How Do You Forgive?
How do you forgive those that you love for not believing you? How do forgive those who turned their back on you when you needed them the most? How do forgive them when they didn’t ask for forgiveness? Aren’t they supposed to ask for it first so you can be the bigger person?
Well, I found out the hard way that isn’t how it works with Fibromyalgia. That isn’t how it works with RSD/CRPS and that isn’t how it works with abuse. You see you aren’t forgiving people to give them peace and healing. No, you are forgiving people for yourself so that you can start your own healing and move forward. The people you are forgiving don’t even know you have forgiven them and what’s more, they probably don’t even care at this point. You just need to decide where to start. For me, I started with the hardest one, with abuse. I needed help with it and so I asked God.
You see I have a very strange Christian upbringing. For those of you who don’t have faith, just listen through this and I will get through it quickly, I promise. It is different than anything you have ever heard before, I would bet. When I was 4, I got the chickenpox, the measles, and the mumps all in one month. I don’t know how my Mother didn’t go crazy. I remember being completely miserable. I have very good memories back to the age of 2.
When I returned to Sunday School, my teacher told me I was going to ‘hell’ because I had missed a whole month of church! I was 4 for heaven’s sake! I ran out of that room like the ‘hounds of hell’ were at my heels and ran for the sanctuary screaming for Mommy and Daddy! All was quiet. It was right in the middle of silent prayers, of course. ‘Mommy, Daddy! I’m going to ‘Hell!’ I’m going to ‘Hell!’ Quite a shock coming from a hysterical little 4-year old during silent prayer, I’m sure. All I remember, is Daddy running to pick me up and throwing his jacket around me and the minister staring at me from his pulpit high above everyone. In my little mind’s eye, he was the very devil himself. My entire family was there, but I don’t remember any of them, my Grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins. My Grandparents must have been horrified, they were so prim and proper. I would never go back into that church and still won’t unless there is funeral or wedding. It just feels like the door to hell is right inside that Sunday Room door.
So, my Mom said, I would throw a fit every Sunday if they would try to get ready for Church so we stayed home and as people would drive by, I would stand on the doorstep and yell ‘anyone want to play poker.’ She said I told her if I was going to ‘hell’ I didn’t want to go alone.
When I was 6 or 7, my brother and I don’t agree, we moved to a different house. My Mom always put out flowers next to the driveway and I was not allowed to play there. My brother had a pretty large car collection and I was not allowed to play with them. So, one day I was home alone with the babysitter. I went and grabbed the cars and, yep, went to the flower garden and played with the cars. I said outload, it’s not like anyone can see me anyway and I smiled.
Next thing I know, there was a tap on my left shoulder. I looked all around and no one was there, but I had the willies. I continued to play. There was another tap and then I heard ‘but you are wrong little Debbie, because I can see you and you know you are being bad.’ Well dang. I knew who that was.
I grabbed up the cars and straightened out the dirt, went inside the house and washed the cars, and put them away, and went into my room. I sat on my bed and just shook and shook. I was scared to death.
‘So, you won’t go to church.’ No, I whispered, it isn’t safe there. The door to hell is there and I don’t want to go to hell. ‘Okay. Well, how are you going to learn about me?’ I don’t know. I was crying now because I was really scared. I mean wouldn’t you be? ‘Well, then, I guess the Holy Spirit who lives inside you already, has a job to do, if you will listen.’ Oh, I will! I figured if this thing was already inside me, I wouldn’t be so scary, right?
So, that is how my education in my faith began. I started seeing Angels at a young age. If I didn’t understand something that happened, I would ask and I would always get answers immediately.
As I grew and continued my lessons, they were usually after I went to bed and usually lasted 2 hours, they got deeper, but I never opened a Bible. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even get a Bible until after my Divorce started when I was in my 20’s. I finally found a church that preached the way I was taught after Bob and I were married. That is what I needed.
So, what does this have to do with forgiveness? Well, everything. God tells us we are to forgive and that we are not to judge. Well, that is a lot harder to do than it sounds, right? So, I had to ask for help from the one place that I knew always gave me help when I needed it. God.
I thought first I better work on forgiving on the abuse because that would be the hardest and then the rest would be the easier. Well I was wrong. There is one I am still having trouble with forgiving.
I was 19 when my first marriage took place. It was too young. I was not grown up and was spoiled and didn’t realize that what I felt was not true love. I didn’t realize that the way I was being treated was not the way a man treated a woman. I didn’t think I would ever have any other man have interest in me because I only had one guy ask me for a date in High School besides my ex and he was … well not worth mentioning. Thanks to my Brother, no one else asked me out, but I didn’t know that until after the marriage was over. It would have been helpful to know that beforehand.
When I sat and really thought about everything that had created the circumstances of that twisted married life, I realized it couldn’t have ended any other way. My ex needed extreme counseling and he wouldn’t do it for me. He finally did it for his 2nd wife. What we went through was bound to happen because of his background and when I understood that, with the help of God, I had no choice but to forgive him. It was not easy. I had a lot of resentment stored away. Then, there was my baby boy…but I don’t want to go there. That was harder to forgive and I took him out of the situation. However, forgive I did and a big weight was lifted from my shoulders and came boiling out of my chest. I am still amazed by the healing strength that has given me and the anger I feel at his parents for allowing him to go through what he did. That however, is also forgiven as it was a long time ago and they never knew. They thought they were doing what was best for him.
You see, though, he didn’t ask me to forgive him. The forgiveness was for me, for me to heal and move forward.
The next forgiveness was for the church. Even though I didn’t cause the accident, people at my church seemed to blame me for it. They would say things like ‘you know Deb, he is such a nice man and he feels really bad about what happened.’ I would say, ‘is he.’ and ‘does he.’ Then, I would say ‘and I ended up with RSD because he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening on the road.’ There was no support there, no matter how much I begged for it from the Pastors.
Then, very long and hurtful story, One of the Pastors tried to ‘steal’ our daughter from us. Our daughter was a Freshman in College. The Jr. Pastor had convinced our daughter that not only was I being lazy but that I was driving her insane and that our daughter needed to run away from home and turn herself into the psych ward at the hospital before she went completely crazy. We discovered the plot the night before our daughter was going to run away. This is the one I am having trouble forgiving. The next day, I reported this to the head pastor, her boss and husband. He agreed that they, the church had not done well by me. I had asked him why I got no help when I was put on suicide watch twice and we called the church and asked for help and he said nothing. We asked him what he was going to do about his Jr. Pastor acting this way and he said he would talk to her and he would come back that night. I warned our daughter that when he came back, it would not go well because he could not stand up to his wife. When he came back, he said our daughter was lying. I threw him out of the house and told him if he ever came back I would have him arrested for trespassing. No chance there. I never got home visits from either of them. I turned them into the Counsel and they asked me not to go to the Bishop. I wish now that I had. This is the one I have a problem with forgiveness and ask for help with. So far, I have not gotten the help and the anger just seethes within me still. I think that God must be having a problem with this one too.
People and other Pastors ask me why we stayed at that church for so long. Well, I kept trying to forgive the people who did not support me and turned their backs. You expect your church to be there for you, especially your best friend who you have been at her beck and call over the last year and a half before your accident. But no, she turned her back on me and started telling lies about me and was part of destroying our relationship with our daughter. Yes, I have forgiven her. I find it sad though that she could not be as strong a friend as I needed her to be for me, as I was for her.
We didn’t go back to that church until that pair left. However, I never felt right there again. Still, Bob would not leave. No matter, how much I begged he would not leave, so I would not go. The new Pastor would come and visit me though and he would come and give me communion. He would ask why we didn’t leave because he said I wasn’t getting the fellowship I needed. I would say, Bob won’t leave. He didn’t know where we would go. So, when we went to our daughter’s, we would go to her church. I got fellowship there and made friends. Of course, that is 2,500 miles away.
Well, we have moved. Finally, I can go to a church where people who don’t really know me, know I have a problem and give me support both in church and outside of church. This has given me a chance to forgive the other church for their lack of support. Then, I got a surprise the other day, an email. Yes, an email from someone who I didn’t even think knew I was sick. In the email, she said that she was happy that I had found something to help me and she was glad that I was doing what I am doing to bring awareness to this awful disease. She made me feel better and that maybe there were more people aware at that church who knew. Well, anyway, forgiving the church has helped me heal the resentment there as well. The hurt over the lost friendships? They were probably temporary anyway, since we moved. People will come and go in your life. They enter your life for a reason and then they leave for some reason too. You may never know the why fors, just know that there is a reason. It is nothing that you have done. It is just that their time is over. One door has closed, but wait patiently because another door will open and someone new will enter your life. It brings to mind my friend Sheila. Her boyfriend left her and his excuse was because she was too needy. Well, phew. She has Fibromyalgia. A few months later, a wonderful man has entered her life and this man truly loves her. So, some come and some go. Never believe it is your fault. It is just their time.
Then there is the family, right? When I had the accident, it was probably 6 years before my eldest cousin found out about it. What? His mother knew! My second eldest, won’t even talk about it or anything? As a matter of fact, it is something no one is interested in talking about and I am pretty much someone who is persona non-grata in the family on my Dad’s side. They see me coming and they walk away. There are only 2 female cousins, me and one other (she is much younger than I am) and the spouses of my other cousins seem like we are positive ends of a magnet and so won’t talk to me, therefore, it is hard for my cousins to talk to me. I had an aunt and uncle who were like parents to me. They believed me and supported me. My aunt is gone now and my uncle has Alzheimer’s. It hurts, but again, like my female cousin said to me, they are very busy. They live very far from me and they just don’t have time and their lives are very different. Now, my eldest cousin’s wife has Fibro and she is a sweetheart. We are close to them. So, you love them, you forgive them, and you heal. You know they love you, they just don’t want to be around you.
The very hardest person to forgive is yourself, but why? What did you do that caused you to get this disease? Absolutely nothing! What did you do to turn your friends away from you? You got a disease they don’t understand. Was that your fault? No! What did you do that caused your family to not understand you, turn their backs on you, or even disown you? You got a disease they don’t believe in and don’t want to talk about it. Is that your fault? Absolutely Not! Did you wish for this disease? No! Then why are you blaming yourself? If you had an accident, did you do it on purpose? No! Even if you got the ticket, accidents happen! Not every accident causes Fibromyalgia! So, again, why are you blaming yourself? Even if you did cause the accident on purpose, like I said, not every accident causes Fibromyalgia! So, again, why are you blaming yourself? It is time to forgive yourself and begin the healing process! Then it will be time to move to the next step.
You choose the people to trust to tell your troubles to and you hold them close. Since my accident, I have discovered that you can’t choose your family. When I talk about my family, I only talk about one side. I never talk about the other side. However, I do have a very sweet and loveable cousin on the other side who I try to see as often as is possible. She has had Fibromyalgia for years. I’d say over 30 years and also TMJ and I don’t know what else. She has had to suffer pretty much in silence because she lives in a small town. She has had little support. When she found out I had RSD, she came to the Twin Cities for a visit when we were there to see if that was what she had, but it wasn’t. So, Susi if you read this, I miss you and I love you. She is absolutely beautiful.
However, since my accident, I have also discovered you create a new family from the friends and family you choose to hold close and trust. You can only create this, however, once you have given over your anger to God and after you have forgiven all of those who hold responsible for hurting you so badly. You can only start healing and move on emotionally once you forgive, especially yourself.
I am not saying it is going to be easy! Believe me! It is not! However, now that I have been released from all that hatred, I am at peace. As far as the Pastor’s, I guess in a way, I must have forgiven them some. I can hear their names now without wanting to throw up or walking out of the room. If they walk into a room now, I don’t walk out, but I will never voluntarily talk to them or listen to them preach again.
Forgiveness has to come from your heart. My daughter-in-law asked me one time how I could forgive her so easily. I told her plain and simple, because I love you. Just please, get yourself under control because I do have a breaking point.
You all have so much love in your hearts. I know because you show it every day. Love is a big part of forgiveness. Love yourselves. You are very worth loving!