When Letting Go Is Actually Holding On
This post is being submitted way past its due date. I’m not sure why, I have no excuse. What I do have is a sort of professionalism when it comes to forgiveness. Professional not in the way that I have perfected forgiveness, my path to it is not always a pretty one, but in the way that I’ve had to forgive a lot of people. Most of whom never admitted the wrong so in turn never even cared if they were forgiven.
When I was five my step father was abusing me physically. It was so bad that one day he frightened me to the point of peeing myself as I stood in front of him. He told me to lick it off the floor. Shortly thereafter, I found myself on a plane from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to “visit” my grandparents.
In the summer of 1978 I arrived there and in the three years following my grandmother’s husband had started to sexually abuse me. In 1982 he died of cancer. Their home was not one of love and affirmation. My whole upbringing I was told over and over again that I was a failure in one way or another. I was physically, mentally and emotionally abused by most of my grandmother’s children. Not all but most.
Most of those 12 years were spent planning my eventual “release” and in October 1990, a week before I turned 18, I met a really hot guy and a week later moved in with him. Little did I know then what a mistake that would be. I soon found out that the apartment he was living in was his girlfriend’s (yikes) and so was the car he was driving. But I wasn’t living at home anymore so I made it work. They obviously broke up and so our life began.
A few months short of five years with this man, a marriage and two kids, many, many affairs and quite a bit of physical and mental abuse, on August 29, 1995 at around 2:30 in the morning, my husband took his last breath in our living room. The autopsy concluded a “spontaneous cardiac arrhythmia”. I was 22, he was 24. I had a toddler and a newborn.
In May of 1996 my brother, Michael, whom I had not seen since being that little girl peeing on the floor, came all the way from Texas (where our mother eventually ended up after giving me away). It had been 18 years since I’d seen my brother and the moment he stepped off the bus, it was like no time had passed. We spent the next 13 years making a ton of memories until he passed away in September 2009. He was my best friend. I loved him so much and miss him every day.
Since the passing of my brother I’ve made some really stupid decisions which have included ruining my marriage to the love of my life. Allowing my mother back into my life, only to be devastatingly hurt by her again. Helping family who turned around and hurt me deeply and stole from me. And most recently forgiving the very person who stole from me and hurt me, only for them to do it again. And they did so with the help of my brothers son, my nephew whom I love but no longer have contact with.
This is just a quick timeline of the major things that have happened TO me. Things that have helped shape who I am. If there is one thing I’ve learned about forgiveness it’s that you can let something tear you apart trying to be heard and right, or you can forgive silently and give yourself peace.
None of these people deserve forgiveness. They don’t. But I don’t either. Yet our God has a heart for forgiveness.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15
See, I know what it’s like to hold onto abuses, hurts, and all those negatives that people inflict upon us. I did it for so many years. It was who I was, “poor Tina, her own mother didn’t want her”. And geez, if your own mother chooses to keep four out of five of her children, it does something to you. When you love a man with all your being and he chooses other women constantly, it does something to you. When your father sees all of his other children yet doesn’t seem to notice you, it certainly messes with you. It did, for a very long time. It was my crutch, my excuse.
But once I really noticed God, that all changed. I’ve “known” God my entire life, but I’ve never “known” him. If I look back at all the things I was holding onto all these years I can find God’s hand in each and every single thing. I have really come to believe that God doesn’t DO things to you, that’s people, and sometimes people just absolutely suck. God has been working ahead and fixing all those hurts that people have so easily heaped on me.
I’ve learned a lot about how much people can really steal your joy, most of my family seems to have a license in that. But with God you can choose to listen to the garbage they spew or you can believe the truth about the God who created you.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
The greatest lesson I’ve learned about forgiveness is this, you are the only who is hurt by not learning to be forgiving. I carried all this hurt, anger, bitterness, lack of empathy and so many other negative characteristics with me most of my life. Do you know who in the above list was effected by this? No one but me. Just me. That’s it. I’ve carried this pain and the lack of being forgiving around and the only person who cared was me. Forgiveness for the most part comes much quicker for me these days because I’ve committed to a life of joy. That was the main ingredient missing from my life and since I’ve learned the “art” of forgiveness, my heart is joyful.
Am I perfect at forgiving, NO. Only God is.
‘Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ ~ Luke 7:47-48
I strive to please God and make him proud of who He has created me to be. I fall short a lot of days (especially when driving) but with his help I am getting better every day. I certainly don’t let my family bring me down any more because I know they all have issues of their own that I can’t fix. My best defense is staying far away and teaching my own family the lessons they’ve taught me. Forgiveness is like oxygen, if you’re going to survive it is necessary, and you’ve got to learn to extend it.
Even when it seems impossible.
Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ~ Matthew 19:26
I’m proof. Who do you need to forgive today? Would you pause for a few minutes and ask God to help put you on a path to forgiveness? I’d love to pray for you if you’d leave a comment.
- God Shows Up - April 24, 2019
- Live Like You Believe You Are Plenty - November 30, 2018
- Tsunami Named Chaos - June 27, 2018
‘Do you know who in the above list was effected by this? No one but me. Just me. That’s it.’ Yup. Just me, cause once it was gone I realized the other person was still the same. Unloading the unforgiveness freed me to pray for her rather than just stew and steam! Thx for sharing your journey to forgiveness, Tina. So inspiring!
You are so right. On our own strength…this story is full of good reason not to forgive….but God in his grace offers the freedom of forgiveness…a sweet and liberating gift!
Thank you for sharing your path to forgiveness, Tina. So glad you found peace with the perfect, loving, amazing Father who is simply crazy about you.
Oh, Tina! Your dear girl! After all that, I am so happy you are alive! What a harrowing path you’ve had. I’m so glad you’ve found refuge in the Lord. It is awesome that you are able to forgive those who trespassed against you. I pray you are like Job and the Lord will bless the latter part of your life waaayyyy more than the first!