Category Archives: Forgiving

By Forgiving Someone Over and Over, Are You Letting Them Walk All Over You

A reader posted an interesting comment a few days ago about having an abusive spouse of which they had forgiven over and over for their bad deeds. Their emotions play havoc on their ability to sleep at night. They think by forgiving their spouse over and over, they are letting them run all over them.

It was a comment that struck home in my thoughts as Sidney Slaton, an alcoholic, was forgiven by the Reverend Mrs. Ada Slaton Bonds over and over in my novel Faith – Seventy Times Seven. I remembered from one chapter to another, as the story unfolded, asking my wife, “how in the world can my grandmother stay with such an abusive husband and turn to God and forgive Sidney for his abusiveness? How did Miss Ada confront this repeated abuse by Sidney? How was she able to forgive and forgive, seventy by seven times, without feeling he was running all over her?”

Again, I am not an ordained minister, only a grandson who has studied scripture after scripture while writing the life story of Miss Ada. But, I must admit, I have learned much more than I could ever imagine writing FAITH.

Ada did confront Sidney, but only once. There was never a year that went by she was not abused verbally or physically nor their children, as well. Ada knew by confronting Sidney, it might be opening a breach that could never be closed. However, much like her Divine Calling in 1912, she knew the righteousness of God demanded she take action.

Outside Coushatta, Louisiana, on four-mile hill, Miss Ada wore out a small path of red clay as she made her way to the back wood’s smokehouse to talk with God. When it came to the incident of physical punishment to her two young boys, she knew why she must confront injustice. This is where forgiveness comes to be. Ada knew that God did not want her to meet head on Sidney’s injustice out of anger or bitterness. She knew tackling Sidney’s injustice, taking action to make him pay for what he did to the boys would be wrong as she, herself, would be guilty of sin.

Miss Ada seemed to always turn to one of the scriptures when searching for forgiveness for her husband of twenty years. In this case, she would turn to James 1:20. “…for Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” If Ada were to retaliate against the injustice that Sidney served to his two sons out of anger and bitterness, even though in my opinion her cause was just, she would be acting unrighteously and God would not have blessed her efforts.

I recommend, if you not have already done so, to read Miss Ada’s life story. You will also be led to ask yourself why she doesn’t retaliate for such abusiveness by Sidney Slaton. But, let me conclude, in my opinion, that forgiveness is always, and I repeat, always appropriate, even in cases where we are repeatedly wronged. We must get rid of any bitterness and resentment we derive from such acts before we take that step of confrontation. Otherwise, we will be labeled guilty of performing a righteous thing in an unrighteous way…and, God will not bless us!

Let me conclude today’s post by saying most of us don’t need forgiveness…we need to forgive. Forgive from your heart…write a letter or make a telephone call. Forgive my jumping in your car and driving over and seeing someone face to face. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, let go of that rope of anger and bitterness. How many times does one need to forgive? Jesus says, “Seventy times Seven.”

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Readers of FAITH Respond with “I Can Forgive, But I Can’t Forget?”

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine. She and I have another good friend we have both known since the first grade. She said that the two of them had gotten into a verbal argument and said unkind things to one another. This friend had just finished reading my novel, Faith – Seventy Times Seven, and, the same as I did when writing it, struggled with forgiving and was still having angry thoughts that filled her mind over their abusive conversation with one another.

My mom and her sister had done the same thing and did not speak to one another for over ten years. It was only as my mom laid on her bed in the hospital dying from cancer did my aunt walk in one day. I watched the two of them cry. No words were said. Neither of them over all this time found the way to forgive and forget and it was one of the most saddest things I had ever seen. After almost five minutes, they both, almost simultaneously said, “I’m sorry.” My mom passed away three days later.

As I had done numerous times during the writing of this novel, I pondered over forgiveness and forgetting as my grandmother, the Reverend Ada Slaton Bonds struggled with an abusive alcoholic husband for twenty years. My thoughts turned to the many scriptures in the Bible that I had read over and over during my research for the true story of the first ordained woman minister in Louisiana. Surely, I asked myself, if we have trouble forgetting, what about God who never forgets anything? In Hebrews 10:17, God says, “Their sins and their lawless acts I will remember no more.” Let me emphasize that in God’s own words he says, “I will remember no more.” In God’s forgiveness, he chooses not to remember our sins.

This good friend of mine blames our other friend for being abusive and ugly in her verbal abuse. She went on to tell me that after several months she found the way to forgive him, but during sleepless nights, she would wake up, off and on, thinking about the argument they had and get angry all over again. The thoughts of the incident simply did not go away. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months…she could not forget.

I mentioned to her during my writing of FAITH, that I remembered talking to a Baptist minister during one Thanksgiving dinner a year or so ago. He painted an interesting picture in words. “Have you ever seen a movie and it is a thick foggy day off the coast and the captain of a vessel reaches up and pulls the rope for a loud fog horn. Even after pulling the rope the horn continues to sound loudly, over and over as it echos through the stillness of the fog.” The seasoned minister of many years stops eating for a moment, leans over in my direction, and says, “What happens Sean if the captain does not pull on that rope again?” I knew he was asking the question, but hesitated in responding knowing he was about to give me the answer. “The sound of the fog horn will soon fade away! Forgiveness is like that. If we struggle with that which has hurt us for a long time, we should not be caught off guard if these angry thoughts keep coming our way. They are simply the echos of the fog horn on a still morning getting weaker and weaker until they are no more.

I let my friend know what I had learned. I explained to her that it is not surprising if after forgiveness that the memories keep coming back. If you refuse to dwell on them, they will slowly just go away. Why…because when you forgive someone, you are letting go of the rope, much like the captain of the vessel letting go of the rope and the strength of those thoughts of anger that bother you become weaker and weaker until they are no longer there.

Stay tuned…in my next post I will continue with my discussion of my two friends and their anger towards one another. Does forgiveness mean my friend has to let our mutual friend walk all over her?