“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
(I John 3:18)
Anonymous Personal Testimony on Forgiveness:
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
Forgiving is one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes events in our lives require us to show grace & forgive those around us, even when they don’t seem to deserve it. Other times life requires us to forgive ourselves. At our church, we call it EGR… Extra Grace Required. In my situation, when I think of people I need to forgive, I of course think of those who have hurt me the deepest.
My Grandpa was always the man in my life to make sure everything was running smoothly, even in the midst of chaos. He was a hard worker, a loved friend by many, and an extremely wonderful example of a father and role model. When my Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, things happened rapidly & shook my family to the core. He was extra tough and maintained his battle for many years through chemo, radiation, and numerous biopsies but at the end of his battle, he took a turn for the worst rather quickly and was sent home on hospice. This was after he went in for a procedure that we thought would be quick and easy, but we found out that his body was covered in cancer to the point of no return. He was sent home to be as comfortable as possible and surrounded by family and love ones for his final days on this earth.
Eleven years prior to all of this, Grandpa had remarried a woman who never really connected with our family, and was a very heavy drinker! As we all united together to make his last memories the best we could, she and her daughter and son-in-law sat in the garage away from him, chain smoking cigarettes and getting drunk the entire five days. Some people cope differently and I understand that. However, as his wife, and considering he was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known, I guess my expectations were higher. She would come in drunk and over medicate him because she couldn’t read the dosages. She spent almost no time with him, which ended up being a blessing because it allowed my family and me to spend every possible moment by his side.
On the last day that he was with us, we brought over all of the old family photos to reminisce and let him know the memories we were sharing together. He had been in a coma for a couple of days at that point and we knew his time was nearing. We wanted him to remember the great life we all shared together, however his wife could not handle all of those memories that did not include her. She let her own selfish ways and drunken stupor guide her last moments with my grandpa, which included screaming at all of my individual family members, making an incredibly embarrassing scene, calling the police to have us escorted out for trespassing, and robbing us of sharing his last moments here in this world.
Not only did she kick us out two hours before he passed away after five days of not leaving his side, but she then hosted an entire funeral without including any of his family and also forgetting to include a good majority of his friends. She had him cremated against his wishes to save money, and she lied to our family about the dates/times of the services. She withheld his belongings (we only wanted sentimental things, not monetary things) and sent my mom and uncle horrible, taunting text messages in months to come. She flipped a switch and became a completely different person than what we had ever seen when he was alive.
There are a million reasons that I could continue living my life resenting and even hating her, but after time passed, I knew it wouldn’t do either of us any justice. The poison that would resonate in my heart and control me would never be able to bring him back or undo any of the things that happened that night. Hating her and trying to seek revenge would not make my Grandfather proud, and that’s all I ever wanted to do. I know that he would tell me that we were better than that, and so I decided, I will be.
As I see it, there is no way to justify that type of behavior and she has a lot of forgiving to do, as she has to live with herself and the decisions that she made for the rest of her life. Forgiving yourself can be so much harder than forgiving someone else. You can walk away from other people day to day, but you have to live with yourself and look yourself in the mirror everyday.
I have prayed for God to remove that pain for almost three years now and although the loss of someone so special to you will always cause you grief, it’s true that every day gets a little easier. It’s also true that some days are better than others, and you have to take them as they come. I know that I have the Lord’s strength to get me by, and I know that by being able to forgive her and pray for her journey, it has made me a better version of myself. I will not be the one that she will have to answer to at the end of her days, but I do pray that she will choose to correct the situation by repenting. I believe that she can use all the prayers she can get! I have found that the more I pray for my enemies, the more my heart grows with trust & faith in our Lord Jesus.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” (Matt 5:44-46)
Learning to forgive in the hardest of times has taught me to love people better in general. There’s always an up side in every broken situation. At the end of the day, I know my grandpa would be proud of me for holding my head high & taking the higher road; That in itself is reason enough for me to continue to do so. All I ever wanted to do was make him proud.
“The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.”
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter, But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter, But I think it’s about forgiveness,
Forgiveness, even if, even if, you don’t love me anymore” (Don Henley)
For more resources on forgiveness, please click here.