“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34
Forgiveness. It is a word that is easy to say but difficult to do. There are lots of passages in the Bible telling us the consequences if we do not forgive. There are parables in Matthew 18:21-35, so does a warning in Hebrews 12:14-15. But honestly, we Christians, because we are imperfect humans, still have a hard time to forgive. And since we are talking about our mental health, we will discuss those who did wrong to us that cause us emotional distress and depression.
According to Dr Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, a renown psychologist and author of the book Hope and Healing from Emotional Abuse, “It is said that depression is only anger turned inward. Emotionally abused people often given up on emotions, since emotions have proven to be so damaging. They have been beaten down by the emotions of others and struck through the heart by their own emotions in response. No safety, just anger, fear, shame, and guilt. Perhaps, they think, if I punish myself there will be no need to be punished by others. Or, I’m only getting what I really deserve.
It takes a great deal of energy to deal with emotional abuse and stay buoyant. Each emotional assault takes its toll on that store of energy. Some people simply run out of strength to climb the mound of abuse heaped upon them. When that happens, they slip into the pit of depression. Unable to escape from anger, fear, shame, and guilt, they attempt to shut down all of their emotions. With no visible way out, they curl into themselves, isolating themselves from others and imploding their world.”
Shutting down emotions and making our hearts hard as a rock was discussed in the previous topic. There, we break free to that prison and surrender everything to God, even our long-buried emotions. Now, to attain total freedom to depression, one step we have to take is identifying those people who made us think that we are unworthy; and forgive them. God has already forgiven us; now it is the time to do the same, even to those who are undeserving and unrepentant. The process will be hard, I will not lie. But believe me, it is all worth it.
First, we need to recognize our negative emotions. Example: Shame. Next is we identify who did something that made us feel that way. Example: My mom who always fat-shaming me in front of her friends. Or my father who makes me feel that being a girl is a curse because he prefers to have a son instead. Then determine among yourself what reactions you give whenever you face on a similar situation. Example: I make fun of myself about my body shape in front of everyone. It is better to hear it from me than from anyone else. Or I wear baggy clothes to hide my fats and always stay in my room to avoid people whom I think will just laugh about my physique. Or I start to wear clothes that will make me look like a boy. That even in this small gesture, dad will recognize me as his child. Lastly, have the courage to forgive them, to be free from the pains of the past.
I know how hard it is to forgive. When I was in my grade school, I was the nerdy kid. I spend more time reading books than keeping myself neat. My mom always told me that I should fix myself. That I am ugly. And even told her friends about it. The younger me did not understand her. All I know that my mom hated me. And I hated her too. I even wrote a hate poem for her. My self-confidence really plummeted.
Then during my high school years, puberty hit me hard. In a most disgusting way. Pimples all over my face alongside oily skin. I was not an attractive one. My brother even denied knowing me when his friends asked me who I was. He loathed me that even holding my hands made him cringe.
When I graduated and landed a job, I suffered from a hormonal imbalance that slows down my metabolism. I gained a lot of weight. A lot of people fat-shame me. But what hurts me the most was when my sister told me that no clothes would fit me because I am fat.
Forgiveness? That did not cross my mind then. I said I forgave them but I still could not forget. I remembered my sister’s voice whenever I am trying to buy a new set of shirts. My mom’s words ringed in my ears whenever I try to make some friends. I tried to search for my brother’s face in the people I interact with. I always tried to guess if they would cringe whenever I get close to them.
But one day, I told myself that I do not want to be enslaved with those memories anymore. I would not let them take the best in me. So I decided to forgive them. It took a while because the scars were so deep. But I broke free. And I want you to do the same.
Forgiveness is really hard. But remember:
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
Free yourself from the bondage of unforgiving heart. From the pain that always tells you that you can never be happy. Break the chain of thoughts that make you feel depressed. Forgive those people who did wrong to you and forget how those made you feel distressed. I know they might not deserve forgiveness, but YOU do.
Forgive yourself for hurting yourself and thinking that it will calm your inner storm. Forgive yourself for the deep scars you were making as you utter those negative words people are throwing at you. Forgive yourself for swallowing the pills as their words devour your souls. Forgive yourself for being weak and letting the darkness of depression seep you in. Forgive yourself for thinking that death will end your misery.
Forgiving others and yourself will change the direction of your life. Consider this prayer a declaration of your freedom. Mean it with all of your heart.
God, I know You are there. I know You are alive and can hear my prayers. In Jesus’ Name, I release myself from the shackles of my unforgiving heart. I do no longer wish to punish myself with the memories of the past. I grant pardon over those people who did wrong to me. I do not want to be enslaved with my negative emotions towards and from them. Heal me, O God, so that I may move my feet away from this undesirable prison. I do not want to be a prisoner anymore. In Jesus’ Name, make my every step a new beginning of a life full of love and mercy. Make me like You, O Jesus. Who forgives us, sinners, though we are unworthy. Let Your grace fall on me, O God. In Jesus’ Name, I declare freedom from the darkness caused by depression. I will continue to walk with You, O God. Be with me. I know You will always will. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.
If anyone of you is experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts right now, feel free to drop a comment below or send me a private message here. I will be more than happy to lend a hand.