I think of it as an impossible task. Yes. It’s nearly impossible to forgive, or so it appears. Alright, before you go all out criticising my thinking, just know that I was only joking.
Forgiveness is very possible, and indeed, a very necessary act in our day-to-day interpersonal relationships. It’s our opportunity to reciprocate what God has done for us. (Forgive those who offend you even as your Father in heaven forgives you -Matthew 6:14). Okay, enough of the big grammar.
I’d like to crave your indulgence as I share with you my own story and trust me, it’s real; no elements of fiction whatsoever. This is one of the first times I’m doing this; sharing stuffs so personal to me on such a public space but I’m right here in my bed at 3:34am Thursday morning typing this. I know there’s definitely someone out there who will be blessed by reading this and I know because God told me to do this.
I grew up in a slum called Bariga, somewhere in Lagos, Nigeria. Believe me, it was a real back-of-town slum but our side was kind of toosh (meaning relatively cozy). My Dad and Mum decided to raise their children up in the best possible way despite the environment we were. I guess that was the best they could afford and sure, it was good enough. Sweet and loving parents with three wonderful kids; a really beautiful family. Daddy was a typical African father; strict to the core. Mummy was a trader who went to the market in the morning and came back late at night. Somewhere along the line, I honestly had no idea what happened but Daddy was no longer as around as he used to be. You’re getting a hold of the story already, right? Yeah, I guess.
Predictably so, he was already seeing someone else and getting into politics and what have you. Those were growing up years for me and as a boy-child, I longed for a Daddy’s presence and none was there. Nobody to teach me how to play ball, how to knot ties or tie shoe laces; nobody to buy me video games and all the boyish things I saw my mates have. Now don’t get me wrong, Mummy was and still is super caring. God bless my Mother! But she just wouldn’t buy the video games and was quite busy at her shop making ends meet to feed three children all alone, that she probably never had the time to teach me how to knot a tie.
These little things do matter, at least to kids.
Well, we grew up to secondary school days and we (I and my elder sister and my younger brother) were all knowledgeable enough by then to know that Daddy now had two more wives and three or four other children. Annoying and disgusting, right? Leaving Mummy all alone to pay our school fees, the house rent and feed three growing teenagers. I think it’s the height of irresponsibility. (But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel -1 Timothy 5:8). To be honest resentment began to build up in my heart against him.
Then this day came when Dad got back from one of his many travels and he and Mummy got arguing. Out of nowhere, he raised his hand to beat my mother and that was the end! I hated him so much from that day on!
It’s one thing to leave us all alone but it’s another to come back broke, eat from this woman’s pot, sleep under her roof and still have the guts to lay your hands on her to beat her! I don’t give a hoot about what she said or did to get you angry. You ain’t got no right to do such a thing but I was only thirteen or so then and could do nothing but watch them from the window, Mummy screaming and neighbors coming in to save the day.
Years passed and he never apologized nor took responsibility for us. His excuse? He didn’t have money because politics didn’t favour his party so he relocated to the village to continue farming and living there with his two other wives. One year like that his party got into power and he sent some meagre ten thousand naira to us. I was already in first year medical school then and I was infuriated. What were three grown ups supposed to do with ten thousand naira in this twenty first century? It couldn’t even feed us for a week. I felt like calling him to ask for his account number and sending him back his money but Mummy cooled me off.
Fast forward and I was praying one day with my sweet and amazing fiancée in my final year medical school and the Lord said to me…
Let it Go.
Femi, Let it Go
Now that was rib-cracking. It must be a joke, right? Let go of everything? The years when I had to play father figure for my younger brother because Daddy wasn’t there. The hurting feelings from a childhood not well enjoyed because Daddy wasn’t there. The thoughts of feeling inferior when others said their Daddies bought them gifts and gave them beautiful birthday gifts and I could only look away because Daddy wasn’t there. No! Letting go of all that was actually easy. But to think that when he had the opportunity to come back and make things right, he only further complicated things by beating up the woman who was there all along -the only human support system I knew? Now that was hard and impossible to let go.
I broke down in tears going through the negative pent-up emotions and I knew God was right. I was bleeding inside and there was no way for me to heal than to let go of the dagger that was piercing me. It was in my hands, I only had to make the choice.
Trust me when I say it was hard, it really was. I cried for close to an hour that night, hot tears. I cried out the anger, the resentment and bitterness and in the end, I confessed my sin of harbouring all these towards my father. And guess what? I felt PEACE… YES… PEACE LIKE A RIVER! It wasn’t instant, but it came and I began healing up again. Proverbs 17:22 says that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Forgiveness mends the broken pieces of your spirit and gives you a merry heart. It is truly an amazing medicine.
You may ask me if we are back on talking terms now. Well, kind of. But I’ve put all that anger and bitterness behind me. It’s not worth it and it would never be. The past is past. I choose to live for now and the future rather than remaining chained to the past. I choose to move on. So I say to you:
Forgiveness is key! Forgive and let it go.
I recently blocked his number from calling my phone… Lol… I can’t deal with him trying to monitor me.. Like he cares… Lol.. But... I love him and pray for him daily… I’ve let it go!
Whao… 4:17am Thursday Morning
Footnotes: Please, I’d love you to comment down here on the following question:
Do you have to relate with the person who offended you the way things were before the offense once you’ve chosen to forgive them? Is that part of forgiveness too? I’m looking forward to your comments. Thanks.