It’s been less than a year since this book came out, and I’m shocked at how much Jesus has set me free. My heart breaks for the old me.
At the time, depending on what psychologist you talked to, I was dealing with depression/anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. I had gone through so much trauma and abuse, I couldn’t make it through the day without medication to keep me somewhat stabilized. I was so empty and broken that it took everything I had just to survive.
I was so angry over what was done to me, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get justice. I looked for people to help, yet found no one. I tried everything to get better, to get healed. I couldn’t stand who I was and what had become of my life. I’d deteriorated into a broken mess, partly from what I’d done, and partly from what had been done to me.
Some days suicide seemed like the only way to end the pain I was carrying.
In this chapter, it talks about how I turned back to jiu jitsu in my moment of desperation. It had been the best medication for getting through the day. In my marriage, so much happened to me, and I felt so helpless to make it stop. Nothing I did made the abuse stop, and after divorce, nothing I did could heal me and give me my life back.
On the jiu jitsu mats, I had a way to fight back. People had hurt me before and I hadn’t been able to stop what they did. But on the mats, I wasn’t a victim. It was the only place I didn’t feel like a victim. Once I left the gym, I became the depressed, scared little girl I always was. I isolated to avoid future trauma. I constantly felt like I was in danger.
I hated the people who hurt me. I hated what they’d done.
Now, I can see why they did the things they did. Not that it was right, but I’ve gotten so free from the trauma, and released so much forgiveness, that now I can see how they were victims of a spiritual condition. Hurt people hurt other people. Often people hurt others from their own issues with rejection, shame, and pride.
One of the first things I learned when I started being discipled was how to release forgiveness to people. My spiritual father had sent me Luke 23:34. It was Jesus on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
He told me that forgiveness is a gift from God that we release. There were many times I knew I couldn’t forgive people for what they’d done to me, but I wanted to be free. So I surrendered it to God, and said, “I release the gift of forgiveness in the name and authority of Jesus.”
Releasing forgiveness has been a regular part of my discipleship pathway. Anytime a harsh memory pops up, I say those words and release it to God. There is a teaching in Level 1 Freedom Ministry that deals specifically with unforgiveness. I wrote about it in a post called, “Afraid of Men.” I was so radically set free from that teaching, I felt like a new person after dropping the burden of unforgiveness.
One of my favorite scriptures is in Matthew 18:21-22. It makes me laugh every time.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
I may or may not have had to forgive some people that many times in the last two years. I’ve seen the power of releasing forgiveness to set me free. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but I always remember Matthew 6:14-15.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
I know for sure that I’ve messed up REALLY badly in my life, and unless you’re Jesus, you’ve sinned too. We can’t be forgiven until we release that grudge. No matter how small or how big, I am quick to forgive because I don’t want to carry a burden of unforgiveness, and I want to make sure I’m in right standing with God and He’s removed my transgressions from me as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103)
I’m quick to forgive, and quick to repent.
It’s not always easy to forgive, but I’ve tasted the fruit of living with a forgiving heart. In the chapter, I talk about taking my happy pill. When it was safe to do so, I was able to get off of medication, and am now living in greater joy than I’ve ever experienced, even before abuse. The anger and resentment and bitterness is gone, and if it tries to creep back in, I do the same thing – release forgiveness. I’ve been set free from mental health issues that were born out of the trauma. It has transformed my coparenting relationship with my daughter’s father.
God hasn’t changed my custody situation, but He changed me and it has made all the difference.