Spiritual Healing Article:
By Shannon Malaka 2017
Understanding the hurt behind the words, 'I'm sorry'.
Shannon Malaka copyright 2017
Original version 2015 Revised version 2017
Forgiveness is not an easy thing to come by. It seems that as much as we want to let go of the hurt and pain caused by being wronged, instinct dictates an alternate path. It is easier to defend who we are through acts of vengeance to enable us to feel vindicated than to just ‘let it go’. If only they knew what it feels like then maybe they wouldn’t have is what our hearts repeat like a record stuck in its grove. If vengeance doesn’t take hold then self pity sure will and that’s a retreat filled with loneliness and grief, as we allow our tears to lap up our bleeding wounds.
Forgiveness is a choice that we make. However that choice must come from a genuine desire to let go of the anger from within the heart. To forgive any other way cannot please God. I did this. In my forgiveness I spoke from a mindful observance to please God. I knew that forgiveness was the right thing to do, but with anger still gripping my heart I understood very little that it was something that I should want to do, God showed me the difference.
I admit I wanted the pain to stop. I was hoping that if I spoke the words of forgiveness I assumed God needed to hear, and then He would just make the pain go away. Instead, as I sat in prayer, crying and pouring my heart out to Him, God showed me a gathering of people. They formed a circle and as I was among them, holding hands with someone. The space on one side of me was empty; the circle was missing one person. Instantly I knew who was missing as this place was meant for the person who had betrayed me. I became so sad, wanting her to be beside me and be among the group. They were missing out on all the fun, and suddenly I realized where I was and where they were not; heaven.
At that realization, God then spoke, ‘Either they come here, or go somewhere else.”
Floods of love filled my heart and I forgot my pain. It did not matter in that moment what they had done, what mattered was that they would be found in this place. Nothing else mattered. I did not care about the betrayal and because I was so worried for their life, it was if the betrayal never happened. I knew that it did, but the feeling no longer existed.
I began to cry and weep for them, out of love for I understood that this person could never understand from my perspective, and like I could not understand from God’s perspective. We all fall so very short of one another and of God and forgiveness allows us to ignore those shortcomings because we are so far from perfect.
After God showed me the depth to forgiveness, I did speak forgiveness, but not out of turn because that day was the day I allowed Him to begin working on me to help me live a life of forgiveness and feel it instead of just knowing it.
Forgiveness is a work in progress as it is a healing process
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew5: 44
Betrayal is a type of persecution and because of the wrong doing, those we love set out to make us their enemies, either purposefully, or not. To love someone unconditionally is to forget the pain and anger that they have caused because anger reveals to us a little something (or a lot) about ourselves.
When God presented me among a circle of friends, and there remained an empty space, that empty space that my friend’s presence did not occupy was because of me. My love for this person was replaced by anger, and where there is anger; there is judgement. In my judgement I was suggesting that they were not worthy to accompany me to heaven, but how much better was I than they? God showed me in a flash the instances where I betrayed those I cared about and who deeply cared about me, and yet God was willing to forgive me.
“This is where your unforgiveness lies.” Is the last thing God spoke to me in that moment as the circle of friends faded, I began to weep in humbleness before Him. Clearly God had a lot of work to do in me as we are called His jars of clay for a reason.
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” Romans 12:3
Harboring anger and resentment towards another through unforgiveness places you emotionally higher than the other person because anger tries to justify your feelings of entitlement. While we may have every right to feel a certain way towards another person, bitterness only serves to feed the ego as judgment only serves to condemn you before God instead of condemning the other man before you.
Forgiveness allows you to think of yourself the way God thinks of you. To understand who you are as a child of God gives you all the entitlement in the world and enables you to not allow someone else’s opinions about who they think you are dictate your way of emotional well being. We are all responsible for our actions and reactions in life, and no one can hurt you unless you allow them to. To allow someone the opportunity to scar you emotionally reflects exactly how you secretly see yourself as the betrayal acts as a mirror.
Betrayal only betrays our emotions that we try to hide, and anger only tries to put things back in their proper place as offense suggests that it is not we who need to change, that we are fine just the way we are. Sometimes forgiving is that complicated.
In order to work through my own willingness to forgive, God had to take me along a journey of my past to show me the areas where the betrayal mirrored things I had tried to forget. It turned out that while there were specific patterns of betrayal that mirrored one another, I was also able to see the pattern in myself where I allowed one betrayal after another by repeating what had been done to me. I was guilty and more than I had realized. Once I could recognize the patterns of the past, I could change the patterns of the future and this allowed me to accept the things I couldn’t change, and accept that I needed to change.
“God why do you love me?” Is what I asked God one day in prayer…
"I love you not for who you are but who you are to become. I love you not only because I created you but who I am creating. Your past was meant for growth, you have learned from it. Without change there is no growth, without growth I cannot prepare you for the journey ahead. Once you finally give up control, I can begin. "
Forgiveness is a means to put an end to anger. Where there is anger we are cautioned to be careful not to sin. Sin is what separates us from God, and before we can recognize the sin in others, we must first recognize it in ourselves. When we forgive others, we can understand the forgiveness God has for us. His forgiveness pardons us from our wrong doings, so that we should not partake in them again. Sometimes forgiveness does not grant us the opportunity to renew a relationship and begin again, it is in those times forgiveness means to let go and move on.