Just about 24 hours ago there was a twitter chat regarding a piece written by CandiceBenbow titled 4:43. It was written in response to themes in Jay-Z’s newest album. Her piece can be found here. I finally catch a twitter chat as it’s happening and I’m excited cuz I read this piece and it had me in my real deal emotions.
This was the tweet that got my twitter fingers jittery:
I was all too familiar with the subject matter and I had some stuff I wanted to put out into cyberspace. Which sparked this tweet:
You can click here to see where I proceeded to add a very shortened version of my own experience with “church hurt”. The Amens from sista twitter let me know I was onto something. My goal wasn’t to talk about how hurt I was, but to explain how forgiveness became the focal point of a situation that should have been REPENTANCE.
After the chat was over I knew I had to write a post about it. I decided that in my regular ratchademic fashion, that I should be real and candid about the hurtful experience I only brushed over in the chat to make a point. This is about me. My healing. And my desire to be candid and open. I have an obligation to my sisters to be so. So here goes:
The Black church/Black community, whatever, has got to stop perverting forgiveness to protect men of position and status.
When I was 16, I dated a young minister at my church. I went away to college a few months after. A few weeks later he presents me a twisted version of some indiscretions of his that transpired while I was away. I was only hearing about this because the situation spread through pretty much the entire church. Interventions were had with him, the other person involved, and their guardians. (All things I found out after the fact). This was 6 years ago. To this day, I was never included in any conversation. The only apology I ever got was from the guardian of the other person involved. But her being an adult, I found value in the humility.
His actions could have landed him in serious trouble. But no disciplinary action was taken against him. Not even within the church. He was on his post, playing the organ, and was preaching in the pulpit immediately after as normal. By the time I found out what REALLY transpired, I was left broken and in shambles to pick up the pieces on my own. At the end of the very first semester, I finished strong with a 1.68 GPA
Now I was left to fathom forgiveness. Of course, I had to remember, “the devil don’t want you to forgive”, so whatever I was going to do, I had to do it fast. Maybe only two people in that church ever asked me if I was okay. But I knew everybody expected me to. Months later I return from school, having recently learned the reality that they apparently been knew. He had long since moved on and I was faced with seeing him every Sunday in the pulpit, new girl in tow. I can’t tell you how many times I sat up in the Lord’s house contemplating real murder. I wanted to heal. I wanted to move on. But my obligation to the church building impeded that process.
At 17 years of age, I went an entire week without eating food because I was so sick to my stomach at the reality of my situation. At 17 years of age, I approached him, a couple years my elder, after weeks of crying out to God and trying to take control of my life, to let him know that I forgave him. At the time, I couldn’t figure out how to heal without getting past him first. And because I was embedded in bi-weekly doses of black theology, I had to rush the process because God forbid I died tomorrow without having forgiven him yet. I would have just purchased a one-way ticket to hell.
Unfortunately, the linear progression of healing never became my reality. In another hurdle, I had to contemplate how all these adults in the church completely ignored me and my subsequent suffering. They saw me in that prayer line, week after week, begging God to take this pain away. And perhaps, I still haven’t forgiven them for that.
Today, that 4:43 is married and has since been promoted in the church world and I can barely set foot in that building. Granted this has not been without more scandal on his behalf. But what does a black man in scandal mean to the black church? Forgive him. Move on.
I learned an early lesson from forgiveness indoctrination. Some marveled at how well I “got over it”, but never did anyone really expect him to be publicly sorry. That was private. “Between him and God”
Let me tell you something sis. Anybody who hurts you disqualifies themselves from the ministry of “you need to let it go”. That is abuse, and I’m not willing to debate that. Forgiveness is about you. When someone tells you “it’s no big deal”, it is for the sole purpose of THEM being able to sleep at night. My choice to forgive needs to either contribute to or be the culmination of a healing process for myself. Your life cannot revolve around someone else’s feelings. And I rebuke the doctrine that makes a woman feel as if her lot in life is to constantly forgive and that’s as good as she gets. Sis, don’t let nobody hi-jack your healing.