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Learning to Forgive: "be Careful with me" and Other Thoughts

I love Cardi B.

Other than videos of her twerking, which I avoid, I am enamored by her. It’s her authenticity that gets to my heart and the hearts of many others.

In 2019 Cardi B won Best Rap Album of the Year. She is the first woman to win this award, ever. Instead of celebrating her win, Cardi turned her attention to her haters. It was clear that Cardi had some unresolved issues. As she poured out, the world ate it up, and it almost took her down.

As I reflected on my own issues, I saw parts of me in Cardi B. Truth is, I have never forgiven anyone in my life.  After 36 years, forgiveness is not a muscle I have trained, or even tried to build. My strategy with childhood bullies, ex-boyfriends, and even family has been as Dave Chapelle infamously put it, “Ya cut off!” 

In the past couple of months, God has presented me with challenge after challenge to forgive those closest to me regardless of what transpired. He’s asked me to invite people I’d written off to celebrations, asked me to celebrate with those I don't like. Quite frankly, it’s been annoying.

But I know he is using all of these circumstances to teach me an important lesson:

Every time I’m asked to step out my first response is, “You gotta be freaking kidding me!”. Offenses have come from everywhere. Like, EVERYWHERE. At work, at home, with my friends, our business partners. "Chile" (in my best Sarah Jakes impersonation), is a whole situation.

I wasn’t sure why all of this was happening, but it recently dawned on me that God was stepping on a pressure point in my life to illuminate an issue. It’s like going to a massage therapist for a crook in your neck. Before you can get the release, the massage therapist has to identify the knots, apply pressure, and essentially force your muscles to release the tension. 

At this stage of my life, I do not have a relationship with my father. He is alive and well, lives about an hour away from me; we just don’t have a relationship. Why do you ask? Bitterness. My father has become so good at cutting people off that even his children are not exempt.

The other day, I text to tell him our family missed him and that he’d worked too hard to spend his latter days alone. His response was a text that read something like, “I am not alone. I am with God. I am fine.”

My father meant it. He meant every bit of what he said, and I knew it because I too was wrestling with the desire to just be alone. It actually takes LOTS of effort for me to be around people. Like, I want nothing to do with "the humans". Real Talk.

As you can imagine, this is extremely problematic for a woman who occupies the spaces I do. My whole career is centered around social experiences. Whenever I get an invitation to an event, I immediately calculate who will be there and what it will take to interact with them.

If I feel it’s too much human contact, I just cancel. In rare instances, I actually show up and leave early. Even with new friendships, I’m sometimey at best. Sometimes I feel like it, sometimes I don’t. It’s not them, it’s definitely me.

I'm tethered. The other day, the holy spirit led me to pray against the root of anger and bitterness in my life. I knew that prayer was for me because I could literally feel the hardening of my heart as I prayed the prayer. It was as though there was an encasing around my heart that refused to let loose.

I understood at that moment that my family struggles from generational patterns of unforgiveness. When I look down my mother and father’s bloodline, all I see is trauma and unforgiveness. Families are torn apart, because of unforgiveness. Destinies thwarted, because of unforgiveness.

I have come to the conclusion that truly, unforgiveness is the Goliath of my life. I am wrestling with it every single day and know that unless I move to address these matters one by one, we aren’t moving forward. 

I most recently shared a story about how my husband and I were disappointed by those closest to us during some of our greatest tests and trials. I didn’t realize it then, but in the process of going through, I started to behave and act like my father. For the first time, I felt what he must have felt as a child when his mother passed and his father abandoned him.

For once, I felt what it must have been like to spend your entire life running from your past, only to have that past chase you down. I have learned that sometimes, the only way through, is THROUGH.  If you are struggling with forgiving like myself, you are going to have to press through the pain, one layer at a time.

Not sure if this is you? Here are some signs you may be wrestling with unforgiveness: 

You feel nothing.

It a numbness. No feeling where you should be feeling something. When someone disappoints you and you don’t flinch or skip a beat because you are so used to the letdown, that you are unphased. It’s healthy and normal to be disappointed and feel the sentiment. When your heart doesn’t feel pain anymore, you should be concerned. The same walls you have built to shield your heart will soon close in on you.

Your first reaction to conflict is a trigger finger.

You are un-relentless. Trust me, I know how to bring a gun to a knife fight. Not in the sense that I am actually bringing weapons. But it’s like you are sweet one moment until someone does something that steps on your trigger, then you unleash all fury on them.

While I am much better now than I was growing up, it recently dawned on me that my immediate reaction to people offending me is to come out guns blazing, setting fire to the rain and everything else in sight. Not good. I have been actively practicing holding back.

You write people off.

Oooh. My favorite strategy of all time. When I say I have never forgiven, that is because I write people off. Erased. Your page simply doesn’t exist anymore. Well, that has been my relationship with my home church for the past two years.

I simply wrote off the entire congregation (yup, the whole dang church), except for the select few I still liked, and even then, it was shaky as h*ll. But God recently used someone to highlight the need for healing in this area. The holy spirit laid it on my heart that the only way through the pain was to make an effort to reconcile.

So what do you do when there is a pain that just won’t let you go? You address it. Unresolved hurts will have you acting like a loser in your winning season. You must let the poison bleed out or it will come back to haunt you.

So I did it. I went back to church. It hurt, and I almost felt like choking as I drove late into service, cuz I really didn’t want to be there. As I sat in the service, I slowly felt like I was home again. Your girl won’t be jumping’ out the window any time soon, but I am at least willing to let God have his way. It gets easier every day. 

I’m patient with myself. I do only what I can do when I can do it and don’t allow others to tell me how I need to heal. Some people choose to walk through their healing in private. Not me.

My pain has been public, might as well let the rest of it be public as well. I make decisions regarding what my heart can handle and try to push myself just a little past the point of pain each time. This is a process.

I'm in a marathon of sorts, not a race. But if there is anything I am committed to doing, it is addressing the generational patterns of unforgiveness and bitterness in my family bloodline.

The curse ends here.

Come hell or high water, I am learning to forgive and I am gaining momentum. I am oh so seriously selfish about my momentum and will stop at nothing to have my freedom.

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