although I did not deserve his goodness, He thought I was worthy of Him expressing his goodness towards.

We All Have Times Where We Feel Unworthy, Or Undeserving

Truth is, we all will face a time where our lives will prove that we are undeserving of God’s goodness. Because we all have fallen short and failed to meet His expectations of righteousness, we don’t deserve to experience His love, grace or mercy. This is the main reason why Christ suffered and died in our stead- because we could not pay the price ourselves. The thing that’s worse than us constantly condemning ourselves, is that the enemy will help us remember the fact that we don’t deserve anything good from God, while allotting even more time trying to convince us that we are also unworthy of any good thing from God and that we have lost our value to Him and therefore, an insignificant being.  Although it’s healthy for us to know that we are not deserving of God’s goodness (so that we won’t boast in our own self-righteousness), God has proven throughout Scripture that we ARE worthy of his goodness!

We ARE Worthy Of God’s Goodness!

When I think of being undeserving yet worthy, I immediately think of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). This story is about a loving father who had two sons- one of which made wasteful and foolish decisions with his inheritance which left him destitute and seemingly worthless. He went back to his father’s house to plead for his father’s forgiveness and to come back as a slave. Instead the father overwhelmed him with hugs and kisses, called for his servants to dress him in a fine robe, a ring, sandals, and to prepare a feast. The prodigal son knew he didn’t deserve to be brought back in his father’s house as a son, so he hoped for a position as a slave. However, his father declared that he was worth more to him than a slave. This story reminds us that God found worth in us even when we don’t see it in ourselves! Scripture says,

 

“For our sake, he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor. 5:21)

 

The word “sake” means that it was for our benefit or advantage that Christ became a sin offering for mankind. The God Almighty has a special interest in us that is so significant, he chose to sacrifice his only begotten son in order to preserve us. Are you feeling worth anything yet? In another passage it says,

 

 “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet…” (Psalms 8:4-6)

 

We are but earthen vessels, made lower than angels yet our Heavenly Father saw fit to crown us with glory and honor. Not only that but He made us rulers over the works of His hands and put everything under our feet! I know you’ve got to feel like you’re a little bit worth something now?!

Sometimes it takes a while to get use to the fact that we are undeserving yet worthy of God’s goodness. No matter what we’ve gone through and no matter how far we’ve fallen, He loves us and we are valuable to Him!

 

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Ridding the Tartar of Mistrust

I don’t hear ver many people talk about the spirit of gossip but it is just as deadly as any other sin we engage in. A must read!

Jodie Dye

Spiritual Gingivitis is when someone gossips, they are usually inflamed with a desire to spread the germs, or spread the news so to speak. Gingivitis is an infection that destroys the tissue that support the teeth. Likewise, gossip is an infection that destroys the support system that you have. It ruins and separates close friendships.

The cure is a deep cleansing of God’s Word in your mouth. God, in His beauty, is so very trustworthy, and He wants to exchange the spirit of gossip in us and make us trustworthy like Him.

Tartar of mistrust.

You know that you have this condition if others feel comfortable about approaching you about others.

My poor spiritual oral hygiene was exposed once when a friend approached me about breaking a confidence. I call it the tartar of mistrust. My heart was exposed; I realized that this was an area in which I needed a deep…

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Blackheads of Bitterness

This is one of my favorite spiritual beauty treatments to hear about!
#Dont Boast or deny the truth

Jodie Dye

We all have them. The stubborn, annoying, unwanted little demons otherwise named as blackheads. The development of blackheads and how to get rid of them are not well known. However, we do know they clog up the pores, and they multiply rather quickly.

As a creative writer I like to contrast the outer with the inner. Isn’t it crazy how we can also see a connection to the heart with blackheads? I think of bitterness as a blackhead that can literally clog up our spirit man. Not only that, but the Bible says in Hebrews 12:15 that a bitter root in someone’s heart can grow up to defile many. Bitterness has the potential to corrupt everyone around you.

And just like blackheads, we can all struggle with bitterness. Just when you think you got rid of bitterness, someone cuts you off in the other lane and love is NOT what…

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