Webster defines forgiveness as the act of forgiving. This suggests that “something”, an act, must be completed in order for forgiveness to happen. For years, I’ve found this act to be extremely difficult and was unsure of how to engage in the act often referred to as forgiveness. I didn’t mind holding on to a grudge or what some may call un-forgiveness. I often felt as if letting go of what hurt or offended me would actually benefit that other person, but what I found myself doing was holding on to baggage that would ultimately weigh me down.
It’s easy for me to tell someone to open up and talk about their issues, their heartaches, their pains, their BAGS! Just like most things, talking about baggage is easier said than done. So today I’m going to lay it all on the line and talk about my bags.
The Punching Bag is by far the heaviest bag I ever had to carry. Until I was about 9 years old I was raised in a home that was riddled with domestic violence. The abused was my mother at the hands of my father. On a good day she’d get a fist or two in, or maybe even start and win the fight. I was always emotionally drained and torn over who to love and whose side to choose, if a side was to be chosen. Someone had to be blamed for the violence and even though my father was WRONG, I blamed my mother. So how has this bag affected me? It’s difficult for me to trust, I never wanted to get married, as a teenager I was combative and today I carry with me the potential to be verbally abusive. It takes an act of God, at times, for me to take the high road because the low road comes naturally.
The Grab Bag is that woman raised without a father. Mine left when I was about 10 years old, so yes that one belonged to me too. I was always looking at other fathers and their relationships with their children, desiring something that was clearly not destined for me. I spent years longing for a relationship that would never come. It took some time and a discussion with a friend for me to realize that I wasn’t the only one and that I could be and feel whole without that relationship. When I look at the behavior of other women who carry this bag, I’m so glad this one was short lived with me. Relationships with men don’t define who I am as a woman, God has already done that. I released The Grab Bag quite some time ago.
The Money Bag was mine too. I’ve been broke, bankrupt and without a financial clue. My financial troubles came at my own hand so there was never anyone to blame but myself. If I was big enough to blame myself, I was big enough to forgive myself. I let that part of me go. I’m older and wiser and consider each dime before it’s spent. If this is you too, know that if you lose some things in this life, you can rebuild. Losing your mind in the process of losing material things just isn’t worth it.
The Medical Bag is mine, and it’s one that I need to let go. My husband is a disabled veteran and I always place his needs before my own. I have children whose health comes before mine and I’ve spent time caring for other family members even when I didn’t feel well myself. After a trip to the ER this year, I acknowledged that the Medical Bag belongs to me. Now that I’ve owned up to owning this bag, I’m working at making sure my health needs are met. I’m slowly but surely letting it go!
The next bag I held probably drove my entire family crazy, it’s the Computer Bag. I’d work all day, go to school at night, and fall asleep with books in my face and the computer in my lap. With three and sometimes four small children in the house, you could hear a pin drop because everyone knew that mommy was working and not even daddy was allowed to make a sound! I’ve let this bag go as well and learned how to put my family before work.
As a woman, you may be afraid to admit that you have bags. You may be afraid to admit that they helped shape who you are today, but I’m not. I will tell you what I am afraid of. I’m afraid of holding on to hurt, guilt & shame. I refuse to live in a state of un-forgiveness. Life has taught me that forgiveness is for me and not for the offender. Forgiveness helped me to take ownership of my life and helped me to move on. Forgiveness has kept me from beating myself up about all of the HUGE mistakes I’ve made.
If you decide to carry anything with you from what you’ve read above, I would hope it’s forgiveness! Always forgive others and forgive yourself. The next time you take a look in the mirror repeat these words, “Forgiveness Is For Me!”
The definition of FORGIVE transitive verb 1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult> b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt> 2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one's enemies. Definition of FORGIVENESS: the act of forgiving