December 28 marked the 4 year anniversary of my divorce. I celebrated this day.
Why? Because this was a new beginning.
Even though it was another two years before I went through deliverance with my Pastor, this was a day to celebrate. One of the very first sermons I remember my pastor preaching was on the Real “F” word (I’ll never forget it).
I thought to myself, no way, no how, was this happening.
I could NEVER forgive what had been done to me!!!
The staff gave the congregation sticky notes as we entered the church. As he went through his sermon, he was saying, I know you’ve been hurt, I know you’ve been treated badly, but you have to forgive the person/persons that have done this to you. I was literally bawling my eyes out thinking ‘how does he know all this about me’.
He said, you were given a sticky note when you came in today, I want you to write down the one person that has hurt you the most, the one thing that is tearing you up inside and I want you to bring it up here and put it on the stage, and then we are going to pray forgiveness and we are going to break those chains and we are going to move on.
He continued, I know you’re thinking why should I forgive this person, they are the one that hurt me, they should apologize, not me, but you have to get past this and the only way to do so is to FORGIVE.
As I continued crying my eyes out, I just could not bring myself to write my husband’s name on this sticky note, so I thought of someone else, something else, that was very low on the pain scale, but still held an anchor on me of anger and hatred.
I walked up to the stage, I placed my sticky note, and we prayed, and I continued crying thinking deep down, that what I really felt most hurt by was my husband. (we were not divorced yet, but he was gone overseas already at this point)
I went back to the church a few more times, but each time, the sermons were speaking to me and had me crying and I kept thinking, how does this guy up here (the Pastor) know EVERYTHING about me.
So I quit going, because the pain of his sermons reaching me deep down, was just too much to bear.
Over the course of the next 2 years, my life was a roller coaster of deep valleys and small mountains.
More valleys than mountains as I struggled as a single mom with a behaviorally, head strong child, working, mortgage, financial worries, and going through a divorce. I began to drink a lot more alcohol to drown out the pain, to the point of passing out most nights.
Then one night in November 2013, feeling like a failure because I was divorced and still single, I had gone to a sports bar with some friends and had a few too many, like most other nights.
I was in a very low valley at that point, and as I drove myself a mile and half down the road to get home, drunk, and crying my eyes out and screaming at God ‘why? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you making my life so miserable? Why do I deserve this? I am a good person, I work hard, I’m a good mom, why God why? I just want to be happy, is that too much to ask?’ I was beating my steering wheel to death as I was driving and yelling at God. I pulled in my garage, and I said to God, ‘I’m done!! I can’t take this pain anymore!! I just want to die!’ I left my car running, I closed the garage and I placed my head on the steering wheel, still crying a river.
About 30 seconds later, I heard a voice, it said, ‘Dawn, turn the car off, and go inside and go to bed.’ I lifted my head, looked around, and said, ‘ok.’ And I did just that. I went inside, and went to bed.
Over the course of the next few months I kept telling myself over and over, ‘I need to start going to church, I need to get right with God’, but I just could not bring myself to get there.
Finally I gave myself enough lead way and said, ok, I’m going to start going to church in the New Year, and I worked myself up to it for weeks, and then come January 2014, I made my commitment to go to church every weekend, and I quit making excuses and I reluctantly went every Sunday.
The struggle was real, my daughter was not having it, she kicked and screamed EVERY Sunday. I would show up at church in tears many Sundays because the struggle was soooo real. And the volunteers at the church would recognize my struggles, and they would pray over us. As the next few months went by it got easier. Someone approached me one day and said you should meet with the Pastor, she can help you with some of your challenges. Not really knowing what they meant, I agreed to set up a time to meet because I needed help and I knew it.
The first meeting she told me that I needed to make a list of every person I could think of that had hurt me, that I was angry with, that I had grudges against and we were going to pray over each situation to forgive them…..
Here we go again with ME forgiving THEM. Reluctantly, I agreed.
Through many tears, much stress and heartache, and near death, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
To forgive the person/persons who treated me so badly, who cheated on me, who lied to me over and over again, who left me abandoned with a child that I loved yet resented so badly, I had so much anger, so much hatred and so much resentment!
I hated myself, I hated every aspect of my life.
My pastors taught me that my daughter is a child of God (no matter who she was biologically) and HE would ALWAYS provide for her and they taught me that I must first forgive, even though I wasn’t at fault.
This was difficult. I struggled for years.
How could I forgive when I did nothing wrong, they needed to apologize…. NOT ME!
Finally I listened to them, finally I forgave, and FINALLY I felt the chains that bonded me to sorrow, self-pity, anger, resentment, and hurt, be broken.
Finally I felt free, happy, and loved.
I felt a stronger connection with my daughter, and we have worked so hard together to build a strong relationship/friendship that is nowhere near perfect, but 100 x better than what it was.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God, my church and pastors for all the blessings in my life.
There also isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pray that simple prayer that my pastors taught me for forgiveness.
You can do it too.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I CHOOSE to forgive ______, and I release them from all judgement. In Jesus name, amen.”
Until you do this, to whomever you feel hurt, angry or have a grudge against, you may never know the TRUE feeling of freedom.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Matthew 6:33