Thursday, November 8, 2012

Forgiveness Is A Four Letter Word

The other day I saw a video of a brief part of interview between Piers Morgan and Tyler Perry.  In the interview Tyler Perry was answering questions about some of the abuse he suffered through at the hands of his father.  I remember when I went to the taping of the Oprah 200 Men episode, we heard directly from Tyler about this abuse and it strongly connected with my own experiences. 

On this segment of the video, Tyler was talking about forgiveness just like he did with the 200 male survivors that day at the Oprah studio.  In his view, if you don’t forgive you allow all of this stuff to stay inside of you and it affects you physically.  It prevents you from moving forward and getting beyond all that was done to you.

I could not agree more with Tyler Perry in his view, but at one time forgiveness was a four letter word to me.  I thought forgiveness meant I was letting that S.O.B. off the hook and there was no way I was going to do that.  I wanted the person(s) that abused me to suffer because I was so angry at what they did and the lingering effects upon my life.  In addition to these things, I was brainwashed by churches as to what forgiveness was all about and so it really screwed up my understanding.

Now, I have really started to understand and learn in life that forgiveness has nothing to do with letting the abuser off the hook.  Yes, sometimes the process leads to understanding what caused the abuser to do what they did.  It is not about denying the anger you have towards the abuser because the anger is part of the healing process, that helps you to move forward if you allow it to do this.  Forgiveness is about letting go of what was done to you and realizing the past could not be any different than it was.  You have no way to go back and change the past, but you have the opportunity to make your future all that it can be.

Instead of forgiveness being a four letter word, it can transform your life and help you heal, but keep in mind that you are doing it for yourself and in your time.  It is not something you need to do because a church brainwashes you to that effect.  It is not something you do because someone in your family or circle of friends is uncomfortable by the abuse and so they push you to move on by forgiving.  It has nothing to do with anyone dictating to you when this process should happen and generally it does not take place overnight.  It is a process.  It takes time.

I have also seen many people claim that they have forgiven their abusers when you can see through the evidence of their life that they are still carrying it along each day they exist.  Sometimes we want to avoid the unpleasantness of our past experiences, but keep in mind that avoidance is not the same thing as forgiveness.  Sometimes we have to take a rest and avoid what we remember happened to us for the sake of our sanity.  Just don’t fall into the trap of proclaiming you have forgiven everyone when that may not necessarily be the case.  Be honest with yourself and embrace consciousness and awareness, not an escape from reality.  You will get much further in your healing if you are honest with what is really going on in your life.

An additional note on forgiveness is that when you get to the point where you can mouth the words I forgive and what happened to you is no longer is a four letter word, then you need to focus on the body as well.  Forgiveness needs to happen within the body, because if it is only a mental exercise, it is still taking up residence within your cells.  This process is not always as quick and sometimes it takes a lot of hard work to really let go and release these things.  Words and mental images, thoughts or concepts are not enough because everything that was done to us emotionally resides in our cells.  Until we have cleaned out the emotional cells and memories in our physical body, we are giving residence to these things.

In all of this, it is important to know that your process is the one you need to follow.  Don’t try to follow what someone else does because you think you have to do this in the way someone thinks it should be done.  It is all up to you in your own pace and your own time.  Your process of healing, discovery and forgiveness is unique to you and done in your own time.  No one can dictate the pace of it and no one can keep you from going through your healing.

In time, you will get there if you keep putting one foot in front of the other.  In time, you will be able to go from seeing forgiveness as a four letter word to that of moving beyond all that you endured.  It takes great courage and strength to do this, but if you have made it this far, you have what you need inside of it.  Embrace it, celebrate it and find it!

Blog Post And Images (c) 10/24/12 by Don Shetterly

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