“I’ll never let them get that close to hurt me again.” I uttered such words in moments where I pieced the broken fragments of my heart back together. I spoke in absolutes. No one in their correct mind would allow themselves to be vulnerable to the same force that crushed them once before. I vowed that I wouldn’t…then God allowed me to forgive.
Preface: This will not be for everyone.
Forgive – for·give \ fər-ˈgiv , fȯr- \(verb)
- to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)
- to give up resentment of or claim to requital
Chapter 29 taught me how to forgive. I learned self-examination, self-acceptance, and even responsibility (that I am not always the victim), but one of the greatest lessons learned was forgiveness. You’ve followed my journey. At the rock bottom of my life, the beginning portions of 2017, I seemingly lost everything. What hurt worse than the material things, status, and pride that took a blow was the loss of my closest friendships and relationships. In one or two fail swoops, some of my ride or dies died off (figuratively). That were some of the most painful breaths that I ever took. To know me is to know that I love love in all of its forms. I value friendships and relationships. If you are “mine” I will protect you even if it hurts me. I will pour all that I have into what we have because I honor it so much. And when it comes to separation, I can’t easily cut people off like a dead tree limb. Even those who should be my enemy have a direct line to my heart, and the ending of our thing is subject to a process of disconnection. Even if we immediately end contact and communication, it is a step-by-step journey to begin turning my heart from you.
Then I learned how to forgive.
Up until the moment when I began my God-assigned forgiveness journey, I was convinced I knew the formula.
In all honesty, there were several times that I didn’t truly forgive my offenders, I merely separated from them. After learning how to and successfully forgiving a few individuals, I discovered that I was missing an element in my formula.
Fine, I could forgive. It took God’s help, but I could forgive. I learned how to not hold my offenders to what they did, to see my faults in the situations, and even let go of my feelings. …I don’t hold grudges, I hold feelings. A part of this entailed me renouncing the “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget,” notion. If found that as I continued to remember, as in dwell, on what was done to me, I wasn’t able to control the rise of and submission to my feelings. So I forgave and, in essence, forgot. That was it right? “And they lived happily ever after…individually?” No?
I discovered that I was still missing a step. Now I know I already lost some of you at the point where you had to do more than just separate but forgive. Then I had the nerve to say forget. Yeah, some of you have hopped off of my train. I wanted to hop off of my own train, but God wouldn’t let me. Because my life is submitted to his will, I found that God required me to allow for one more thing.
Me: Okay, God. I was nice enough to leave well enough alone and not curse them [out] every chance I got for what they did to me. I forgave as you instructed, and I’ve even forgotten as you helped me to do. Now you want me to have an open heart too? I saaaaid, “I’ll never let them get that close to hurt me again.” Didn’t you hear me when I said that?
God: Completely unbothered
All of that was my introduction. 🙂
Over the last nine months, God has allowed some of the very people who hurt me to come back into my life. Whether prior to their return or induced by their return, God walked me through the process of forgiving them, then in so many words He said, “Now whatchu gone do?” *head tilted to the side* My response was something like, “Nothing!” *head tilted to the side* LOL! As far as I was concerned, I was still stuck on the never letting them get close again part. Chris 101: It takes A LOT for me to be done, but once I’m done, I’m done…I’m done and done! That’s how I felt about each and every person who left a wound on my heart, and this was AFTER I forgave them. TUH!
I had a very good, good, best, sister friend. We went to high school together but our relationship didn’t really bloom until about eight years later, and seemingly overnight, we were besties. We were durn near inseparable. We talked, texted, and video chatted all day long, and whenever we could hang, we hung like two shirts on a line in the sun. That was my boojank. She got me, and I got her. Furthermore, she had me, and I had her. (Catch that difference.) But there were times in our friendship where things got complicated. We would disagree, misunderstand, or somehow lose the balance in the friendship. Because of past experiences, she would retreat to her shell and cut off the world as a defense mechanism whenever she felt outside attack or even internal unrest. I didn’t completely understand that so I didn’t know how to help in those moments beyond reassuring her that I was there for her. Because of my past experience of being strung along and taken advantage of, after a while I’d oblige the silent treatments and one up her with my own cold shoulder. Eventually the unbalance of moments like those coupled with other issues led to the ending of our friendship and the beginning of my process of internal separation. She came to my house on January 1, 2017 right after church for a New’s Breakfast I was hosting. She said was running to WaWa and would be right back. Ultimately she walked out of my life that morning. We attempted to meet up over the next 19 months but to no avail. It was as if we just weren’t compatible anymore. Then last month we exchanged a few well intended messages. We both turned 30 and wanted to send well wishes for hitting such an overwhelming milestone, and conversation shifted to yet another attempt at a moment just for us. And then it happened. Last weekend for the first time since January 1, 2017, me and my former boojank, ace, A1 since day 1 sat down and conversed.
Among the others who have returned to my life in some way, shape, or form, let me also add that I recently made amends with another good, close, sister friend of mine. Life took its toll on us in so many ways…more ways than I have space to share.
After my dinner with my former boojank last Friday, a current friend asked me a relevant question, “So are you all friends again?” I had to take a moment to think before I spoke. In those few seconds, I considered my confession, “I’ll never let them get that close to hurt me again.” Louder than the confession in my head was the nudging in my spirit. I could feel the tug of war between my mindset that kept me from the last step of my process, having an open heart, and this quiet peace that invited me to trust again.
When I finally responded, I simply replied, “I’m open to seeing what happens…”
Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don’t, you will never see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 [Contemporary English Version]
Reconcile – rec·on·cile \ ˈre-kən-ˌsī(-ə)l \ (verb)1 a : to restore to friendship or harmonyb : settle, resolve
I will refer back to my preface: This isn’t for everyone. Let me also say for the record, FORGIVENESS DOES NOT ALWAYS LEAD TO RECONCILIATION. Sometimes it is BEST that there be no reconciliation of the relationship for a myriad of reasons.
“Reconcile” had a few different definitions in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, but I choose to focus on what is written above: to restore friendship or harmony. What stuck out a bit more was the b-clause: to settle, resolve.
I have found that whether reconciliation, as in the restoration to friendship or harmony, is possible or not, it is still my responsibility to reconcile as in settle or resolve.
No worries…I’ll unpack that. In my experience, I found more unrest within myself when I choose to harbor unforgiveness and the associated feelings within my heart. It’s like the saying, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The more I held onto what was done to me or how it made me feel, the more unsettled I was. Even after forgiving, there remained some unresolved feelings that detained me in a state of unrest. When I say that you must have an open heart, that isn’t just so you and your offender can be friends again and run off into the sunset. Again, that sometimes just isn’t possible, healthy, or even safe. That open heart is so that you can settle, resolve, accept. I’d dare say you have to settle or resolve before you can even consider restoring the friendship or harmony. As it relates to my former boojank, I had to accept who both she and I were at the time of our grievances, I had to acknowledge who we have both grown to become, and I had to agree that under different circumstances things could be different. All of that was my resolution.
After resolution, then what? Pray! Pray for discernment.
I will now incorporate the title of this little message… ” Open, Closed, and Locked Doors.”
I have an office with four walls and a door at work. I’m mega excited about that because at my former job, I was in this open cubicle situation. Most days, my door remains open, and people are free to come in at anytime. When I am working on something that requires my undivided attention, I will close my door without looking it. Simply by knocking, one could gain access with my permission. If ever I am having a private conversation with someone or working on something extremely confidential my door is both closed and locked. Opening it requires the outside party to knock, and I have to do the extra work to get up and unlock the door to possibly let them in. There have been instances where I have unlocked and opened the door but stood in the doorway preventing their entrance.
When my former boojank and I were good, the door to my heart was open. When we had our grievances, the door closed. Somewhere in the process of wrestling with forgiveness, I locked the door. And when God instructed me to have an open heart, it was as if I stood and walked to unlock and open the door. Discernment is what will lead me to let her in or not. (Before you run back to her with my story, I’ve already said that I’m open to seeing where this goes.) Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
In this long, jumbled message, I hope you got my point. You have to forgive. It would be behoove you to forget (or detach from the parts of the occurrence that keeps you in bondage and pain). It would be helpful too if you had an open heart. As far as that scripture above… Having an open heart to at least find resolve, even if not for the purpose of restoration, leaves room for peace. Peace with your offender. Peace even with yourself. Y’all, I have found my peace, and I wouldn’t trade it for one grudge in the world. I’ll just keep this open heart, pray for a bunch of discernment, and trust that God won’t let me fall into any traps (unless I just decide to get grown disobey him).
Sorry this was so lengthy.
I hope this helps.