Brace yourself! This is about to get nasty! I am about to share with you my ugly side.
Let me fill you in. For a very long time, I held a grudge against someone. You heard me! I simply could not forgive this woman. See, she had hurt me a lot and on countless occasions, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I couldn’t forgive her for it. She was someone I trusted, someone I always thought would want the best for me, but she let me down. And, I could not get past the hurtful things she had done to me. I held her responsible for the damage she had caused in my life, and in my mind, there had to be some consequence for it. I just couldn’t overlook what had happened. Forgiving her would be letting her off the hook too easily. And so, I fed and fuelled feelings of resentment towards this woman, and I made sure, on every occasion I got, she knew exactly how I felt.
However, one unforgettable evening, it all changed. In a prayer meeting, we were called to forgive those against whom we held grudges. My feelings of resentment against her were rooted so deeply that she didn’t immediately come to mind. After a long inner search, just when I was ready to forgo this prayer, thinking that it wasn’t for me, reality finally hit me like a ton of bricks. Thus, an internal duel began! God said, ‘Say her name out loud and forgive her!’ I said, ‘No way, not yet. She still has some paying to do!’ And so, this tug of war continued until at last, reluctantly so, I yielded and began to slowly, repeatedly say it out loud. ‘I forgive you. I forgive you.’ With each confession of forgiveness, the burden of my grudge lessened, until I could finally complete the sentence. I forgive you, Motlatsi Bernardino. That’s right! That night I finally forgave myself for all my imperfections.
Experience has led me to believe that we women deal harshly with members of our own gender. For instance, if a man has an affair with a woman, even though we might not approve of it, we brush it off as the norm, as something that most men tend to do. But, if the tables are turned, and it is the woman who has the affair, we look down upon her, label her, exclude her from our circles, and at times we take it as far as confronting her about it. If a woman dates a much younger man, we call her desperate, and other worse names, while in the case of the man, we file it as a midlife crisis. We are quick to condone the mistakes of the members of the opposite sex, while we deal severely and judgmentally with those of members of our own. But, the woman we deal the harshest with is ourselves. Oftentimes, we give ourselves no fighting chance.
How frequently do you beat yourself down? You constantly tell yourself that you do not measure up. You do not have what it takes. You are not beautiful enough, nor intelligent enough. Your nose is not straight enough, you hair is not the right texture, to mention but a few superficial examples. Whenever a thought comes to inspire you to do something positive with your life, you quickly silence it with a ‘but’. But, I let myself fall pregnant when I was young, who will want to marry me? I didn’t get to finish school, who will hire me? I have allowed myself to get this fat, how will I lose all this weight? You pay no attention to the fact that besides being a good mother, you are a vibrant, intelligent woman, the total package, which any man would be proud to call his wife, or that the experience you have gained from all your years of hard work has given you a far better edge than any college degree would have. You do not see that you are a determined and strong-willed woman, who can do anything she sets her mind to, including losing weight. For every positive thing you say to yourself, you have ten negative reasons why that cannot be true. Stop!!!... What gives you the right?
Dear friend, nothing gives you and I the right to mess with God’s creation. Although we strive for perfection, none of us is perfect. We always make mistakes. Now, it’s time to forget all the past mistakes we committed in ignorance. Let’s put all our imperfections behind us. We cannot allow them to accuse us any longer. When God said, ‘Do not judge’ and, ‘Do not condemn’, He included you and I in the list of those we shouldn’t judge and condemn. We have no right to take the woman that God created in His own image, and to tear her down piece by piece, until the image of God in her is unrecognizable. God created her to rule over ALL the earth. He wants her to have everything under her control. His plans for her are big. It is high time you and I gave this woman a break!