The F word

Forgiveness
Forgive

Grapevine Church

by Stephanie Rochelle Redd

Free food.

These are my favorite “F” words. I love them individually and together, though I do prefer the latter.

free food

See?

I also prefer peace to war, love to hatred, and happiness to sadness. However, living in this world mandates the latter in each ratio if its opposite is to also exist. So, what is this existing neo-flower child to do?

Well, after I finish picketing ‘The Man’ and hugging my fair share of trees, I must then pick the man that hurt me the most and hug him–namely, forgive.

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'”

~Matthew 18:21, NKJV

To live harmoniously in a world of hurt is one hell of a feat. As such, I completely understand Peter tallying the toil others’ hellish behavior had taken on him.

Over the years, I kept my own tally of the injustices others committed against me. My tally-taking, however, was much less forgiving than cut-your-ear-off-Peter’s. (Imagine that.) Rather than seven times, it just took several strikes against me, and you – and your ear – were outta there.

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Boom.

Fortunately, I’m a nice person, overall, so not too many people have experienced the full measure of my displeasure.  Unfortunately, for a small group of people who have witnessed my wrath firsthand – a few dozen students, one or two guys, and one family guy, in particular – let’s just say that Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, would’ve been proud.

I’m not proud, though, looking back on those fiery events. Yes, there was a lot of pride involved, but it was of the ego variety. And where there is ego – a lot of ego, in my case – there is also a lot of room for forgiveness, even though it may not feel like it and we may not feel like forgiving.

Admittedly, I didn’t feel like forgiving for much of my life. More accurately, I hated the word “forgive” and any variation of it with a volcanic passion.

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I felt forgiveness was wrong because I thought it made those who hurt me right. Of course, it was perfectly fine for others to forgive me in the very – very – rare cases where I hurt them. (Ahem.)

Clearly, my sense of justice was warped, with the odds of me being the victim almost always being in my favor. But in my defense – You saw that coming, right? – I was actually a victim for a significant period of my life–childhood.

Yes, I hear you:

“Well, who wasn’t traumatized as a child?”

Sadly, that is one question with too many replies. Yet, there is only one answer that I’ve found that has allowed me to triumph over my trauma: Forgiveness.

I know, I know.

“How can someone who once hated the very word now show it so much love?”

Well, when “someone” is increasingly showing herself love, the ease of showing love to other things – and people – increases in kind, even when that “someone” was very unkind to those things – and people – before.

While my glasses are not rose-colored, these days they are tinted with love, particularly of the self variety, which allows me to look back on my past with love as well. That is not to say that I am looking pass my past trauma, but I am seeing it in a way that makes me revere God and respect myself for getting through it.

This is me at 3.

me at 3

Isn’t she lovely?

This little girl, like many small children, are often called “resilient”–meaning that they can take a whipping licking and keep on ticking. However, there are only so many of life’s lickings that a person, let alone a child, can take until their heart’s ticking loses momentum and eventually comes to a screeching halt.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men [and women].”

~Frederick Douglass [and Stephanie Rochelle Redd]

In my past, things were done and words were said that I thought were unforgivable. And in reserving my right to forgive those who trespassed against me, I also restricted my ability to receive forgiveness–from myself. But why would a person, a child, a three-year-old cherub need to forgive him- or herself if they were the victim?

Well, I can’t write for you, but I needed to forgive myself for just being a victim, period–for not having the serenity, courage, wisdom, or wherewithal to see, understand, or stop what the hell was happening around me and to me in the first place. In retrospect, it was that hell that I could not fathom as a child that I fired upon others as an adult. Thankfully, though brutally, I have been brought to a place in my adulthood where I am forced to grow the hell up.

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In the magical land of Actual Adulthood, there is no blame, only mirrors. These mirrors are other people who appear to be different from us, yet are able to magically show us ourselves by the ways we respond to them and they to us. Also in Actual Adulthood, there is nowhere to go but within.

It was only when I began intently searching myself for the panacea to my pain did I find it in love. In other words, self-love helps me accept my past and myself presently. Further, my increased love and acceptance of myself increases my love and acceptance of other people, especially the people who hurt me. (What? That’s the magic of actual adulting and actual love.)

This “magic” has also transformed my idea of forgiveness. Rather than seeing it as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for my persecutors, I now understand forgiveness as the freedom for which I am given. Forgiveness frees me from the weighty job of passing judgement on myself and others, and gives that responsibility to whom it rightly belongs: God.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”

~Matthew 18:22, NKJV

No, Jesus did not want Peter to keep a tally of the 490 times his brother mistreated him, neither does Jesus want us to count our brothers’ and sisters’ wrongs against them. Instead, He wants us to count on God the Father to mete out justice as He sees fit, trusting that God’s rulership in our lives means fair rulings for us as well as others.

Now that I am armed with my new definition of forgiveness and deeper faith in God, I willingly surrender my victimhood – and my addiction to it – to His Higher Power in exchange for a victorious life for me and for generations to come. I am also willing to make room on my “Favorite ‘F’ Words” list for at least two more.

robert

 

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Faith it ’til you make it

Faith
rumi

Divine Feminine Reawakening

by Stephanie Rochelle Redd
I am not from Missouri, but when given the choice between seeing or believing, I prefer the former.

“Show me the money!”
“The proof is in the pudding.”
“Just the facts, Ma’am.”

If these phrases were not already part of the zeitgeist, I am sure I would have coined them. For me, and perhaps for you too, seeing is just easier than believing. Seeing just takes sight. Believing, on the other hand, takes work–mental work, emotional work, ultimately, faith.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” ~Hebrews 11:1, NKJV

As one who sees herself as ‘faithful,’ my preference to see is often overruled by my purpose, which is to believe in that which is unseen. No doubt, living with this contradiction has proven challenging for me over the years. Yet as of late, my purpose has surged pass my preference into a stratosphere of belief that I have never seen before.

Frankly, I feel like I jumped out of a plane without a parachute, in tandem with only the belief that I will have a good flight. Everything in my life right now appears to be up in the air. But for a proof-seeking, facts-demanding land lover like myself, I am actually – and surprisingly – cruising at this untethered altitude.

While there is a lot of earth in my astrological chart, I have chosen to heed a voice in my heart that has greater intelligence than ground control. This voice speaks to me at such a high frequency that I have to be still to hear it. In my stillness, it prompts me to trade in  my natural sight for supernatural vision. Not while I’m driving, of course, or even walking, for that matter–only in matters that require the utmost tender, loving faith…which, as I previously stated, appears to be everything.

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Quotesgram

Lord, lift me up where I belong. (Not only is this my jam, but it’s also my prayer.)

You see, I’ve got high hopes and big dreams. In fact, my hopes and dreams are so massive that if I was not as faithful as I am, I would think they are impossible. I mean, looking at where I am and then looking at where I want to be, my hopes and dreams appear to be just that.

Yet, my faith tells me to look beyond what is and compels me forward to what will be. What will be, that is, according to faith.

How can “the substance of things hoped for” be a substantial tool for seeing your way through life? How can “the evidence of things not seen” be seen as “evidence” at all? How many questions can one writer ask? (Don’t tempt me.) For me – and all my questions – the only answer that I can offer myself and others engaged in the high-flying act of faith is: Because it tells me so.

No, not Stephen King’s It, though the “it” to which I am referring was also established by a King. And no, I am not referring to King James either–either of England or “The Land” fame.

The “it” that tells me so, that compels me forward, that has distinctly instructed me to jump out of life’s plane – and away from my plans – is The Word.

Known to some in its written form as the Bible, known to others in its living form as Jesus the Christ, known to others still as the Holy Spirit or simply Spirit, God, Source or the Universe, whatchamacallit and whatever you call it, it affirms my faith, it confirms my faith, and it renews my faith – moment-by-moment – in what I hear my heart say.

And what has my heart said exactly? Well, that’s for me to know and for you to find out–eventually. But I will tell you that what it tells me is true. How do I know?

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‘Cause I got faith.

 

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