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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Truth about FORGIVENESS

Recently,  I looked at my blog stats.  Have you done that?  It's very interesting --and tells alot as to who is looking at our blogs and which posts they look at the most.  One post that I wrote in 2009 entitled "The Truth about Hugs" (click HERE) has had 5,439 views since I published it.  Another one I wrote only a month ago on Honesty (click HERE) has gotten 3,205 views already.  That just shocks me to know that so many people are reading our blogs.  They don't comment --so we don't know unless we look at the statistics.

Anyhow,  while thinking about those two titles,   there's another blog which I have been thinking about writing for quite a long time now.   BUT--since my blog title is "Joyful Reflections"--I try to keep most of my posts JOYFUL.  This topic which I have chosen today is a hard one  for most of us I'm sure.  We are all human and there are people in our lives which, for various reasons,  we have been estranged from or struggling with,  sometimes for years.  OR--life has changed all around us and we wonder how we can cope.  There is tension and stress and sometimes,  lots of bitterness.  In some cases,  things which have happened to us completely control us ---and take over our lives.

For over 25 years,  I worked for a church and did a fair amount of unofficial counseling.  I was a good listener --so people felt safe talking to me.  I also was not judgmental with others,  even though there were times when I had to work hard not to shake someone and just say:  "Get over it"....

Ninety percent of the time,  I was a help to others who sometimes just needed to talk. I heard many, many stories about family problems,  problems with relationships,  abuse--both physical and verbal,  death and bereavement,  along with who-knows what else!!!  The one thing I knew for sure when trying to help someone else is that no amount of words which I (or anyone else) could say would help unless that person is ready to make some different choices for him or herself.  It's like losing weight.  Nobody else can shame me into losing weight.  It only happens when "I" am ready to do something about it myself.

What nobody ever knew most of my adult life (while I was busy helping others)  was that I was sexually abused by a family member as a child.  It was bad enough for a child to go through that --but what was worse for me was the fact that when I confronted my mother with what was going on,  SHE didn't believe me.  I just had to move on ---and just ignore that it happened.  That is what I did for many, many years.  It affected me (through my weight problem) and it affected my relationships.  BUT--I was 'above' it ---and 'thought' that I was a BIGSHOT who didn't need any help getting over it.  HA.......

Finally,  about 1998,  a very good friend (he knows who he is) got me to talk about it --and helped me get counseling myself --for the first time in my life.  I was able to deal with it on a professional level, and learned alot about myself during those sessions.   YES---there are times when the bitterness rears its ugly head these days --but I am now doing fine.   (Of course,  it helps to have such a loving, supportive husband.)

Here are some things I have learned through my own experience and  by talking and listening to others all through the years:
-We cannot ignore situations which alter our lives.
-We need to be willing to admit that we need help.
-We need to do whatever necessary to get that professional help.
-We don't need to sit around and either feel guilty or feel sorry for ourselves.
-We don't need to allow hurtful situations to 'control' us and our lives.
-Sometimes,  all we need is TIME..  BUT--don't let that stop you from living.
-By ignoring a situation,  we allow it to grow and grow and turn into something worse than the situation itself.

And more importantly:
-We need to FORGIVE.   Most people think that by forgiving,  we are saying that what happened was okay... That is not true.  By forgiving,  we are saying that we no longer are going to allow the pain that they inflicted on us to control us.
-Forgive for YOURSELF--not for the other person(s).  You need to be able to forgive so that you can rid yourself of all of the baggage you have been carrying.
-You will never FORGET just because you forgive..   It happened --and it will always be there, inside of you.  But,  by forgiving, you can stand up and shout:  "I forgive so that I will no longer allow you to control me.  I am going to proudly get on with my life".

And the last thing which is also extremely important:
-You must LOVE yourself so that you are able to forgive and get on with your life.
-Love is the key.  I did not love myself for many years.  Now I DO--even with all of my craziness at times!!!!!

I didn't share my story to make you sad.  Mine is a SUCCESS story.  I did FORGIVE and even though all of my family are gone now,  I still love them ALL very, very much.

I have always enjoyed writing --but I never realized, when I first started blogging,  that I would be able to help others through my words... I hope that something I have said has made you THINK.   I am always here (email me) if you need to talk. God has blessed me.

Blessings to you.