All Articles Tagged "forgiveness"
What does it mean to forgive?
That has been the question of the hour after the terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina left nine Black people dead inside of what was supposed to be a safe place.
There has been a lot of pushback to the idea that Dylann Roof deserves forgiveness, particularly from the families who offered it to him during his bond hearing for the single gun charge.
Yesha Callahan writes in a passionate piece titled “Dear Black People: Stop Being So Forgiving“:
I’m going to need black people to stop being so forgiving. This forgiveness thing has plagued us for centuries. I’m quite sure forgiveness was taught to black people by slave masters, the same people who taught black people Christianity. Isn’t it ironic?
Throughout history, black people have been benevolent and forgiving. And where has that gotten us? It’s gotten the families in South Carolina a white judge who told them in front of a merciless killer that they should forgive.
No other group of people have been expected to be so forgiving to those who’ve hated, killed and made them second class citizens. Has anyone yet asked or expected Holocaust survivors to forgive?
Roof’s act of domestic terrorism was a calculated and premeditated act. Fuck forgiving him.
And for those who say that forgiveness some how makes your heart better? Show me receipts and prove it.
Echoing those sentiments is Xolela Mangcu, a professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, who wrote for The Root:
In every discussion of racial injustice – whether in South Africa or the United States – the first consideration is to white feelings. South Africa is in the midst of a national debate about affirmative action. My own university, the University of Cape Town, did away with race-based affirmative action on the grounds that qualified white students were being excluded in favor of unqualified black students. The mobilization of sympathy for these ‘poor’ white kids is blind to the structural exclusion of black kids by not only the admissions process but by a culture that says these institutions properly belong to Whites. White supremacy reproduces itself by a combination of entitlement to privilege and forgiveness, and an entitlement to black lives as whites present themselves as victims of reverse racism.
I am on the fence. I get it. I get accountability. I get confronting White supremacy, or rather, getting White supremacy to confront itself. Likewise, those in the church have used respectability and the Bible as a way to temper activism and also to inflict harm on others, in particular, the LGBTQ community and women. As such, forgiveness can seem a lot like compliance. At the same time, I am extremely uncomfortable having this conversation right now when the families of these victims – the people who are most affected by these terrorist attacks – are hurting so much.
I don’t know how I would react if I were in that position. I do know that I have held grudges for less. I would like to think that I would be angry, and I would like to think that I would go full Clyde Shelton in the film Law Abiding Citizen and take everybody out. But who is to say? Thank God I am not, and have never been, in that position. In reality, I would more than likely feel helpless, deterred and depressed as opposed to feeling like a vigilante out for justice. And I would probably be wondering to God, why?
What I do know is that extending the olive branch is not something that Black people only do for White people. In Rwanda, where the genocide was Black on Black, Hutu on Tutsi to be more exact, the survivors granted forgiveness as a way to move on. In North Minneapolis, 59-year-old Mary Byrd not only forgave Oshea Israel, who shot her only child, Laramiun, to death during an argument at a party, but she peacefully lives next door to him.
Writer Lauren Giordano profiled Everett Worthington, a professor of psychology at Virginia Community University whose 78-year-old mother was murdered during a home burglary. It was an article in The Atlantic called “The Forgiveness Boost.” Prior to his mother’s murder, Worthington had been actively studying how and why people forgive and even created a method to help others in their own effort to forgive. Naturally, being faced with the reality of what had previously just been a theory was a hard pill to swallow. But Worthington decided to follow through with his method, which included recalling the incident, empathizing, altruistically forgiving, committing to the process and finally, holding on to forgiveness even when anger resurfaces.
And as Giordano wrote of Worthington, the hardest part was empathizing with the man who viciously took the life of his mother. But, “What helped on the empathy front, Worthington says, was that after the intruder killed McNeill, he ran from room to room, smashing all of the mirrors with the crowbar—even in the rooms he didn’t search. Worthington took it as a sign that he couldn’t look at himself.”
Through this process, Worthington told Giordano that he was not only able to forgive in less than a month, but his life was better for the experience. Whereas his brother, who had never forgiven the killer and held onto the anger and pain, killed himself several years later. In the piece, Giordano also wrote about the benefits of forgiveness:
But beyond that, forgiving people are markedly physically healthier than unforgiving ones. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that participants who considered themselves more forgiving had better health across five measures: physical symptoms, the number of medications used, sleep quality, fatigue, and medical complaints. The study authors found that this was because the process of forgiveness tamped down negative emotions and stress.
In other words, forgiveness at times is more than offering someone a pass for their crimes or misdeeds against you. But rather, it is a matter of reaffirming faith, and in some cases, gaining faith. It is a crutch when all else feels hopeless. And it is a matter of moving on instead of being held hostage by pain that is more harmful to you personally than it will ever be helpful.
I am not these families, but I imagine there are probably a few relatives struggling with living after losing someone they loved so much. And their faith and the act of forgiveness is probably the only thing making life bearable right now. I don’t know about anyone else, but who the hell am I to question that or try to take that away from them?
As many of you know by now, a lone gunman Dylann Roof opened fire in a church in Charleston, S.C., killing 9 people. As I sat stunned learning the details of this act of hatred and terrorism, all I could think of was how these people thought they were simply going to bible study to worship and then return home safe and sound to their families. I’m sure not one of them thought that they’d take their last breath in the house of the Lord that night. Their world ended with a gunshot – life taken without warning. It brings home the saying that tomorrow is never promised to you. To us. To anyone.
But without a deadline, many of us don’t live life as if it’s our last day on earth…every day. There’s no urgency to say “I love you,” or “I’m sorry,”…no urgency to do something we know we should do, or always wanted to do. Since we cannot conceive of an end to ourselves, we think we have all the time in the world to do what we want when we get good and ready.
But if you knew the world would end tomorrow, what would you do today? What would you say to those you care about, or even to those who have no idea how you feel about them? Who would you want to spend your last few hours with, and what would you be doing?
Since most of us don’t have the luxury of knowing when we’ll take our last breath, or when someone we love will be taken from us, it makes sense that we should tell those we love that we love them every chance we get. I never hang up the phone with my mother, father, sister or other family members without saying “I love you.” Ever. It’s something that’s been ingrained in me since childhood – my mother never let my sister and I go to bed angry with each or without saying “I love you.” And I’m so grateful she instilled that in us.
But I can’t say the same about my girlfriends…or my male friends for that matter. If I somehow I knew I would not be here tomorrow, instead of assuming they knew how I felt about them, I’d pick up the phone and call each and every one of them to let them know that I love and appreciate them all for their friendship, encouragement and support. If you’re reading this post, that means you!
But aside from love, what about forgiveness? Is there someone out there you’re holding a grudge against? Or is there someone out there you need to apologize to and ask forgiveness from? If so, what is keeping you from doing it? Whatever it is, let it go. Forgiveness is a powerful thing…whether granting it or asking for it. But since tomorrow isn’t promised to you, don’t hold onto or reject anything that doesn’t bring you peace.
If you could do anything in the world with your life, and knew you wouldn’t fail – what would it be? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Many of us keep ourselves from doing bigger and better things in our lives because we live in fear – we’re afraid to fail, or to reach higher than our outstretched hand can grasp. Let go of your fears, don’t cling to the past, and accept the invitation to grow. Let your life unfold into a stream of amazing moments.
To me, living each day of your life as if it’s your last is about being grateful, and expressing that gratitude with every breath you take. We should be grateful for each experience that teaches us something and for whoever comes into our lives – because each has been sent as a guide from above. Every morning is a new arrival, and each day is a chance to do better, to be better and to love harder.
The moment we realize this it’s amazing how the universe brings more love to your doorstep, begins to help you achieve your goals and works in your favor. The universe is God’s self portrait, and since no one knows when it’ll end but Him, put Him behind the thoughts that guide your every word, your every emotion and your every action. You’ll train yourself to be in the habit of giving love and showing gratitude every day of your life, and you’ll live each day with no regrets.
Don’t some people just make you sick?
Seriously, isn’t there one person who has come and gone from your life who made you wish they would turn into dust on sight because of the grief they caused you?
Everyone has had the unfortunate experience of dealing with anguish, and it’s typically brought on at the hands of someone they once loved or tried to. No matter what you felt you did right, that person still broke your heart and did you wrong.
For most, the initial reaction is to become bitter and wish you never met that person. However, there’s another way you can deal with the misery they caused you if you haven’t fully let things go. In fact, I have a few ways you can move beyond the pain, get to a point in your life where you’ll want to thank those who once made you cry, and realize the role they played in your life. I know this sounds a little strange, but hear me out.
There’s an old saying that goes, “People enter your life as a lesson or a blessing.” But the truth is, they’re both. The blessing can be the lesson you learn from them, but it’s up to you to decide what you will take away from the experience. The whole point of someone entering your life is to improve your character in some way for a greater purpose to be fulfilled. So don’t hate the person who hurt you, be glad they did because you wouldn’t have learned what you were supposed to otherwise.
Getting over a past transgression is not an easy thing to do. It’s a step-by-step process that takes time. The first step is to accept what was done. This is a struggle for many because it is difficult to believe that someone could cut you to the depths of your soul, especially someone you once cared about. But they can, and it’s important to get a grip on it, or it’ll have a grip on you. One way to accept the hurt is to revisit it, think about why it shook you up, and take note of how not to go down that road again. After this, it’s time to make up in your mind that you’re going to move beyond the hurt and let it go. So many people hold grudges in their heart and spirit because they haven’t released grief mentally. Believe it or not, this can hinder your progress and future blessings. Never let a person rent space in your head for free, especially one who disappointed you and probably isn’t even thinking about you.
If you’re still having trouble with letting things go, the possible next step is to confront the wrongdoer. Tell them directly how they made you feel and a few other things that may come to mind without getting ugly, but rather, in the hopes of getting closure.
If you can’t muscle up the guts to face them, write them a letter, send a message via social media (in their inbox of course), or call them. Go through whatever method you are most comfortable with and express yourself freely. Just be sure you get everything off your chest (in a nonconfrontational manner), and then you’re free to have your own private release party. I suggest shoe shopping! It always works for me, but whatever you do, be sure it helps you with your healing process.
As long as we are alive we will experience pain and suffering at the hands of those we love–and a few strangers. It’s just a part of life. But how well we react to it and what we take away from it all will determine the depths of our character and how far we walk into our greatness. So the next time you think about a person who broke your spirit, or you so happen to run into them, be sure to thank them for helping you become a better person for a better purpose.
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? a speaker, and an advocate for single women. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
All relationships have their ups and downs that can make us question if they’re worth trying to save. After all, there are no perfect people, so we can’t expect our relationships to be perfect either.
The truth of the matter is friendships can be hard to maintain at times. Life, distance and other factors can get in the way. If you and your bestie are no longer close, it might be time to make a few changes. Here are some tips on ways to mend a broken friendship.
In life, everyone is bound to make a mistake or two. As wonderful as you think you are, there will be something you say or do that’s considered offensive to others. Then there are times when other people fall short of your standards that can cause resentment and anger. The question is whether or not you’ll forgive them.
If you think holding a grudge is a great character trait, you’re wrong. Here are some ways it damages your life and career.
So there I was, tired as all get-out, watching and live-tweeting “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” I spent a good part of the day (from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at church, singing in my choir for Palm Sunday. By the time it hit 8 p.m. EST, I was already ready to be in bed. However, a lively debate woke me up as I tweeted, and while it came about because of the reality show, it wasn’t necessarily a debate about the ladies.
It was a debate about what it means to forgive.
If you watched last night’s episode, I’m sure you peeped the scene where Kandi and Phaedra talked about Phaedra’s newfound friendship with NeNe. Despite the ugly things NeNe said about Phaedra in the past, she managed to change and has grown to like the Southern belle. Phaedra chose to forgive and forget because NeNe has been a supportive shoulder to cry on as she’s watched Apollo get himself thrown back into prison—this time, with two kids directly impacted by his decisions.
According to Kandi, who still cares very little for NeNe, if Phaedra can forgive her, it should be a cake walk when it comes to forgiving Kenya.
It’s safe to say that Phaedra was not feeling that idea, calling it “a matter of opinion.” And if you’ve watched past seasons, I’m sure you know why Phaedra would be hesitant to make amends with Kenya. Despite Apollo admitting that Kenya never tried to sleep with him as he had previously claimed, the two did admit to sending text messages to one another without Phaedra’s knowledge (they claimed the messages were about business). Plus, our own eyes watched Kenya flirt with Apollo during their trip to Anguilla, and in Mexico, even doing so in front of Phaedra’s face. At a certain point, it went from being the harmless behavior of an overly flirtatious person, to being outright disrespectful. But alas, both Apollo and Kenya were in the wrong.
So with that in mind, I asked whether or not Kandi had oversimplified everything based on the actions both NeNe and Kenya displayed in the past. One talked trash while the other flirted with Phaedra’s husband AND talked trash.
While it would be nice to see Phaedra let bygones be bygones, let’s not pretend like this is such a simple task, especially when all parties involved are clearly still hurt.
Kenya actually felt some type of way about the question I tweeted. She responded to it by saying that it didn’t matter what she did to her in the past–if Phaedra is the Christian she claims to be, she should be able to forgive easily.
I understand what Kenya is trying to say, but I disagree about the following two things:
For one, people tend to forgive and let go of pain at their own pace. Every time these women get together for a trip or a dinner, they’re trying to force a peace treaty to happen so that the offender can have a clear conscience. This happened in the Philippines. But did we not just watch Kenya get a kick out of helping Cynthia confront Phaedra about rumors that she was cheating in front of everyone? Now, a few weeks later, you want someone to “engage” in a conversation with you to make peace? It’s not always that simple.
And secondly, with this group of women, and many other people, they believe that with forgiveness comes immediate friendship.
Please don’t play yourself.
Sometimes people can forgive and find it possible to be friends with someone after all the betrayal and shenanigans. Phaedra did that with NeNe. And even NeNe did that with former housewife Kim Zolciak, and vice versa. But every person is different. At the end of the day, just because I forgive you for something harsh you did to me doesn’t mean that you haven’t displayed a character flaw that makes it hard for me to trust you again. Being cordial, being pleasant and being supportive when one needs such support is a lot different from, I forgave you, now let’s be BFFs.
To me, that’s where Kenya always has gone wrong. People can forgive you and not necessarily want to be associated with you. That’s just something you have to know and move on from. At the end of the day, forgiveness is about that person—they are moving past a certain attitude or feeling of vengefulness caused by a specific offense on your part. But that doesn’t mean they want to be chummy with you, and that’s okay.
So for everyone who assumes that forgiveness equates to friendship, pump your brakes. As for Phaedra, while I can’t fault her for being upset, she should forgive Kenya. Holding on to that bitterness will only hurt her (and halt her blessings as a professed Christian) down the line. But as for Kandi, Kenya and the like, they need to allow her to forgive and move forward when it feels best for HER to do so. To force it for the cameras would be phony. At the end of the day, one can forgive you for the pain you’ve caused, but not everyone is down to forget about the person you’ve proven yourself to be.
On Sunday night’s episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta, the ladies (minus NeNe) took a long arse flight to the Philippines to kick back, relax, and finally handle their issues. By the end of the episode, Porsha was bickering with Claudia again, Cynthia was seeking to make amends with Phaedra, and the Southern belle and Kenya finally decided to sit down and work on their problems. Are pigs flying or nah?
Let’s chat about all that went down on RHOA ep. 19.
The Women Prepare To Hit The Unfriendly Skies
As the episode begins, the ladies pull up at the airport, faces beat to perfection, trying their best to get along since they’ll have to travel for more than 20 hours together. Oooh child! My knees hurt at the thought.
After therapy with Dr. Jeff, the ladies seem to be friendly enough with one another as they arrive–the only exception being Ms. Phaedra Parks. As she pulls up curbside, she tells Porsha that she would like to stay in her car until time for check-in because she doesn’t want to be anywhere near Cynthia after the Mr. Chocolate shenanigans. Porsha encourages her to actually try and mix and mingle with the ladies, which Phaedra reluctantly ends up doing.
My heart goes out to women like Karrueche Tran and Keyshia Cole. They’re in the public eye, and they had to suffer through the devastation of learning that their men stepped out on them with other women. Being in the public eye puts them in a position to be heavily criticized if they make the decision, for themselves, to take Chris and “Booby” back. I couldn’t deal with that.
I was cheated on by my fiance many moons ago, and deciding to take him back wasn’t an easy decision to come to. It took a lot of time and a lot of healing. Taking a man back after he’s cheated requires a different level of strength. You have to be an extraordinarily strong woman to continue to love and live with a person after they’ve betrayed your trust in such a way.
So how does one deal after finding out that their man has been emotionally or sexually connecting with someone else? Though every individual has their own way of dealing with a cheating spouse, here’s what I did and what you can try if you’re considering taking him back.
Do Not Blame Yourself
For a lot of women, including myself, the natural reaction to learning that your man ran to someone else is to question your own worthiness and actions. You ask yourself, “what did I do that pushed him out the door and into the arms of another woman?” And when the comparisons between yourself and the other woman begin to cloud your mind, you ask yourself, “what didn’t I do?”
I would hope that Cole and Tran have a solid grip on the reality that when a man cheats, it rarely has much to do with you. They made that decision for themselves, and people who bend over backwards for their man can still be cheated on.
However, if you have the sudden urge for self-improvement based upon your experience, go for it! These kinds of things have an interesting way of fueling a woman to strive for better. However, be careful not to confuse bettering yourself with stopping your man’s infidelity. As far as his character goes, he has some obvious issues to unpack and that is not your fault, girl.
Give Yourself Some Time
When I took my fiance back, my best friend said to me, “You let him back already?! Girl you should have at least made him suffer for a few more months.” She was right. There should be a literal “cooling off” period. The last thing we care about after our man has stepped out on us is his feelings, but it’s unfair to him and unhealthy for you to allow him back into your life soon after learning that he’s been creeping. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and yourself, because living together with built-up anger and distrust is like trying to build a home on top of a minefield.
When you have unresolved emotions lingering and a man who’s trying to go back to normal as quickly as he can, the healing process for both of you will be delayed. You don’t have to put an exact date and time on when you’ll take him back, but there needs to be some time for you to just sort through YOUR emotions before you decide to face him and all the mess you’ll both have to untangle. If you can, pretend you’re Usher and let it burn for a little while. It will do you both some good in the long run.
If You Decide To Forgive, You Probably Should Forget
A lot of us can forgive our men for cheating, but many of us don’t believe in letting him forget what he did. For him, being reminded of his mistake won’t be anything more than annoying, but for you, it can be like reliving that first day of heartbreak all over again.
If you’ve accepted him back, you’ve decided that you want to make it work, so bringing up the past or harping on it in your mind is a no-no. It’s easier to simply stick to solutions when talking about what happened, but be mindful that you can’t live in the past when you’re trying to create a future with someone.
In order to live in peace after you’ve forgiven him, you will have to set your attention on rebuilding the trust, not on thinking about the act of infidelity. Learning to trust again is painful, but that pain lasts longer when you’re constantly digging up the past. It keeps you in that negative space and it’s counterproductive to what you and your spouse are trying to do.
Skip The Details
I remember wanting to know everything that went down between my fiance and the other woman. I wanted to know so much so that I reached out to her and asked her to send me all the photos, text messages and emails from him. Well, she did. I was even more devastated.
Digging for details is like pouring salt on an open wound. If you’ve already made the decision to accept him back, then trying to find out any and everything is unnecessary and does more harm than good.
Trust me, you don’t really want to know all of the details. For the most part, you will only see and understand what your hurting heart perceives, but you’ll rarely get the full truth. Skip all the details and focus solely on rebuilding if that’s what you want to do.
Depending on how well you know this man, you should quickly be able to figure out if what happened was truly a mistake, or if this will be the first of many uphill battles when it comes to your man’s infidelity. As a human, being flawed is expected and inevitable. But a woman should not allow herself to constantly be disrespected by a man who can’t commit to only her. Taking him back after multiple cheating incidents will begin to set a precedent in your relationship. It lets him and the world know that you are down for whatever. If that is what you agreed to, so be it, but be careful not to continuously take this man back simply because you are in love with what he “could be.”
In the end, taking a cheating spouse back is a difficult decision to make. But in some cases, surprisingly, doing so can completely change the relationship for the better.
There are very few things that can leave me puzzled in life, but one of those things is the ability some people have to compartmentalize their behaviors. What I mean by that is how some people have the ability to create a reaction, and then ignore all consequences after it.
I just can’t wrap my mind around it. One of these things is how people can hurt someone, and then not only refuse to apologize, but when they see you they never mention it. There’s no apology, there’s no explanation, or even the poor excuse of: “Sorry, I was having a bad day.” It’s just: “Hey, I have some extra slices to this pizza, you want some?” Not only is it confusing, but it’s also a little alarming. (Are they just trying to finish you off with the pizza so they don’t have to apologize from now on? What’s your game?!)
Maybe I’m too much of an empathetic person, but I don’t feel right if I’ve wronged someone and didn’t apologize, or at least talked about what happened. Even if I don’t feel like I’m in the wrong, I’ll apologize if my tone is too harsh, or if my choice of words made them feel attacked. Or I’ll apologize for my reactions. I feel like this should be the norm.
Sadly, it’s not. You’re going to come in contact (or be related to) people who will do and say horrible and mean things to you, and the next time you see them won’t say anything about it. They know they hurt you, and some of those people were purposely trying to hurt you.
As much as you might want to just cut them out of your life, this is for the people who you can’t. Either you’re related to them, living with them, or working with them, you have to interact with them when they feel as though they did nothing wrong. This is when loving a person from afar only does so much. When getting human resources involved and the solution is to just be cordial while you finish your work together. It’s a very unpleasant situation to be in, but it’s not an impossible one.
Being around people who have wronged you, but refuse to address it can be frustrating, but it takes some skill on your part to handle it.
First, you have to accept the fact that you can’t change them. You can’t make them see how you feel, or address what they don’t want to address. If they feel as though they did nothing wrong, nothing that you can do or say is going to change it. They have to decide to make that decision on their own.
Second, you have to embrace yourself and find closure on your own. When people do and say horrible things and then go about their lives unfazed, it can sometimes have an effect on us that makes us wonder if they were right in their harsh words. Sometimes someone else’s ease and confidence they have in hurting us can make us begin to believe whatever negative propaganda that they have been spewing at us.
However, this is the time that you have to gain confidence in who you are. Instead of accepting what someone else is saying about you, know who you are! Know what’s a lie, and what’s constructive criticism. Know what you need to fix and what was said in an attempt to break you down. Know that you are more than the negative, and you have positive attributes, and if you have to write them down to remember them, then do so. A few words from someone else can break us down so much, and it’s up to use to rebuild ourselves.
Finally, assess the necessity of holding on to it. Sometimes when people hurt us we want to just hold on to that pain as a reminder of how the person really is, and have it justify why we shouldn’t trust them. Now, I’m not saying that you have to trust them, or even like them. What I’m saying is that you have to love yourself, and part of loving yourself is to not bog yourself down with unnecessary pain. Carrying all that baggage is more so a pain on you, and you’re not punishing them by holding on to it. You’re punishing yourself.
You’re going to be forced to interact with a-holes in your life, and many of them won’t see their own faults, but will be quick to tell you yours. They will create impossible standards for you to live up to so that when you fail they feel justified in being condescending to you.
But in those times, remember that you are more than just one person’s negative critiques… whether you get the apology or not.
There are times in our lives when things happen that are just unforgivable. It could be something unthinkable or a petty event we just can’t seem to shake. Have you ever felt this way in the workplace? You aren’t a bad person if you get angry, but you are missing out if you don’t forgive. Here are some pointers on how to let it go on the job.