Forgiveness

Today’s piece was birthed from a short string of correspondence that I had with my beloved. Though emotionally and physically estranged from one another, we have maintained communication. And as a result, I haven’t completely been able to move forward because my heart longs for this man who made the decision that we should split. That being said, I wanted clarity. I know from the past that unanswered questions have the potential to drive me crazy, so I wanted to ward off a return to entertaining old strongholds. Nevertheless, in asking questions, I have also learned that we may not receive the answer we hoped to hear. So here is the message I sent to him just yesterday. Mind you, I prayed that God would help me accept whatever response was returned, and to move forward in peace and love.

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While it wasn’t exactly the response I was hoping for, it wasn’t a “no”. At the present moment I am not sure that the “maybe” I received has brought me solace or more confusion. At any rate, what latched onto my spirit was my beloved’s statement, “I just need time to heal and clear my head so maybe one day I can forgive”. Forgive.

Forgiveness seems so very simple in theory, but the reality of the action can seem insurmountable for many. I heard somewhere that forgiveness isn’t for the other person (the one who “wronged” us), but forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. I agree with this logic because when we harbor feelings of unforgiveness, it is only stunting our growth and development. All too often those we feel have done us wrong may have no idea that what they said and/or did impacted us in such a profound way as to leave us crippled or damaged emotionally and/or psychologically. Words, which have the power to uplift or destroy, have lasting conscious and subconscious effects on our psyche.

As part of my healing process, I have immersed myself in the music of India Arie, a kindred spirit. Ironically enough, the lyrics to India Arie’s “The Heart of the Matter” rose with me this morning.

I got a call today, I didn’t wanna hear/but I knew that it would come/An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone/She said you found someone/And I thought of all the bad luck,/And all the struggles we went through/How I lost me and you lost you/What are all these voices outside love’s open door/Make us throw off our contentment/And beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now/But I miss you sometimes/The more I know, the less I understand/All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning them again/I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter/But my will gets weak/And my thoughts seem to scatter/But I think it’s about forgiveness/Forgiveness/Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore…

These lines capture the Sound Track of My Life. On the heels of healing from this recent break up, I do find myself missing my beloved sometimes. My thoughts are oftentimes scattered. My will to remain positive does often get weak. And I know with all certainty that forgiveness is at the heart of this matter of brokenness.

After I listened to the song a couple more times I sent the link of a live performance to my beloved. I’m not sure he understood where I was coming from, but I’ve recently decided that I won’t take anything personally. And that includes the lack of response. Afterwards, I went in search of scripture on the topic of forgiveness. Below are those that resonated with my spirit.

Forgiveness Scriptures

Matthew 6: 14-15 (MSG)

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”

Mark 11: 25 (MSG)

“If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 (MSG)

“We certainly don’t look at him [people] that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!”

Isaiah 43: 25 (Amplified)

“I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

Daniel 9: 9 (MSG)

“Compassion is our only hope…”

If we work with the logic that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, then Matthew 6: 14-15 proves that unforgiveness leaves us at a deficit with God—making it impossible for Him to send us the healing that will propel us to our “next level” experience.

Likewise, Mark 11:25 is also proof that we cannot receive forgiveness of our wrongdoings if we haven’t in fact forgiven others.

In the case of 2 Corinthians 5: 17 God is calling us to relinquish our view of the “old man” who “wronged” us. He is calling us to see each other with new eyes. When I woke this morning the following prayer sprang from spirit, out of my mouth, and onto the pages of my notebook/journal:

Lord, help us to see ourselves as you see us. All too often when we look in the mirror the image we see is untrue. We see a fragmented, broken, incapable, unlovable person because of what has been said and/or done to us. But God, give us new eyes that allow us to see our [and other’s] truth—who we are through your eyes.

When we consider Isaiah 43: 25 we find the absolute TRUTH about forgiveness. God himself “blots out and cancels” the remembrance of our wrongdoing(s). And it isn’t for our sake because He says, “…for My own sake…” There you have it right there. Forgiving others is truly something we do for ourselves–for our healing, growth, and spiritual development.

And finally, in Daniel 9: 9 we find the simple solution to the “woes” of humanity, compassion. When we express compassion for our fellow man we are doing what God sent us here to do, love one another as He loves us. When we are able to extend compassion for another person we are essentially freeing ourselves from the bondages that would otherwise keep us from the greater life God has prepared for us. Compassion is a gift, like forgiveness, that we give to ourselves and to others.

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Life I Know

On her latest CD titled SongVersation, India Arie has a track titled, “Life I Know”.  The first time I listened to the song I felt as if she had written the song for me.  Perhaps she and I are kindred spirits; perhaps not.  Nevertheless, I’ve listened to the song repeatedly and this is what it spoke to my heart.  The song begins . . .

I have kept this secret
From myself for far too long
The truth is, I’m confused
About where I belong
I’m not a mother or a wife
And I’m living such a complicated life
And this is the life I know

I’m confused about a number of things, but one thing most earnestly.  First and foremost, I am confused as to why so many good women seem to be alone—without a mate/spouse.  I am not just speaking selfishly, but also for all of my great single female friends, who can’t seem to get a break, can’t seem to find someone to compliment them, and/or can’t seem to enjoy the desires of their heart.  We mean well.  We are capable of loving and caring for a deservedly willing participant.  And we are sincerely desirous about being a supportive mate.  And this is life we know.  


My life is full
In some of the most important ways
But empty in the core
At the end of everyday
I lock the door, turn out the lights
And I climb in bed
And it’s all alright
Cause this is the life I know

There is truth to India Arie’s words.  My life does have a sense of fullness.  I have a career that I enjoy—most days.  There is a sense of satisfaction and purpose behind what I do and I appreciate having the opportunity to do just that—teach.  I have friends and family, far and near, that provide me with comfort, encouragement and unconditional love.  I busy myself with things I am passionate about: reading, writing, being active, learning, etc.  However, there is a pervasive emptiness that resonates when it comes to the love department.  I’ve spent more of my adult life alone (without a companion)—ruminating, reflecting, and re-emerging from love’s disappointing moments.  All too often I climb in bed alone desirous of the time when I will share the space with someone who wants as much to be there next to me as I do him.   When the opportunity presents itself, I hope I’ll be mature enough to not be bothered by his snoring and drooling and vice versa.  Cause this is the life I know.


I cut the grass
Take out the trash
And fill the gas
In this house
I’m the mom, and the dad
What tomorrow brings
I do not know
Yes, I know it’s unconventional
But, It’s the life I know

I too have been solely responsible for household and vehicle maintenance/upkeep.  While many a woman (myself included) throughout history has proven that she is capable of performing the same tasks as her male counterparts, there are moments in a woman’s life when she isn’t trying to compete with a man, but instead desires to be consoled and comforted by her man—should there be one in her life.  And therein lies many a woman’s dilemma.  Too many of us have found ourselves single after years and years of dating.  Yes, we can buy and maintain our own homes.  Of course we can service our own vehicles.  We can make our own money to take care of ourselves, and children if we have any.  However, just because we are able to do those things doesn’t mean that we don’t want a man in our lives who can and will handle the responsibility of those details.  Yes, women desire to be taken seriously and treated with dignity, but we also want to be catered to and cared for because our hearts are delicate despite the defiant demeanor we extol to the world.  But, it’s the life I know. 

We all have a secret pain
We all have a tender place
We were born to want more
And no I’m not meant to live alone
But this is the life I know

Yes, this is the life I know

Yes, there is a soft spot that I shield (and I’m not the only one is this predicament—I am convinced that men do this too).  My heart is tender from emotional turmoil and disappointments.  Yet I yearn to expose that tender place to a man who is able to accept this perfectly imperfect woman.  And no, I don’t think we were meant to live alone.  I Corinthians 7:2 (Amplified Bible), states, “ . . . let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband”.  If this word is truth, then we are not meant to live alone, we are meant to share a life with another individual.  But the life that I know and have known has been one where I take care of myself.  Yes, this is the life I know. 

All my friends
Are having families of their own
I’m still waiting for
The perfect one to come
Almost four decades in

If I’m blessed, then I’ve got five more to go
And this is the Life I know

I sometimes feel like the last unmarried and childless thirty-seven year old woman.  I have friends and acquaintances from high school who married early and now have grown or near-grown children.  And then there is me—still single twenty years later.  Some of these women are even on their second marriage and I haven’t even had an opportunity to make good on the union once.  I feel like a late bloomer.  Moments like this I begin to feel defective.  I sometimes entertain thoughts that I have a cosmic flaw that has inhibited me from knowing lasting love, marriage, and motherhood.  There have been too many days where I have wondered if the opportunity will ever present itself.  Will I ever get myself together so that a man can appreciate the woman that I am?  While time seemingly hasn’t been on my side—per se—I am hopeful of the prospect of the next five decades if they are granted to me.  And this is the life I know.


Sometime it hurts like hell
But I walk away with a song
And a story to tell
And this is the life I know
Yes, this is the life I know

I know the hurt of many years.  I know how it feels to hope and believe in something and someone, but that something or that someone doesn’t come though for you.  After each tumultuous love experience I have certainly walked away with a story to tell—some funny, some hellaciously funny.  I have also walked away with a renewed sense in the power of love.  Yes, despite the fact that I have been disappointed, I cannot help but want to fall in love again and again.  It matters little that I have experienced many a disappointing love experience for I will forever yearn for an opportunity to open up my heart to another human being.  Yes, this is the life I know. 

And this is the Life I know

The life I know has been one of a constant trek uphill.  The life I know is one where I find myself ever-waiting for my perfectly imperfect mate.  And this is the life I know

(A Final Note–pun intended) The Sound Track of My Life

 This is the first of many pieces in this writing category–The Sound Track of My Life.  I borrowed the idea from a teacher friend (Mari A.—thank you!).  She introduced me to this writing activity as a creative and autobiographic mini-lesson during the TBAWP (Tampa Bay Area Writing Project) Summer Institute.  Though I have yet to share the lesson with my students, I am selfishly enjoying the cathartic power of this writing modality.  The Sound Track of My Life affords me with an opportunity to select a song that has made a deep impression on me and make annotations about the joy, laughter, insight, peace, rejuvenation, solace, etc.  Music is truly a universal language that has the power to move us to higher heights, uplift us in times of trouble and settle us when it’s been one of those days.  I hope that you take a moment to think about songs that have carried you through life.  Perhaps you’ll take a moment and listen to them one more time and revel in their transformative power.