Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness – With A Laugh & A Tear

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I didn’t think I would write a post in continuation of the last one.  I didn’t think I would write another post that partly dealt with Nicki, but here we are.  I need to share something that God placed on my heart today that not only gets into my failed relationship, but it’s something that gets into my comedy persona and my personal life as well.  I can sum it up in one word.

forgiveness

I know what I am about to write some of you may find a bit over the top, hard to believe or think I am full of shit, and that’s your right.  Just read the rest of this and hear me out first.

Let me ask you something.  How easy is it for you to forgive?  Maybe a better question is do you know how to forgive?  Forgiveness is something that is a lifestyle, it’s something specifically that Jesus calls believers in the Bible to do every day, every time somebody betrays them.

I attended a free workshop this weekend, it’s the fourth time I’ve taken it.  It’s called “Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness” that is put on by Boyd Hopkins and Spoken Word Ministries here in Saskatoon. It goes Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

It it Christ-centered?  Yes.  Is it Bible-focused on the teachings of Jesus?  Yes.  Is it filled with real-world examples from the speaker about forgiveness?  Yes.

Is it boring?  Not at all.

It’s one of those seminars where every word doesn’t come from the bible.  It’s not psychology based either.  It’s a weekend of learning about how to forgive in  very easy to understand format.

Some of you may ask if I’ve taken this four times already, why am I just grasping these principles of forgiveness now?  Does that mean that when I took the course before and extended forgiveness to others, that I was simply full of shit and a liar?

I asked that question to the speaker of this seminar, and he basically told me that the 70 page workbook he put together for this free seminar is about ten years of his life where he made mistakes, betrayed others, and had people betray him as well.  In the end, it’s about choosing to let go of the hurt, give it to God and move forward, whether that means re-engaging the relationship or just going on.

This stuff is life changing, if you open up your heart and let it change you from the inside out.  Now, when I re-engaged my relationship with Nicki back in October, I did release forgiveness upon her.  But as the weeks went by and tough times came along, all the principles of forgiveness that Nicki and I both learned from that same seminar we attended last summer, well, they just kind of disappeared on me when I needed them the most.  It wasn’t just stuff about forgiveness that I forgot at that key time, as this seminar also has Biblical precedence set out regarding how you deal in relationship to each other, sort of like a workbook of how to get along.

The biggest eye opener for me was flipping through each page of this workbook and for the first time in this seminar, it hit me.  I finally began to understand what my hurt and betrayal of others looked like to them.  I also saw what this “motivation” (you could call it hate or spite, but it’s really unforgiveness too) did to me in my comedy, how keeping that anger, frustration and hurt inward I thought was serving as a catalyst to get better, when in reality it made me an ass to deal with.

Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness workshop manual, pt on by Spoken Word Ministries Association

Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness workshop manual, put on by Spoken Word Ministries Association

So I basically had unforgiveness in four areas of my life, and ironically enough these are the same four areas that fulled my material for comedy.  They are Nicki (more specifically the context of the relationship that we had), my family, my comedy career and my friends.

By now you have all read about the way my family is.  If you haven’t, read the post from a couple months ago called “God Must Be A Blackjack Dealer”.  It won’t take a genius to figure out after too long that sure, there may be issues within my family that my parents did create, but it’s harbouring unforgiveness in my life, meaning I hang on to the hurt, the hate and the disappointment.  With each post I write about my family it seems like the language I use to describe the family dynamics intensifies, and that isn’t healthy.  It’s not only physically unhealthy, it’s spiritually unhealthy.  If it’s unhealthy to your spirit, it will be unhealthy to everything that’s on the inside of you.

Some of my friends have fallen by the wayside in the last several months.  Some who have been very good, loyal friends.  I can think of a few close friends in particular (there are three) where I have lost a relationship with them.  They are people who have seen me through tough times as I have seen them through their struggles as well.  People that I have known for anywhere from 7 – 15+ years.  I have to admit that my life is not as enriched, it’s not as full as it could be without those lost friendships.

Then there’s the comedy side of it.  Holy cow, I can see how I was one angry dude on stage with all of this unforgiveness I had!  My critics, comedy fans, other comedians and family made up the majority of the anger and hurt I tried to work through on stage.  But herein lies the problem.  Trying to succeed in comedy to show others up might not be the best way to go about things, at least for me.  That’s because if you get so focused on showing everybody else up, it takes away from your rehearsing, the practice and it takes the joy out of doing comedy.  It will suck the passion right out of you.  I know.  I’ve been there, then I go and take that out on others.

At the end of the day I need to release all those negative emotions that I thought were driving me to succeed, when instead they just drove a deeper wedge into relationships I had with people.  I need to ask God for the forgiveness that only He can provide, and give all my cares to Him.  That way, a load will be lifted off of my shoulders, and I can then focus with a clear conscious and a healthy spirit on being funny once again.  Maybe that shift in focus, that shift in my attitude of having forgiveness will make a difference to my performances.

Now, that’s three areas of unforgiveness I harboured towards people, leaving one last one.  That has to do with Nicki.

I think she may be tired of me writing about her or angry, wishing that I would stop.  But here is the thing.  I have a way with words.  I mean, I’m really, really, really good with words.  I have been like that since I was a kid.  In grade four, I could read and write at an 8th grade level.  If you don’t believe how good of a writer I am, all you have to do is ask Nicki.

Whether it be one sentence, or a blog post titled “God Must Be A Blackjack Dealer”, I could bring her tears of joy, tears of sorrow, or both.  Ladies and gentleman, if you want to know, I mean really, really, really know what someone means to you in their life and in yours, all you have to do is use words.  It’s best to write them down, and be as malicious, as ignorant, as hurtful and as full of spite as you can make them.  Then the level of hurt the other person has will show you the depth of their love they had for you.

When I mentioned earlier on that every page showed me what the hurt I caused looked like to the other person, on every page all I could see was Nicki.  But this workshop is not to condemn or beat you over the head for your mistakes.  It’s to release the power of forgiveness that we already have been granted by the cross.  It means to cast your cares to the Lord and let Him deal with those issues, because believe you me, he will.  The problem is he doesn’t tell us when.  It’s not about our timing, rather His.  Until then we must stay in faith and positively expect for things to turn out the way we hope.

That is what I did with my legal issue and of the relationship.  I just knew by faith that God would show up and turn things around, provided I saw the signs in the natural (world) and listened to what was placed in my heart to act upon them.

Spoken Word Ministries has a few different topics they hold seminars on, but the Forgiveness one is the core one, the grand daddy of them all.  They are usually held about twice a year.  When the next forgiveness seminar comes up in Saskatoon or in a close-by rural area, you need to attend it.  Even if you have just a basic understanding of God, you will learn so much.  The manual may be mostly Bible based, but the way the speaker teaches it is not.  I wanted to talk about a couple of key principles that really weighed on my heart this weekend, but I will not divulge any of its content.  You will have to experience it for yourselves.

As for myself, I think my biggest problem was that once the course was over last year, the manual wasn’t opened after that, maybe because I didn’t fully understand it.  I wasn’t spiritually mature enough to understand how to apply the Biblical principles associated with forgiveness.  I understand it.  I get it. I’ve forgiven.  I have been forgiven by God.  I now have a game plan in place that I am moving forward with, and no I shall not make known what that game plan is.  Only God and myself know.

Having that weight off of me will allow me to pursue comedy with a more pure, more honest heart, being less malicious towards others.  

Rev. Boyd Hopkins is the founder of Spoken Word Ministries Association. He was 10 years of experience in pastoral ministry and has made mission trips to the Congo in Africa to teach the church leaders, police and the military this Freedom Through Forgiveness seminar. More information can be found at www.swma.ca or on his Facebook page at Spoken Word Ministries.

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