Pastor Norma's Journal of Wisdom

Forgiveness


The value of forgiveness; forgive as we desire forgiveness, ‘tis better to forgive.

Forgiveness is of greater value to yourself than to others. You will be the one who will benefit the most from it. Let me tell you the greatest lesson I learned on forgiveness. This is true, every word of it.

When I was 10 years old my parents separated to get a divorce. My Mother, Letitia Louise Branham Denington, took us from Detroit to Florida where she was from, to be near her mother (Helen Branham). My sister, Kay was 4 and my brother, Paul, was 1.

My mother got a part time job at Sears and the rest of the time she spent in bars and with men. I became the “Mother” of my brother and sister. Sometimes she would come home drunk and bring a man with her and they would get into bed with me (I slept with my mother). This lasted for two years. Because of her lifestyle and actions I was forced into a role that I was not equipped to handle and could not fulfill. I felt overwhelmed. Every morning when I went to school I had to take my brother to the day-care and my sister to her pre-school class. After school I had to pick them up and get them home. Life was really tough for me. Over that two year period I began to hate my mother. She was never “there” for me. It was just us 3 kids— surviving, not living.

One night when the man left, my mother ended up on the floor in a drunken stupor. I tried to get her up and into her night gown and into bed. I couldn’t. She was too heavy.

At that moment all of it was too heavy… the weight of it all totally overwhelmed me and as I knelt beside her, hate, anger, frustration, and bitterness filled my heart against her. I was so full of anger I wanted to kill her. I just wanted to get a knife and stab her to death. Instead I crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep. But from that day on I was detached from her. I despised everything about her. When I was 12 my dad came to Florida to get us and move us back to Michigan. I went on with my life; I grew up, married, and had children.

I love my husband and children with my whole heart. Sometimes, more often than not, some little thing would trigger that anger and hatred and bitterness inside of me and I would become a horrible, screaming mom and wife.

One day when I was sick and tired of my behavior against those I loved so much I went before the Lord and said, “God, what is wrong with me? I don’t want to be or to act this way! What is it?”

He spoke to my heart and said, “Norma, until you forgive your mother you will never be any different. You will never have victory over this.”

I became very angry. I rose up from my knees shaking my fist at God. I screamed at Him… “You’ve got to be kidding! Me forgive her? She needs to ask my forgiveness. She doesn’t deserve my forgiveness!”

He quietly responded with, “And, Norma, neither did you deserve My forgiveness.”

I knew that was true and I began to cry and cry. But I said to Him, “I don’t feel like forgiving her.”

His reply, “Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a choice.”

Did I wrestle with that for awhile! Then I said, “I don’t want to forgive her.” Here I am in my 40’s and haven’t seen her since I was 12, having this war with my family and with God.

He said to me, “Where is your mother?”

I said, “In Florida, I guess. I don’t really know.”

His reply, “You’re not hurting her in all this. You’re hurting those you love the most! And most of all you are hurting yourself.” Truth hit me blindside!

Then the Lord spoke again. “Norma, will you forgive her for Me because I ask you to? Will you obey My word that says to forgive others as I have forgiven you?”

At that moment I bowed my head, heart, and knees before Him and said, “Yes, Lord, I choose now to obey You and I choose to forgive her.”

He said, “Tell her!”

“But I don’t know where she is!” I said.

“Just picture her in front of you and look into her eyes and tell her.”

That was very difficult for me! I struggled for quite awhile but I was finally able to do it. The moment I said to her, “Mother, I forgive you” it felt like a 100-ton weight lifted off of me. I cried and cried and with each tear blessed relief came. I felt the anger, hatred and bitterness against her leave. All resentment against her was gone. I felt clean and whole. When I got up from my knees I was a different person and my family received the reward of my obedience. But I was the greatest recipient! I was free!

Those who forgive most, shall be most forgiven.

— Josiah W. Bailey

With forgiveness the healing begins…

Yes, that was the beginning of the healing. There were times when I would be reminded of her, like on Mother’s Day, or other times when I needed a mother and she was never there. I had to renew my commitment to continually walk in the forgiveness and not allow resentment to rob me of the freedom I now had. The greatest comfort that God gave me and still gives me is in His word. These two scriptures have sustained me over and over through the hard times:

Isaiah 49:15-16 — “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

Psalm 27:10 — “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

The wounds caused by others to our soul are deep and very painful, especially when those wounds are undeserved. And, believe me, there will be many during your lifetime.

Rejection causes the deepest wound.

Please remember that Jesus paid for those wounds to you on the cross, as well as for your own sins.

Isaiah 53:4 — “Surely He has borne our griefs (anxiety, calamity, disease, sickness), and carried our sorrows (anguish or affliction, grief, pain, sorrow).”

He is the only source of true healing for those inward wounds to our soul and spirit. And healing continues through our entire lifetime.

When a deep injury is done to us, we will never recover until we forgive.

— Alan Paton

 

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