Posted by: Ed Deiss | August 10, 2016

The Hardest Thing to Give Away

breaking-free-from-the-pastI knew I had to break free and get off Wronged Road. Been down this boulevard of broken dreams, hearts, and lives before. Here I am on it again, going the wrong way. Feels justifying to stay, and don’t feel like getting off it either.  Wronged Road is deceiving, with the perceived power and justification that the offender is being held accountable for their actions.  Then I realize the further I travel down this road, the more I can’t move: shackled and bound by a time and place someone else has chosen. It weighed me down and imprisoned my soul as I chose to stay on it and turn my back on my future. Need to find a bridge to cross. Does this journey sound familiar? Many people have walked this road, not just single parents.

Want to break free? Need to set it free. You won’t feel like it and seeing as you are the only one that has walked in your shoes, the pain caused is certainly real. If you so choose, need to give something away that will take everything you have. It starts with a decision and your will to carry it out. Forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  – Corrie ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.  She was imprisoned in a concentration camp for her actions. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, describes the ordeal.  Her witness and story certainly serves as a model for forgiveness; it requires strength and takes time. Forgiveness is not easy nor is it an event. Time is needed before the heart fully accepts what the will has set in motion and how long depends on the severity of the pain of the offense. Allow yourself the time, space, and grace that the healing requires to move forward to full forgiveness.  A blogger colleague of mine from Single Parents Town, Michele Deville, said it well about broken hearts that will heal:

“Sometimes the heart will break but just because the heart is broken does not mean your spirit is; let your spirit lead you through the difficult days and have faith that, with time, your heart will heal and you will emerge stronger and wiser than before.”

Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook, not the same as reconciling, and does not mean forgetting.   Forgiveness does not imply that the relationship will just be restored and revert to the way it was.  It does not mean that we now trust those who violated our trust or even like being around those who hurt us.

So, then, what is forgiveness? I found it put quite simply:

“Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”- Anonymous

So, how do we do that? It was painful and yes, it hurt. You want to be free of past offenses however still carry those bitter memories and hard feelings from that road where others wronged you. It’s not impossible. It will take everything you have to just to say the word and involves:

Confronting and admitting the pain – Denying pain keeps us on the wronged road.  Offenses always cause pain and allow yourself to honestly experience it long enough to understand it fully; that’s the beginning of healing. Don’t let pride deny it, dull it, or mask it. Also, grief and anguish respect no hour and honor no person.

Knowing that confusion is confusing, and to work through it – Offenses cause confusion akin to being in a storm after which a dense fog sets in. Rest assured, you are not alone. Stay grounded and reach out to others;  I am  blessed with other guys in my life who had been there. Their influence in helping me work through this time was immeasurable. The confusion will also confuse boundaries, set and defend them.

Finding out what happened – Get clear on who, what happened, then why. This is not looking for an excuse. Rather meant to prevent dwelling on how we were hurt or how we wish to see the other person punished. If appropriate, ask friends or family members for information.

Allowing the information to become insight – Once the facts are determined and clear, we may think that forgiveness occurs automatically. Human nature then beckons our protective and vengeful impulses which can result in rounds of bitterness and anger. The wonder of it all is the insight given into our own heart which involves us freeing another, and thus ourselves.

Making the choice to let go – It is our act of will that sets us free from burdens of the past; it’s not natural. Adopting a new attitudes of the heart help us live “above” our natural impulses that keep us bound to a time and place we would rather not dwell.

As a seven-year old child who came home from school one day to find my Mom gone, and then let go by her to save herself, did not get to forgiveness until I was an adult.  I was also a trigger pull away from not having the opportunity to restore the relationship when my former step dad attempted to end her life. That image of the revolver to her head will always be there, and that night will not forgotten. However, made the choice to let go and have forgiven, and grateful for the strength of scars gained. The relationship with my Mom now restored in adulthood, we both know that in the end it all turned out, not as we had planned, better than we could have imagined.

With my Mom today, relationship restored and better than we ever imagined.

With my Mom today, relationship restored and better than we ever imagined.

Will never forget April 3rd, 2009.  Getting through Tuesday for me took years of Tuesdays after I experienced human betrayal and pain beyond wildest imaginations, yet I got through it to the point where I could forgive my former spouse.  Again, not easy yet needed.

Realizing each situation is going to be unique, these were the similar phases I went through which lead to the bridge of forgiveness. If you are anything like me, my flesh tells me forgiveness seems like an unreachable destination and leaves me conflicted. I have a hard time forgiving the person who cut in front of me on the way to work, let alone someone who has done irreparable harm. Holding grudges is easier.

Is there someone in your life who wronged you? Maybe a relationship that has been severed because a lie was told or trust betrayed? Or perhaps, you have been wronged by a complete stranger, you hold on to a deep resentment that you carry with you every moment of every day. Maybe, someone has stolen away something or someone so precious to you that you can never get back. Big or small, when you come to that bridge of forgiveness, it can be seemingly impossible to cross.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes

 

If you find yourself on Wronged Road holding onto neglect, rejection, trust taken away, or anything keeping you bound to a time and place of someone else’s choosing, listen to the whisper in your ear. Set. It. Free.

Until next time,

Ed

 

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