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Apr 182013

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home in which “forgiveness” in order to be “real” had to contain a restoration of trust, even if you knew in your heart that the person who had wounded you (or someone else) would do it again, that they had no remorse in their heart.

Of course, the same person who demanded this kind of “forgiveness” on my part, was great at holding on to grudges herself, and she would never forget something you had done “bad” even a decade before and had not done since, and even though you had profusely and sincerely apologized for it.

This never made any sense to me, and I fought against this concept and definition of “forgiveness” much of the time.

During the summer I spent in hiding from the ex-convict my son Patrick sent to kill me, I lived in a large RV parked at a lake on a friend’s retirement property and I had little to do, and spent quite a bit of time reading the Bible, trying to look at it without the prejudices in which I had been taught.

One of my favourite stories was the story of “Joseph of the coat of many colors” which is found in the book of Genesis, chapter 37:1 to chapter 50:26. Basically, at age 17, Joseph who was of his father Jacob’s two favorite sons out of 12 sons, was given a “coat of many colors.” Joseph was pretty much an arrogant obnoxious teenager and because his 10 older brothers knew their father loved him and the youngest boy, Benjamin, best, they hated Joseph.

One day Jacob sent his son Joseph out to check on his brothers who were watching the sheep distant from the family camp. Joseph had his “special”coat and had also had dreams in which his brothers’ sheaves of wheat had bowed down to him as well as the sun, moon and 11 stars had also bowed down to him. Of course he had told his brothers these dreams. This arrogance made his brothers hate him. They determined to kill him when they saw him approaching their camp in the desert, and soak his coat in blood and tell their father they found it that way. Instead of killing him though, they ended up selling him to a passing caravan for a slave and Joseph wound up in Egypt.

Though things had taken a decided turn for the worst, Joseph quickly showed his master he was trustworthy and became valuable to his master. Then disaster struck again, and his master’s wife, failing to seduce him, cried “rape” and he was tossed into prison, where he again, being a trustworthy prisoner soon rose to a position as a “trustee” in the prison, helping out the jailor. During the time there he made friends with two other prisoners of the king’s. One the king’s baker, the other the king’s cup bearer. Each of these two men had dreams, and Joseph interpreted the two dreams with God’s help, and told the baker he would die, and told the cup bearer that he would be restored to his place. Joseph asked the cup bearer to “remember” him when he was restored, but of course it was years before he did, and that was on the occasion that the king had a dream that no one could interpret. So Joseph was called to interpret the dream and did so, telling the king there would be seven years of plenty and seven of famine. He suggested that the king find someone to store up the excess grain during the years of plenty to save for the years of famine. The king appointed Joseph second in command to the entire kingdom.

By this time, Joseph had figured out that God had sent him to Egypt for this purpose and he forgave his brothers. But only about 9 years later do we see that even though Joseph was no longer bitter at his brothers, he didn’t trust them.

A couple of years into the famine, Jacob sent his 10 oldest sons, retaining the youngest, Benjamin, at home, to Egypt to get grain so the family would not starve. When the brothers came before Joseph, Joseph recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him, because he spoke to them through an interpreter and he spoke harshly to them, and made them tell him about his father and their family, including mentioning Benjamin. Joseph had their donkeys laden with grain, and even had their money sacks returned to their bags of grain, kept one of the brothers in prison as security and told them they must return with the younger brother to prove they weren’t spies or don’t come back.

When I had read this story as a child and even as an adult. I thought,” Why is he doing this? That’s pretty mean.”

Only after the grain ran out did the 9 older brothers convince Jacob that in order for the entire family not to starve they must go back and get more grain and if they didn’t take Benjamin that the man would not see them. So giving themselves as security for Benjamin, the brothers all went back.

When they met Joseph, he had to turn away so they would not see him cry. Then he ordered a meal at his house prepared for the brothers and had them seated by order of birth, and he sent them food from his table (he had to eat separately) and gave Benjamin bigger portions. Then he ordered their sacks filled and them to leave the next morning, but he also ordered his steward to put their money back into their sacks and to put his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Of course before they got out of town, he sent soldiers to search them and tell them that whoever “stole” his cup would have to be his slave. The brothers all denied stealing, of course they hadn’t stolen, but the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

The brothers all went back to plead with Joseph that the loss of Benjamin would send their father to his grave in sorrow and grief and begged them to take one of them instead. By this time, Joseph was unable to contain his tears and sent out the Egyptian staff as he introduced himself to his brothers.

Again, I asked myself why on earth did Joseph treat them so horribly? Then it finally dawned on me. He was testing them to see what kind of men they had become in the nearly two decades since he was 17 and the present. Were they still the hateful jealous men that had plotted his murder, that had convinced their grieving father that he was torn to pieces by some wild beast?

Joseph had long ago gotten the bitterness out of his heart (forgiveness) toward his brothers but he didn’t trust them until he had tested them. Until he had seen them demonstrate what kind of men they were now. He saw that they would sacrifice themselves to prevent their father from suffering more grief in his old age.

I finally came to the conclusion, using the story of Joseph as an example, that “forgiveness” doesn’t mean that we must instantly restore trust to someone even if they issue us what seems like a sincere apology until we see from their behaviour that they are trustworthy, that they have changed. Forgiveness to me means to get the bitterness out of my own heart, not for the other person, but for myself. Restoring trust to that individual may or may not ever happen and depends on if that person repents and proves to me that they are trustworthy, but just like Joseph’s brothers, it isn’t going to be easy to restore broken trust with me. Not that I’m holding a grudge, just that I don’t intend to be re-injured if I don’t have to be.

Being raised in an environment were I was required to “forgive/restore trust” no matter what someone did to me (repeatedly), and told I would be condemned to everlasting burning hell if I didn’t, had me terrified of God by the time I was in second grade. Then as a young adult when this concept didn’t “sit right” with me, but I couldn’t quite understand why, it kept me from complete belief in a god who would require such a thing. Once I started to read the Bible with less prejudiced eyes, to read it for myself and to realize that when people proved untrustworthy I could distance myself from them and still forgive them without having to trust them, my views of the forgiveness God gives us are for our benefit, and it  is for our benefit to not have that bitterness inside us.

Jesus, in Matthew 18:15:-17, instructs us how to deal with those who abuse us without remorse.

“If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother, but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” KJV


Joyce Alexander, RNP retired

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  19 Responses to “A Biblical view of forgiveness versus restoration of trust Joseph and the coat of many colors

  1. Joyce, Jesus tells us to forgive but not to forget. He also warned us to test the fruit. These fruits are bad figs and to stay away from them. Jesus will deal with them when the time is right. Jesus is longsuffering wishing that no one should perish. He gives everyone enough time to humble themselves and focus on His truth. It’s that HUMBLE aspect that is the culprit as narcissism is cherished (built up by the medium) and allowed to run rampant in society today.

  2. Joyce, “forgiveness” is a concept that EVERYONE who has been victimized struggles with. There’s no easy approach or answer for victims. Some are able to accomplish this endeavor, and others (like me) find it incongruous with common sense.

    I was raised with a system of religious doctrines that held that ALL people were deserving of a second chance, and ALL people are deserving of forgiveness. My personal belief has been altered to acknowledge “forgiveness” as a concept and determine whether I have the ability to get to that goal, or not. For me, personally, anyone who does something terrible to another human being, their property, other living things, or against humanity, in general, MUST present themselves with a desire to acknowledge their behaviors as being “wrong,” take responsibility for THEIR actions, make sincere amends to the victims/survivors FOR their choice of actions, and pay retribution to the victims/survivors as a direct demonstration of their sincerity.

    “I’m sorry that happened,” is NOT meeting any of the above criteria. “…that happened…” does not convey one shred of accountability, responsibility, or sincerity. “When I stole your money without your permission, I was committing a crime and I am going to work to pay you back until you have been restored,” DOES meet my personal criteria.

    For me, forgiving myself for my vulnerabilities and core-issues is far more important that granting it to someone who will never acknowledge that they gutted me and left me for dead, and will never make any apology for having done so.

  3. Truthy, the BITTERNESS in my own heart against anyone, even Hitler, is like a cancer, and I must get it out, get rid of it, but I do NOT condone what they have done, and they MUST suffer the CONSEQUENCES of their act, even if they DO repent sincerely, but that does NOT MEAN that I will EVER TRUST them.

    I believe Joseph had gotten the bitterness out of his heart toward his brothers before they arrived in Egypt (and that is what I define as “forgiveness”) SEVERELY TESTED them to see what kind of men they had become in those decades since he had last seen them and he saw that they would now literally sacrifice themselves to save their father grief, ONLY then did he reveal himself to them.

    We each have to determine our own definition of what forgiveness is. Like you, I realized my early teaching that “forgiveness” was pretending that something never happened was not right for me. But I also realized that holding on to that bitterness was not right for me either. That bitterness ate at me like a cancer inside. Then when I read the story of Joseph it spoke to me like it had never done before and I saw that Joseph had gotten the bitterness out of his heart toward his brothers, but I realized why he had been so “mean” to his brothers, he was TESTING them to see what they had become before he trusted them again. WOW! WHAT A CONCEPT! I began then to Bible with NEW EYES! I read other stories, like about King David and got new insights I had never seen before. It was a wonder to me. It increased my faith and my strength.

  4. People ask me why I’m not more angry with the spaths in my life. It’s not because I forgive them. For me forgiveness requires repentance from the offender. The reason I’m not angry with the spaths is because that is what they want and I refuse to give it to them. They hurt us because they want to slime us with their anger and turn us into them. I refuse to become them.

    For me, the answer is to recognize their dysfunction and simply refuse to play their game. That’s not forgiveness, it’s walking away from the sandbox.

    • Skylar, these folks use everyone. That’s their sinful nature. That’s what they do. I’ve encountered several more after my first 2 encounters. The world is full of them. We just need to use our God given wisdom to discern the next ones that come in our path. We wished they glowed, but, unfortunately they blend in with the “normal, God loving” people of the world. They act super sweet to you because they are setting you up for what they want to use you for. My ex-spath used to say to me, “you get more bees with honey, than vinegar”. Anyway, we forgive to heal. That’s what Jesus wants from us see Matthew 6:9-15. I’m a Christian knowing that these spaths in my life was a wake up call for me to get closer to Jesus.

  5. Sky, I think you letting go of the anger is the same as my “getting the bitterness out of my heart which I call “forgiveness” because when I let go of the bitterness the anger goes with it. It may be that our views are the same we are just using different words to describe it. The written language is like that.

    They do want us to be upset/angry by how they treat us. If we don’t “notice” them they have not gotten the result they want. To be unnoticed to them is to not exist. Patrick wants an AUDIENCE for every crime he has committed. If he had not BRAGGED about every crime he did he would have gotten away with them all. LOL But he wants someone to ADMIRE how smart he is with these crimes, and he never got it that these low life dumb criminals he ran around with would not give up their own grandmother for a deal with the DA. Like there is “honor among criminals?” LOL Patrick ran with these low lifes because it made him feel “superior” because he was so smart by comparison.

  6. I to believe Joyce is right I know my heart was way less burdened when I started asking God to bless my offenders. every day my heart did get full of forgiveness but Trust if ever will be tested to the limit before I will trust.In some ways it is sad that the innocence in life is gone when you felt that there is good and bad in everyone no one is perfect therefore trusting and forgiving was a easy natural thing.It is unfortunate that we all have had to come to the point in our lives that we totally lose that faith and that way of thinking.I remember when I first started talking to you people a few years back I still had that faith and could not understand how hard you all we on yourselves and your loved ones. Well I understand now because I learned to realize that in some people there is no good. A person that I believed in and was able to trust even put her down a a care giver for my granddaughter we raised if anything happened to use.. I believed with all my heart that She would be good to her. I did not see in her what you saw in your children growing up. May be being a girl I was blinded to it. She was a busy infant but a good teenager so I thought.She made mistakes as I did at that age but nothing that was not forgivable.Although in my lifetime I had a few Church experiences That lead me to stay away from them but I always kept my faith in God. I believe God has carried me over mountains and like many of you my life as not been a easy ride since the day I was born.I remember my dad at a very early age.saying “You have a heart of a boiled turnip” Which I did and always carried the world on my shoulders. I put faith and trust just like my grandchildren that I never should have even then.On the other hand I can also relate to Skyler because I to have a pedophile in my life that I will never forgive I have dealt with it and do not let it eat me up.I did have to learn to forgive myself although it was not my fault.I will never to my dieing breath ever forgive him or any other Pedifile. I did put it in Gods hands to be there Judge.

  7. Well, to me “forgiveness” is NOT pretending it never happened, or restoring trust to someone who has no remorse for what they did. The story of Joseph in the Bible tells us that he forgave his brothers….got the bitterness in his heart out….years before he saw them again, but he did NOT trust them until he had TESTED them to see what kind of men they had become before he revealed himself to them.

    In reading and rereading that story since I was a child, I always wondered why he was so “mean” to his brothers, was he getting revenge? But it finally dawned on me that he was TESTING them and he saw that they had repented of what they had done to him, and the pain of his “death” that it inflicted on his father and that they would protect Benjamin at even the loss of their own freedom or lives so that their elderly father would not be grief stricken again. ONLY then did he reveal himself to them.

    So I quit trying to “forgive” (getting the bitterness out of my hears) but pretending it never happened was not the answer, and I was NOT obligated to TRUST that person ever again or to have a relationship with them, no matter how much DNA we shared.

    After my mother was betrayed by the people who took her money and she thought would do her bidding, after she devalued me and discarded me, called me a liar, etc. when their betrayal came to light and I told her we need to talk, her response was “well, let’s just pretend none of this happened and start over” and that was NOT acceptable to me. I wanted her to acknowledge that she had accused me unjustly, to admit that she had hurt me, and to SHOW she was truly sorry. But she refused to talk about it. So I walked out of her house and have not been back. That was not what she expected and I actually think she thinks that if enough time passes I will “forget” but she does not understand that TIME ALONE does not restore trust.

    I don’t dwell on what she did to me, and I can look back at more or less like a movie I saw once, but the emotions and pain are not there any more, if that makes sense.

  8. On the thread about the e mail sent asking about Patrick we had kind of started discussing bitterness, trust, forgiveness etc. and I thought I’d bring this thread back up.

    Getting rid of the bitterness in my heart against those who have abused me, my trust and my caring has been a difficult task for me, and one that I have to keep a “lid on” if I get to thinking about them or what they have done, but as I progress in my attempts to get and keep that bitterness out of my heart, I also realize that I can NOT trust any of these people who have SHOWN me that they have no remorse for what they have done and I know that they would hurt me again if I allowed them the chance.

    Though I firmly believe that Patrick sent Hamilton to kill me, and that Hamilton is very capable of murder, as he demonstrated when he and my ex daughter in law tried to kill my son Andrew, but I’m no longer afraid of Hamilton, he’s back in Texas and he has no motive to kill me now, but I can’t say as much for the NEXT friend of Patrick’s that might come looking for me. It behooves me to remain vigilant and cautious of anyone that has had or has any relationship to Patrick.

  9. Y’know, Joyce, I believe that the first individual deserving of total “forgiveness” is myself – coming to terms with that has been a sort of stumbling block for a while. And, “well-meaning” people didn’t help in that respect, either, with, “Well, WHY didn’t you KNOW what he was doing?” or, “How could you NOT know?” or, even still, “Well, you chose him………”

    Then, the same well-meaning people insist that I have to “love” myself. Well, there is NO WAY that I can forgive myself without loving myself, and vice versa. So, on a very basic level, “forgiveness” in my most humble opinion is acknowledging human frailties and so forth. And, that it’s OKAY to BE human and make mistakes, errors in judgement, and plain stupid choices.

    For me, I’ve come to that point where I am worthy and deserving of forgiveness, as well as “love.” It has taken me a long, long while to get to this point, but I’m okay with BEING okay. And, forgiving others for their errors is in a different category, for me. It’s also recognizing that they are “allowed” to be whatever they are, but having accepted whatever it is that they are at their very cores does not – NOT – mandate me to continue tolerating whatever it is that they choose to do, and pretend that they aren’t doing it.

    Forgiveness is, indeed, the purging of the bitterness and my personal experience was to express my sadness, anger, hurt, and grief over the loss of the illusions, and put it all to rest. Sure, there are moments when I wish that the exspath would pay for his actions, but I quickly calm myself via various techniques and remember that the Universe requires a balance, in all things. Whatever happens is going to happen according to whatever forces are at work, and I don’t need to know about it, nor do I need to have “a hand” in however Karma (or, Universal balance) is achieved.

    My task, now, is to continue this journey of recovery, healing, and support for those in recovery, themselves.

    And, I have to agree with you, Joyce, that it is very important for you to remain vigilant and cautious with regards to ANYONE who was, is, or will be associated with Patrick. Absolutely. But, vigilance is not the same thing as paranoid, which is where I’ve spent the past 3 years. LOL!!! Vigilance simply means checking our sixes………that’s all. 😀

  10. Truthy, I think you mentioned above the MOST IMPORTANT part of learning about “forgiveness” and DEFINING “forgiveness” for ourselves is learning how to forgive OURSELVES and stop “blaming” ourselves for everything in the world.

    True, many of my own CHOICES and DECISIONS led to a great deal of my traumas in life, but ACKNOWLEDGING those bad choices and decisions for what they are, and then FORGIVING myself for making them, issuing myself a COMPLETE and SINCERE APOLOGY, Accepting that I did these things (either knowingly or unknowingly) and then making myself the same kind of promise that I would make you if I had hurt you and was apologizing, I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.

    Of course there is no way we will be PERFECT after that, we WILL make some bad choices and some bad mistakes, some bad decisions, BUT we can and should realize that we do NOT have to be “perfect” to be OK…to be MORE THAN OK in fact.

    I realized eons ago that I allowed others to be FLAWED but I expected myself to be PERFECT and if I was not perfect, I was not okay. In other words I could allow repeated acts of insult from others and “forgive” them, but if I failed in anything, or was not 100% “right” them I was NOT OKAY at all.

    There was a book published decades ago called “I’m OK, you’re OK” about how we do or don’t accept ourselves as OK. I think the book nailed it…but, having read it, having seen the truth in the concept, I didn’t PRACTICE it until more recently.

    Yes, Truthy, in my opinion, forgiving ourselves is the most important part of learning about forgiveness. And, I think the HARDEST!!!

    • Joyce, the way that I was raised in the dysfunction within my family dynamics was that everyone ELSE was “worthy” and “deserving” of “forgiveness,” EXCEPT me. I was SO lost, SO broken, SO unworthy, SO fat, SO stupid, and, so, so, so, so (ad nauseum) that I did not DESERVE to be human. I was EXPECTED to “fix” everything that was wrong with me (at 5-6 years of age), AND everything that was wrong with everyone else! LMAO!!!!!!!!!

      Additionally, in most sects of the religion that I was raised within, the LEADERS of these institutions insisted that each and every human being had been “born a sinner.” Well, if I had been BORN that way, and everything that I did (good, bad, benign) was being viewed as a mortal mistake, error, and “sin,” then where was the reprieve? HOW was I going to be absolved of all of this sin? EVEN when I took the specific steps to achieve this absolution, I was STILL “bad.”

      So, for my purposes, the word, “forgiveness,” doesn’t apply. “Acceptance” is the term that I can better live with and understand. Acceptance of my own mortal and human foibles and humanity is easier for me to understand than “forgiveness.”

      A true example of what I was taught to be “forgiveness:”
      * When I told my father and mother that I had been frightened, cold, and hungry when my mother locked me out of our home in a drunken stupor, I was expected to OVERLOOK my mother’s alcoholism and that everything was FINE.
      * When I was caught smoking at school, the exact words from my mother’s mouth were, “You owe us an apology for the trouble you’ve caused us.”

      The above example was not something that my parents deliberately contemplated – they didn’t wake up and think to themselves what would cause the MOST damage to my self-worth and self-esteem, but it was most certainly THEIR actions (and, the actions of others) that created a deep and crippling shame-core for their child. I understood, by word and action, that I was “not good enough,” nor would I EVER be “good enough.”

      Today, I am “good enough” to be worthy and deserving of forgiveness, on every level. For deliberate mistakes in judgement, to things over which I had no control……….I can forgive myself. And, it took a lot of hard, hard work to get to that point. 😉

  11. I think your “religious” precepts and mine early in our lives must be quite similar….I NO LONGER accept those “precepts” as valid, however, because, after reading the Bible for myself I realize that those precepts are WRONG and I will not allow them to make me feel unclean, inferior, etc. and I no longer feel that “forgiveness” means PRETENDING IT NEVER HAPPENED, and I no longer feel that I am compelled to allow others to walk all over me and be passive about it.

    I retain my belief in “God the loving father” but not THEIR views of someone who is “out to get’ya”

    Like you, my journey has taken a looooooong time, and looking back on the “history” of my life, I can see that I bought into a lot of the dysfunction for a long time. I was uncomfortable with it but I accepted it, and allowed others to have chance after chance when they would deliberately hurt me or others. I no longer feel that obligation.

    Having said all that, it doesn’t mean that I won’t fall for a con again, or that I will be perfect, because i am FAR from perfect. And I “know” more things than I “practice” but Ii am learning to PRACTICE more of the things I now know. It is this continual awareness of my feelings, and NOT IGNORING my feelings. My feelings are important now. Also I listen to my INSTINCTS now.

    Fortunately, after weeding out the dysfunctional and toxic people from my everyday life, I am pretty well free of the drama and trauma that they would inflict if they were in my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have some anxiety about Patrick getting out or sending another assassin to get me, but I do my best to keep the anxiety in check and not let it over come me. I must take responsibility for my own health and welfare. But not the responsibility for everyone else’s happiness.

    The old joke about “not my monkey, not my circus” is my new mantra.

  12. Truthy, I got to thinking about the forgiveness of ourselves last night, and I thought about the book by Dr. Eric Berne, “Games People Play” and how Transactional Analysis views us beating ourselves over the head for our “faults” ad nauseum. In terms of TA which supposes there is a “parental tape” in our heads (sort of like a conscience) and the “Parent” has two sides, a loving parent and a “witch” parent which is critical…he supposes that this “parent duo” is formed when we are small by the edicts of our real parents. Whether we get more of the “Witch parent” or the “loving parent” depends on how our real parents gave us either loving or criticism/blame. Of course every good parent corrects a child’s behaviors, but that can be done without crushing the child’s ego entirely.

    Because you and I (and millions of other children) internalized the critical parent, giving us the thinking that we are BIG TIME flawed and that like “Alice in Wonderland” we must run all out to remain even in place.

    Forgiving ourselves for not being “perfect” (and therefore not worthy of forgiveness) I think has been a big step for both of us. I know for me it was much MUCH harder than forgiving others. If you haven’t read “Games People Play” I think you might get some insight from it. It isn’t all that popular now but I think it should be a must read for everyone who has lived in dysfunctional situations.

  13. Truthy, there are “degrees” of dysfunction in every family, but some are worse, far worse, than others. Even in families that truly love their children (I don’t think yours was one of those) there are ideas implanted in the heads of the kids that “scar” them in some way.

    In my family girls were not as important to the family as boys were…and whatever a boy/man did was destined to be “forgiven” (pretend it didn’t happen) I can remember hearing that the Uncle Monster had “preserved the family name” when he had a son. It was as much a cultural thing as anything. Still was dysfunctional though. I was the only grandchild for the first ten years of my life, but I was also the “bell sheep” as far as my grandparents were concerned and I was “forgiven” for being a girl until I was starting to get Size Ds…then I had to toe the “female” line. LOL

    As far as my mother was concerned, since she didn’t have any male children, the “took over” mine and multiple times she would do things I had asked her not to do. when I was weaning my oldest from the bottle, I caught her one night we were visiting, sneaking into the bedroom where we slept with a bottle in her hand. When he was 15 and starting his career as a law breaker, she took Patrick in against my will. And so on…this is a MULTIPLE GENERATIONAL pattern of dysfunction in the family. though my grandfather quit drinking when my mother was an infant, it was sort of an “alcoholic” family dynamic.

    My mother’s brother, Uncle Monster, took on the role of the family bad boy…then Patrick took on that role in my family and my mother became the defender of the male line…at least where Patrick is concerned. she has nothing but contempt for my adopted son as “he is not blood” but she doesn’t have much except contempt for my oldest biological son either. Just Patrick–the “successful” one (in HIS opinion at least!) LOL

    I broke the chain eventually, and quit being an enabler (for the most part) I do find myself from time to time having that “knee jerk” response, but I usually quickly rein myself in and back out. LOL After a life time of dysfunction I still have difficulty at times breaking the pattern and STAYING more functional. Of course getting most of the dysfunctional folks out of my circle of intimacy, it helps me to have less “drama” to contend with.

    The religious body I grew up in thinks that THEY and ONLY THEY are the only ones even remotely maybe going to heaven…It is an exclusive view. Which now, makes me want to laugh. Heck even the ISIS thinks they are the only ones who will get into Muslim heaven and everyone else in the world will burn in hell. LOL

    • Joyce, I think what I’ve learned from all of my experiences is that the wolves in sheep’s clothing are everywhere, even (and, especially) in religious organizations. And, there are also some very, very good people, as well. It’s a matter of sifting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Many can call up a chapter and verse that will support ANY discussion or demand that is being made – literally. But, it takes a calm, centered, and balanced individual to walk the walk – to work at being calm and loving and non-judgmental.

      By “non-judgmental,” I mean developing a perception of people because of color, hair styles, etc……LOL!!! Indeed, true and objective judgment is necessary to keep ourselves and our friends/neighbors/families SAFE from human predators and “evil-doers.”

      Any form of zealotry frightens me because it takes away any follower’s ability to question outrageous teachings or assertions, and think for themselves. There is a very dark joke about a suicide bomber that is told that he will receive 40 virgins as his eternal reward for being a martyr. Well, he detonates and is suddenly surrounded by 40 female goats. His deity appears and he cries out, “But, I was promised 40 VIRGINS!!!” The deity answers, “Yeah, but nobody specified what species, right?”

      And, this begs another question about the eternal “reward” for this particular arm of zealots……….um………. do the 40 virgins REMAIN virgins after the deceased has his way with them? I mean…….seriously, do they remain perpetual virgins? DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE?!?! LMAO!!!!!!!! And, what do the FEMALE martyrs get as their eternal reward? A bikini? Hair bobs that glitter in their hair for all to see? Bracelets that everyone can see? A voice? Some control? Some power?

      Okay……………rant over.

  14. That’s funny! 40 goats!!! My opinion is that ANY “religious” group, or political group, that espouses VIOLENCE against those not in the group is wrong. Sure, there are justifiable reasons to fight against a corrupt government’s ACTIONS but killing people because they don’t agree with your “religion” is just IMHO wrong.

    When I was about 12 I was visiting in the home of my paternal grandparents and I looked through their cabinets and found the book “Animal Farm” and I read it, first thinking it was a children’s book, but bored and wanted something to read to pass a rainy afternoon, but then as I got more and more into the book realizing it was not about ANIMALS but about politics and corruption.

    Politics or any other control position is a perfect place for psychopaths to exercise their control by using the “holy book” (whatever version is their choice) as the moral factor in legitimizing their point of view.

    I’ve seen scripture TWISTED by taking verses out of context, or twisting the “definition” of words within those verses. I’ve had it used against me my entire life, but I no longer allow that. Whether there is a God or not, my belief that there is is comforting to me, and my perception of a LOVING father deity also comforts me, if I wake up after I die and there’s no survival of the soul, so what? It hasn’t hurt me to believe but if I wake up and there is a God, well, then I can look Him in the eye.

    • Joyce, wow…………reading “Animal Farm” at 12? WHAT AN IMPACT that must have had on you!

      I’m just fine with anyone’s beliefs as long as they don’t harm others. My beliefs are a comfort to me because, quite frankly, even in the seeming chaos of this Universe, there is order and renewal – a “perfect” cycle to all things from galaxies to one-celled organisms. I only have to view photos from the Hubble Telescope to inspire awe and a true sense of humility – and, that would be “humility,” not “humiliation!” LMAO!

      Whatever gives any individual hope, sustenance, comfort, and peace is what they need.

      And, renewing trust via forgiveness, as this article discusses, has given me tremendous pause for thought. Without forgiving myself for my own mistakes and humanity, I would never be able to develop true and honest “trust” if it didn’t begin with me, first.

      As a child, I was taught to NEVER “trust” my own intuition or irrefutable observations. “Mom’s drunk and passed out,” was an absolute fact. But, when a child is told, “Mom’s ‘sick’ and sleeping,” when the facts are completely different……..well……..we’re supposed to RELY upon our parents to tell us the truth and teach us. I was “taught,” alright – I was taught that my observations were WRONG and that I was WRONG and that there was something WRONG with me, on every level.

      For me, personally (and, I mean that this applies only to me), I had to delve into those false and flawed perceptions and the origins OF them in order to set them to rights. Rewiring my thinking and perceptions has come, very slowly, and will continue for the rest of my life. And, I’m absolutely okay with that.

      Now, I am learning what true “trust” really is, and where it comes from. It cannot (again, for me, personally) come blindly, but ONLY by learning to trust my own judgment and instincts, FIRST.

      Crazy, huh? How such seemingly minor events and words can build an entirely erroneous set of beliefs? But, nothing is permanent, and even beliefs can be altered and changed for a better good, even if the facts are not as pleasant as I would like. 😉

  15. No, Truthy, I don’t think it is crazy or strange. If we cannot TRUST OURSELVES to keep ourselves safe, then who in the world can we trust? If we have repeatedly allowed others to abuse us or have proven our judgment is poor, then we are always going to be afraid and anxious.

    I think forgiving myself for my repeatedly allowing others to harm me was the hardest part of it all. I was taught that in order to be acceptable, I had to be perfect, to be smarter than others, to be braver than others, to not make any kind of mistakes, and if I did make a mistake that proved I wasn’t perfect (therefore not worthy) and though outwardly I did my best to “be perfect” I was never able to accomplish that. My need to please others was higher than my on survival instinct.

    I look back those feelings and thoughts and I actually see that “previous” Joyce differently than I do my “now” Joyce. I feel compassion for her, I have forgiven her, and that allows me to TRUST my “now” Joyce to keep me safe. To only allow other people to earn my trust, not give it away willy nilly. I trust myself now to recognize red flags of malice and to steer clear of those people.

    I know I will continue to make mistakes in judgment from time to time in the future, but I also know, when I do, I will accept that I made a mistake and move on from it. I will not allow my humanity to be destroyed by those mistakes. The good people in my life, those that love me, they are precious, but for those that only want to use me or cause drama in my life…I don’t need them. Once someone has shown that they are a liar or are untrustworthy, then it is difficult to regain my trust.

    Trusting ourselves and those who are in our “circle of intimacy” is important. Humans are “herd” animals just like cattle and horses, or “pack” animals like dogs and wolves. We need to be with our own kind in order to be emotionally healthy, and trusting those in our “pack” is important. But before we can safely trust others, we must be able to trust ourselves to have good judgment.

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