Forgiveness: Do people change?

 Over the weekend I read TD Jakes’ book ‘Woman Thou art Loosed’. I had heard about it and to my surprise it is a novel and not a written sermon. The story delicately yet boldly depicts the life of a young woman who is molested by her mother’s boyfriend and falls into a spiral of drug abuse, prostitution and eventually prison. The girl’s mother refuses to believe that her man is a rapist and as a result neglects her child who goes on to be gripped by a bitterness and anger that culminates in the murder of her molester. I do not want to go into the ins and outs of the story because there are some unexpected turns that I would hate to ruin, nonetheless the book made me question – do people change? And if they do, how do we know that the change is forever and genuine?

The young woman kills her molester because she refused to believe that he could change. The thought of living knowing that he was alive was so overwhelming that she believed the only way she could have peace was by having him dead. I cannot for one second imagine how strong the hate must be for someone having their virginity, innocence and childhood so violently stolen away from them. However I do know in my own small way how it feels to strongly dislike someone who has massively hurt and offended me. Although I have managed to forgive (in most cases – praying that in 2012 I will see the full closure of all), I have doubted their claims that they have changed. Several times I have believed that they have not changed…and have been proved right. However I do not see it as a score board – I am right vs you are wrong: No. Instead I am now questioning if my presumptions have contributed to their seeming inability to be able to change? I remember during my Sociology studies learning about the ‘Self Fulfilling Prophecy’ – in a nut shell it is the theory that they way a person thinks and the way they are perceived by other people is the way they turn out.

For some people this is true – they live up to every expectation people have of them good or bad. However I have fought to try and be who I think I should be. When I was a little younger I fought so hard to go against what people thought about me that I sometimes went against what I wanted just because it was what other people wanted for me and I thought I had something to prove. Thankfully I have matured and no longer (well not consciously anyway) rebel against everything. Nonetheless reading the book has really made me think about what it takes for a person to change. I believe it has to be a personal drive and decision if the change is to last….

What are your thoughts?

Also on the subject of change my book ‘Finding Me’ is due to be released in March this year. It documents my journey of growth and finding my own identity, confidence and beauty. More to come on this soon! If you are interested in getting a complimentary copy for FREE and will promise to write a review – leave a message below.

Thanks.

Nissi x

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About Plantain Periodicals

Hello! Welcome to the Plantain Periodicals blogs. The name stems from the kitchen moments I had with my friends at university cooking plantain and planning our lives together. I have used this space as a window into my mind and the way I make sense of all my experiences through writing.This is where I share those conversations and moments that happen inside my head as a young woman growing up in 21st century London. Hopefully you'll be entertained and also learn a thing or two. My main blog ad: www.nissiknows.wordpress.com My literature blog: www.plantainperiodicals.wordpress.com NMx
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27 Responses to Forgiveness: Do people change?

  1. Wow, what a topic! It is said that true forgiveness is coupled with forgetfulness. For me, when I forgive, I accept that a mistake was made and either accept an apology or accept that whomever made the mistake is so deep in whatever path they are following that they are incapable of understanding that a mistake was made. Either was, I try to get over it.
    The most difficult part, however, is forgetting. I just can’t! Even with my own mistakes, I keep the lesson front-of-mind so I do not walk that path again. It’s not that I hold it against the person (at least, I try not to), it’s just that I recognize (especially if the person isn’t even aware they made a mistake) that it’s likely to recur and I should be careful and apply preventative measures.
    So can people change? Yes, but only if they want to. How does their change or lack of affect me? Not at all, I’m not judge or jury and people will do what they will regardless of your opinion. The only person I can affect change on is myself and that requires daily effort.
    Congratulations on your book; I’d love to read it but honestly, can not promise to write a review. I look forward to reading other’s reviews on it. Continue to be blessed!

  2. isaiah43123 says:

    You brought up some very interesting and thought provoking subjects.
    About change… it is possible if we first desire it and then allow our Creator to shape us into the people He wants us to be.
    About forgiveness… it is not based on the offenders behavior or your belief in his/her ability to change. We are to be forgiving, period. Again, another choice we must make.
    Keep the Faith!

  3. April says:

    I have read this book years ago. I love the way you summarized what Dr. Jakes is teaching through this book. Forgiveness is hard but it is what we are to do as Christians. We have to be willing to give people a chance to change. Yes, it is a personal decision for people to change but as they are trying to turn their lives around, we must be there to encourage them and to pray for and with them.
    Wonderful post!
    Blessings,
    April

  4. Susan Michaels says:

    WOW, huge congratulations on your upcoming book…soooo exciting! Yes, I’m definitely interested in writing a review for ‘Finding Me’….I live in Canada and you can get my email info at: 5wise.wordpress.com/about or connect with me on Facebook.

    I’ve read the TD Jakes book …it is powerful beyond words. A ‘must’ read. On the subjects and questions his book and you both raise…I agree with your reader, isaiah43123…Jesus spoke of 70×7 forgiveness. His awesome grace is the only door that opens the key to every heart to change. I have seen many lives changed by God, and would like to recommend an excellent writer on the subject of abuse and forgiveness, American Author, Speaker Charlotte D. Hunt, http://www.charlottehunt.com/ who writes of her personal experience with abuse. My 2011 novel, based on a powerful true story about generational patterns of sexual abuse also asks the question, ‘Can people change?’ http://neverwalkindarkness.com

    • Thanks for your response Susan. Isaiah perfectly sums up what our attitude to forgiveness should be…it is just so hard to practically follow through all the time. I will check the blogs and author out.
      Thanks for offering to review my book. I’ll get that to you asap.

      Nissi.

  5. nelle says:

    Best wishes with your book! I could not do a review to be honest, because no way I could be impartial. 🙂

    I did not know Jakes wrote fiction. I’ve seen quite a few tapes of his (at the camp there was a devoted community who watched in the ed room) and can picture his take on the subject. A fundamental element of Christianity (of all spirituality, really) is the element of forgiveness, and Pema Chödrön, Buddhist nun, offers ‘every living thing without exception has the potential to awaken’. The question is, do we help each other get there, by providing a nurturing framework where one can find their answers?

    Insecurity drives power needs, of which rape is one manifestation. People are insecure because of societal interaction and where they perceive themselves within that interaction.

    Advice I gave young students at the camp, best I can give…be you. Don’t follow the crowd, don’t pretend to be someone else, be you.

  6. dvdcsr says:

    I just love your writing. You are very well spoken. It’s very Carrie Bradshaw. 🙂

  7. expressari says:

    Abuse is a violent act- one that comes from power and control.
    When power is stolen from you, sometimes anger and violence back seems like the best option for your own cleansing…

    I never got revenge, and I know so many other people who have silenced themselves. Having experienced this, I can answer your question about whether or not they genuinely change. An abuser has it within them to do it and the change is a matter of monitoring themselves. Also, it involves owning that he or she is an abusive person and that it’s something to work on. Until then, there is no way to change.

    Best of luck on your book! And thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for your openness and honesty. I completely agree, unless there is acceptance of a problem by the abuser then change is hard to come by.

      • ljr3 says:

        Exactly, if the abuser does not or is not willing to admit he/she has a problem then change will not occur. I highly doubt many people change. There are probably a few but for the most part, unless something drastic happens to sway a person’s compass, we remain unchanged to a great degree.

        (P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog!)

  8. Michelle says:

    Sometimes forgiveness is a two way street…..but many a time it is something that we must do alone. The other party may be out of our life or not ready to deal with the issues. Forgiveness is not something that we do for others but something that we do for ourselves to be well and to move on. I agree the forgetting part is hard…..but like any lesson we can only learn what we remember…..so maybe we can shelve our bad experience like a book that has been read but keep it there to remind us of what we have learned and how to cope in the future.
    Change only ever happens when we are open and ready and we can only be responsible for our own changes and growths.We can’t be responsible for others actions, only our reactions to them.

  9. I have nominated you for the ABC award please see my page for details, congrats to you! I just won this book at a women’s meeting so I have to say I didn’t read this postl, I didn’t want a spoiler but I will get back to you on it!
    http://nadiesbrain.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/the-abc-award-awesome-blog-content-award/

  10. Oh how exciting, congratulations on your book! I would love more information on how to get a free copy.

    As far as forgiveness goes, I want to believe that people change. For me, I tend to forgive really easily, usually without needed to see the change 🙂

  11. Rebekka Lien says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I’ve learned that people may not change, but forgiveness has nothing to do with that person changing- it has everything to do with letting go and allowing yourself to heal. My father was absent for 10 years and still is, he lives in another continent and continues to live the same way. I realize that forgiveness takes years and years…but it’s a beautiful thing.

    • Sorry to hear about your father Rebekka. Your take on life however is great and am glad you are not bitter. As you say forgiveness is all to do with us and I believe completely necessary to live happy, full and enriched lives.

      Nissi x

  12. scroungelady says:

    Nissi,
    Some people are capable of change, others would benefit from change (at least from our perspective). Whether they do or not, you are correct that we must work towards forgiveness. I find Romans 12:9-21 helpful, though I struggle with hurt and anger at times.

    I would be happy to read your book and review it when it is available..

  13. Claire says:

    Thanks for another thought provoking post. My goal this year has been to be who I am and follow my heart, not to be who I think I “should” be. It’s not always easy; but I am much happier.

    I have nominated you as one of my favourite versatile bloggers. To see what this means check out my post at:
    http://clairewade.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/blessing-24-blog-love-versatile-blogger-award/

  14. pollyeb says:

    Just discovered your blog – really like your topics and style 🙂

    I really believe that people only change if they totally want to – but that they can be driven to change if they are able to love completely. It is only in love for ourselves and for others that we feel a desire to be a better person. As for forgiveness – yes, it can be hard to truly forgive – often when the way we’ve been wronged is so entrenched, we end up putting that wrongness on the perpetrator and never allowing them, in our doing so, to truly change… well, not for us, in any case. It just goes to show that change only comes out of love and respect for ourselves and trust that it is ok to move past the hurt.

    Keep up the fantastic work!!

  15. Pingback: Questions on Forgiveness « Intersections

  16. Bob says:

    Nissi, if people couldn’t change the Gospel would be for naught. The potential for transformation is available for all of us, whether or not we choose God’s way is another issue.

    I wouldn’t have time to do a review, but it’s exciting to see you are writing a book about identity. Actually, the connection between identity and change is very powerful. Anyone is free to listen online to my teaching series on the issue. http://searchforme.wordpress.com/audio/

    Thanks for your bold and persistent witness for Christ!

  17. Em says:

    Interesting points. i think sometimes people like than can change but often it seems that they have gone too fair down their path to ever begin trying to change. I always try to forgive people as holding anger towards them eats away at your own life.

  18. For me it is not so cut and dried as you should forgive and everyone can change if they want to. Yes the bible says we should forgive everyone because it is not for us to judge; that is up to God and the bitterness of holding anger towards someone hurts us more than it hurts them. I get all that.

    I think that If a child is raised being told he’ll never amount to anything there is a good chance they will prove you right. I read something that went something like this, “If you put a person in his place long enough eventually he will stay there.” I also believe there are people out there that will never amount to anything no matter you do but that doesn’t require forgiveness.

    I don’t think you can tell someone they are going to be a rapist or an abuser and it will happen. I don’t believe thinking your husband will cheat will make him a cheater even though a lot of men will use it as an excuse, “you were always accusing me so I thought why not do it”. I don’t think we have to forgive and keep that person in our life. I don’t think it is up to the victim to support their abuser in their attempt to change, setting themselves up for more abuse.

    Personally I forgave my ex for 10 yrs, for 10 years he apologized, made all kinds of promises and things only got worse. I almost lost my life. He has since apologized again and in the process told me it was sort of my own fault he hurt me; after all I kept taking him back so he’d think. “Well I got away with that how much more can I get away with?” I have forgiven him because he is sick, do I think he is capable of change? Not without extensive counseling and even then I strongly doubt it.

    I think we have to be very careful what message we send to young women about forgiving and forgetting and supporting someone who promises to change. There are evil people out there who prey (not pray) on forgiving trusting people.

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