Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forgiveness

I used to think that forgiveness was easy and I didn’t have a problem with this. I have said that I have never not forgiven someone who asked for forgiveness. But what about those who don’t ask for forgiveness? What about them? How do we forgive those who either don’t know they hurt us or simply don’t care? Can we say like Jesus, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”?


I asked a friend recently, “Can I rightly divorce my cheating husband if I forgive him?” He said, “forgiveness should mean that you no longer hold the unfaithful act to his account. To divorce him would mean that you are still holding his sin to his account and that means forgiveness wasn't really present.”

But then why would God create a legitimate avenue for divorce that in essence would be hinged on sin (unforgiveness)??

Think of forgiving a baby sitter who sexually abused your child. That person, though forgiven may never baby sit your child again. But if God's love is present that we would make sure that person is supported while they receive the help they need...and not cast aside never to be spoken to again. Right?

Somewhere along the way someone told us that forgiving someone was as easy as saying, “I forgive you.” A one time act that magically takes away our hurt and heart aches. An act that prevents us from dwelling on the past and moving forward with the future. Ohhh, but if it were so easy. Remember I started by saying that I thought I didn’t have a problem with this? Well, I must confess that I do.

Because we may think that forgiveness is a onetime act of saying “you are forgiven” we fool ourselves into thinking that since we are still hurt, upset, and crushed by what happened we can just ignore the person. They don’t need to be part of our lives to hurt us anymore. We say, “I can forgive you, but I don’t have to talk to you anymore.” I am not sure if this reflects the Christ like attitude Jesus wants us to have. Can you imagine if God forgave us but didn’t talk to us anymore? Or said that he forgave us but just to prevent Himself from being hurt he has chosen to cut us off?

I have recently had several human interactions that have challenged my ability to forgive. One being my oldest sister and a couple of my friends. I reached a point in my relationship with my sister where I was simply tired of her talking down to me…speaking to me as if I were some child….I was tired of being bullied by her. This may be the classic case of “forgive them for they know not what they do.” Maybe she has no clue how her actions has negatively impacted me. Maybe she thinks that she is justified. Maybe she is just being herself – a bossy mother hen. Well, November 2009 marked the last time I communicated with her. It was a harsh exchange of emails, that I eventually chose not to respond to. And so Christmas, New Years, birthdays and anniversaries have passed and we have not spoken. I chose to do this. This was a conscious decision on my part…Because I was tired…I was tired of her talking down to me…and I just could not deal with it anymore. So where does forgiveness come into play? How can I forgive her if she does not even acknowledge her follies? Should I tell her how I feel? Would she even care? I think that forgiveness is not a onetime act that we were taught, but it is a work in progress. It begins with admitting that you need to forgive – even when the person who offended you does not ask for forgiveness. You say to yourself that regardless of if they even admit they are wrong, or if they ask for forgiveness, I will forgive them. But how do you do that? It sounds really nice and “spiritual” but practically, how do you move to that point.

Well, I think that in getting to that point means that I have to work on me. I have to acknowledge that I, just like her, have faults…many I may never see…I, just like her, have hurt someone…and may never know…I, just like her, may have a lot on my plate, that I just need grace and mercy. That acknowledgement puts me in a better place. And it puts it back on me. God commanded me to love, He commanded me to forgive…regardless of what the other person does. So, I need to work on me. Maybe I need to work on being more vocal about my feelings when she offends me. Maybe I need to work on patience and endurance. MAYBE, I need to work through my feelings of hurt and pain and NOT ignore it!

One of the things that make forgiveness so difficult is that we do not give people enough time to work through their hurt and pain. We expect that they should forgive and forget in an instant! Almost ignoring their heartache. But it is perfectly acceptable to admit that we need time to work through our feelings. Perhaps a prayerful attitude can help this along. The key is not to ignore your feelings…Because that can turn into ignoring the person. A quick fix, but not necessarily the right fix…To say that we have forgiven someone yet ignore them is not forgiveness…it is us taking the easy way out.

Last year a good friend of mine stood me up. I travelled 3 hours (while in another country) to see him and never saw him! I called, texted, called and texted! No response! And no response days after…And no response weeks after…And no response months after… I was HURT to say the least. I emailed him and told him how hurt and disappointed I was…no response…Three months later I wrote him again, asking him for some type of explanation…and told me he could not give me an explanation and just said he was sorry. I told him I deserved some type of explanation for what he did…He never responded. In that correspondence, I told him that at this point I did not care about his apologies. I simply wanted to know what happened, why you didn’t text me to say something…or why did you take 3 months to respond??? I told him that our friendship was hanging in the balance because I was not sure if we could still be friends if he could trample over my feelings without explaining why…NO RESPONSE…

Then HE wrote me in July, saying that he was sorry but still refused to give me an explanation. He remains adamant about not giving me ANY type of explanation as to why he stood me up, why he never responded to my text, why he never emailed me when I emailed him a couple weeks later, or why he took 3 months to respond to my emails.

So he has asked for forgiveness, and I thought I had forgiven him….But at this point I no longer want to be his friend. AT this point, I no longer trust him with my heart/feelings…He is one of the FEW male friends I had. One of the few brothers that I loved so much…One of the few people that I thought I could still count out…who had my back… But he has proven that I can’t count on him. Almost a year later, and I still feel like how I felt that faithful October weekend…Tearful and sad…

Have I truly forgiven?

He is still my brother in Christ…And by that love should govern our relationship. Christ’s love. Therefore I should and will treat him like any brother or sister…with love…The crazy thing about Christ’s love is that it calls us to love each other…kinda the same way we love our friends.

Forgiveness – a work in progress…I will start with the acknowledgement that I need to work on me in order to truly forgive you.

Humble Beginnings

In 1998 I met Jared at the28th annual Caribbean Lectureship that was hosted in my home country of Trinidad. We were both 17 years old at the time. He came with his parents along with the Mona Acapella choir from Jamaica. Our paths crossed thanks to my best friend, Tammy. She introduced “Brother Kiddoe’s” son to me. She knew of him because his dad stayed at their house a couple years aback.
Well, at the time I had a boyfriend so I was not interested in anything romantic. A little na├»ve, I asked if we could be friends. Well, mister had something else in mind and said that if he can’t have me then we can’t be friends. HOW IMMATURE! Humph! We spent a bit of time during the lectureship getting to know each other. Again, I just wanted to be friends…but he wanted more. We exchanged contact info the last day. Over the next two years I probable wrote him a couple times and spoke to him on the phone a couple times. Nothing serious. He told me that he was planning to attend college in the U.S. Ironically, I wanted to study abroad myself!

Two years later the lectureship was being host by the Church of Christ in St. Lucia. I made plans to attend and called him a couple weeks before to find out if he was going. He said he was not sure. Ah well, I was just excited to venture out of the country to see another beautiful island! By that time I was fourteen months into my second relationship. A relationship characterized by turmoil and utter frustration, while at the same time deeply attached to each other. At 19 I already had in mind that I would marry him…We had joint accounts and everything! But there was something wrong…We argued more than we had fun…But he was a budding preacher…and good brother…But something was not right…I cried more than I smiled. I was frustrated by the image of appear to be a great couple when I knew we were not!!! Something was wrong.

When I went to the Caribbean Lectureship in St. Lucia and I figured out what was wrong…I had lost myself in this man. I had depended on him for my happiness…I was looking for him to give me what no one could give me…happiness. As I attended the lectures and fellowshipped with the saints, my soul was on a spiritual high…And for the first time in a LONG time, I was at peace, I was happy. I am thankful for this Lectureship because it changed the course of my life. At 19, I honestly thought I was destined to be unhappy. I thought that he was the best I could do and I would just have to live like this…unhappy.

Sunday we went to worship (the first day of the lectureship) and there was Jared! Yaaay! You made it! What a pleasant surprise :-). We hung out with each other for the entire lectureship. I was mesmerized by his witty charm. For a brief moment I had forgotten about my dreadful relationship. Until he called…Yep, he called me just to see how I was doing…And I was UP-SET! “Why are you calling me!? Can’t I get a break!?” That is when it hit me…He was not the one for me…I know I can be happy because I am happy right now…Happy to be away from you…Crazy! As soon as I got back to Trinidad at the end of that week I told him that I can’t do it anymore…I can’t continue with our relationship. And we ended a 14 month relationship. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do…We were soooo connected…We were physically connected…and I think dysfunction attracts dysfunction.

I told myself that this year is for me…Just for me…to work on me, to work on my relationship with God, and to learn to be happy with myself, by myself. Jared and I acknowledged that we liked each other, but I made it clear that I was not ready for a relationship. I did not want him to be the rebound man. So we remained friends. And for that year we talked on line, kept in touch and just worked on getting to know each other as friends. That December I traveled to Jamaica to visit with him. I almost went to Grenada instead but thank God that didn’t work out :-).

Funny story – When I went to JA, I told Jared that we could not be together because I wanted to be a preacher’s wife…And since he wanted to be a doctor, we could not work out. Hahahaha. I was serious too. That was probably the day after Christmas and poor Jared was depressed. We continued as friends, and I eventually grew to realize that I should be with someone for who they are, not their profession. By the following summer, Jared came to Trinidad and we became “official” at age 20. We dated long distance for 5 years. Two of those years I was in Trinidad and he was in Texas! The other three years, I was in SC and he was in NC.

At age 25 we jumped the broom and we have been happily married for 4 years. I look at him and I can’t help but think that I picked the right one!!

Last week we went to the 40th annual Caribbean Lectureship that was held in Trinidad. It was great to go back to where we started. Two ditsy 17 year old…From since that time so much has changed. I graduated high school, did A’Levels, went to Preaching School for two years…Came to the U.S. and completed my undergrad in 3 years, got married, started working, completed my MSW, bought a house and car, got a promotion…Jared graduated from ACU with a Biochemistry degree…then went to Duke Med and came out with a M.D. AND M.A. in Psychology. He is now in his 3rd year of residency and is practicing in the field of Psychiatry. I would have never imagined how the Lord would have led us to where we are now…God is amazing.

Last week at the Caribbean lectureship, Jared (with my assistance) presented a 3 day parenting workshop. He feels so passionate about making a difference and felt that the one sure way to make a difference is to start with the parents. Since he eventually wants to work with children, he knows that it is almost impossible to work with a child if their parents are not on board. They can undo all the good that was done in therapy. So he thought what better way to help, than to teach parents how to be better parents…And then they can raise better children…And ultimately strengthen our communities. He has invested a lot of time and energy researching the parenting field, and sourcing materials that have been evidenced based. It was amazing to see how someone so young, with no kids of his own, be able to use his professional experience in working with this families, and his education background, to translate that into something the church can benefit from.

The feedback from the class was excellent! One sister even said that she has to go home and apologize to her two kids (17 & 24). WOW. That alone told me that the class was successful. To God be the glory!

I am so proud of you honey…And proud to see our humble beginnings. I cannot wait to see what the future will hold and how the Lord will continue to use us to strengthen his church.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Memoirs of a Wife

The day before the wedding-
I must be the luckiest woman in the world. I can’t believe the day is almost here!!! I have dreamed about this moment ever since I was a little girl, and it could not be more perfect! I know he is going to make me happy forever…He is a strong man of God. He comes from a good Christian family, he grew up in the church. I know he will lead our family and remain faithful to me and to God. He’s the perfect gentleman too! He is an example to so many people in church. They all look up to him…And guess what…HE’s MINE!!!

The honeymoon-

I am married to this chocolate hunk of a brother! He’s is so fine! I just want him to hold me, and cuddle with me…Let me just sit here and savor this moment…this is just pure bliss…perfection…And on top of that we get to do this forever. I’m so in love!

After the honeymoon-

I hope I will be able to make him happy. I have to get used to this new life…I want to serve him and support him…But I wonder sometimes if I am doing things right. Sometimes I feel like I am not being a good wife because I don’t cook all the time. I am not used to waking up at 5am and making breakfast, cooking dinner, and cleaning all the time…I hope he thinks I’m okay.

Beyond the honeymoon-

It would be nice if every once in a while he offered to help me with the chores!! We talked about this before we got married and he agreed that he would take out the trash and do the dishes…I just don’t get it! Why is he not living up to his end of the bargain!? Why does he think that I am the only one responsible for this!? Ugh! It just drives me crazy!!

Then he has the AUDACITY to tell me that he does this and that and I don’t acknowledge that…or tell him thanks. I just don’t understand why he thinks that he needs a thank you for something he is supposed to do…PLEASE! I don’t see him thanking me when I make the bed, or do laundry. But noooooo, the moment he does one little thing he is waiting for me to pat him on his back. Next thing he will be expecting me to thank him for brushing his teeth or taking a shower. No, this is just ridiculous now!

OK, and what is up with this intimacy thing…GOOD NIGHT! He can’t expect that I will always be available and on call whenever he wants it! After I go to work all day, and spend so much time cooking and cleaning…I’m tired man! I can’t even remember the last time he just held me…and cuddled. It’s like the romance went out the door! HELLO!

I’ll end with this one…

You know, I am starting to wonder if this man really went to school…Because sometimes its like he does not use his brain!! The other day he invited his parents over WITHOUT consulting with me first. I come home, thinking that I am going to relax after a long and taxing work week and low and behold I see his parents sitting on my couch! I understand that they don’t visit often, but I think it’s just wrong for him not to tell me they were coming. First of all the house was a mess…They probably think I am a bad wife…and then I just was not mentally prepared to have these people in my space. This is not the first time he has done this and it just pisses me off!

Can’t he just try to do better? Why should I have to hit the ceiling and the roof before he hears what I am saying!! UGH he makes me so mad sometimes!!!
Where is the man I married!?