In real life I am a volunteer community chaplain. I have been involved with suicide prevention and awareness for over 20 years, and I’m also a survivor of domestic abuse, which led to my being homeless. I originally wrote this article for a men’s group; and so apologize in advance for the gendered tone, and fully state that the principals involved work for us all.
Over the years I have heard heart breaking stories of pain and hardship that people have suffered, and that people have caused, and stories where crap just happened through no fault of anyone or thing. (I’m a ex dairyman..so sorry if the word “crap” offends – but its second nature to me.) And I have learned that it washes off.
One of the greatest challenges that I believe men face is that of what do we do with bitterness? What do we do with resentment? What do we do with unforgiveness.?
In asking these questions I want to first state that forgiveness does not mean we sweep under the carpet what was done to us..nor what ever else we have done. It doesn’t mean that we pretend the crap that happened didn’t happen.
Instead before the process of forgiveness can start; we have to fully acknowledge the hurt, the pain, the heart ache, the heart break, and that we have a right to be hurt in our bodies, mind and spirit. Within a Christian framework, I believe that God has given us all our emotions and the ability to feel hurt, and pain – and that its natural to be angry with what happens to us, what others have done, or even with ourselves because of the stupid things we have done…and hold against ourselves.
Previously I wrote that I am a survivor of domestic abuse. For many years I was a victim. But gradually I worked through the pain, the heart ache, the hurts, the victimization and all the other crap that went with it – and indeed on many levels, I am still a work in progress.
I had a right to be angry. I had a right to be hurt. I had a right to feel like shit. I had a right to be confused. I had a right to cry. I had a right to feel depressed. –
But, I also have a right to be at peace. I have a right to be healed. I have a right to feel good. I have a right to have soundness of mind. I have a right to laugh. And I have a right to feel good in body, mind and spirit – and not tied to my past…nor defined by my past.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are weak. I say forgiveness takes courage. It takes balls. It takes big kahoonas to start the journey of forgiveness. It takes determination to release our resentment. It takes resilience to let go of our bitterness.
The reality is though, if we want to be healthy men. If we want to be strong men. If we want to be honorable men. We need to start on that journey of forgiveness – so that what ever we have done, or has been done to us…doesn’t define who we are… instead it releases us to be who we are meant to be.