Faith has always been a big part of my life. My family is rooted in Catholicism. However, my aunt would take me to Charismatic-Catholic conferences and introduced me to spirit-filled services… speaking in tongues. Raising our hands in worship. Experiences that were not regularly part of a traditional Mass.
At the age of 13, I met my high-school-sweetheart (well, almost since we were in middle school). He introduced me to the Pentecostal church. At the time (mid-90’s), they were talking about Revival. We would stay up late reading the bible and attend church almost every day. Services were filled with words like “repent”, “sacrifice”, and “forgive”.
“YES!” I thought, I was ready to repent & sacrifice! I brought all my tapes (yes, cassette tapes) to the alter. I just knew that if I gave up secular music and media, I would be that much closer to God…. to fulfillment. *Queue the dramatic effects* In fact, this started what I call my “5-year hiatus”. Until now, there are songs, shows, and movies I’ve never heard of. In my mind, I “sacrificed” through the age of boy-bands, Team Britney or Team Christina… and so much more. But, during that time, I didn’t feel happy. It’s been more than 20 years since…. in retrospect, I was more judgmental than ever.
Internally, I demanded others to follow suit. And if they didn’t, I wanted no parts. Obviously, that caused many broken bridges. But, in my mind those who didn’t change were at fault… not me! Never me!
These petty offerings placed at the alter 5 years prior brought me towards anger, resentment, and hatred towards those who did not do the same! ….For goodness sake, it was just music!
After my “hiatus”, I took a good look at myself….. it was VERY sobering… my first husband and I divorced and he moved back to our hometown (across the country). I was left alone with 2 children… and everything was a whirlwind. I blamed him so much for leaving us! Not only did he leave me… he stopped communicating with the children. All 3 of us were left traumatized..
But, my 2nd question was:
- How do I know if it’s a person or circumstance (or even multiple people) I need to forgive?
In this scenario (my first divorce), I wasn’t looking for a “sorry.” I was the one who initiated it, so I felt like I got what I deserved. But, I was still angry. I knew it wasn’t healthy to live with the anger… but how else could I feel?
As years passed, I couldn’t pin-point who I was angry at…. was it anyone at all? Again, it was a chain of events set-off by my own choices… was it my circumstance?
So, I tucked that bit of anger in my back-pocket and carried it along with me from relationship to relationship….and over time, little hurts accumulated until my “pocket-sized anger” outgrew my pants!
Now, present-day…. different divorce, different scenario…. but, it’s FINALLY time to cleanse myself of the anger and pain that I most-likely initiated years-ago on my own!
Do I really need to look externally to forgive? Not always. I may be dealing with extreme hurt from my recent divorce. But, it might have been our own set of misdealings (separate and together, before and/or during our marriage) that lead us to the separation. Not just him… and not just me.
In this case, I need to forgive all of the above:
A person = me.
Multiple people = us.
Circumstances = the divorce.