Michelle Wilson Green is an inspirational author, award winning educator and empowerment speaker who began writing while working as a school principal in South Carolina. Her debut novel, Anything Can Happen, shares a powerful message of inspiration and self-improvement and has garnered national attention and been recognized by notable programs, including the NAACP Martin Luther King Day program and The Annual Christian Women’s Fellowship Conference. Green’s hardships and adversities formed the basis of Anything Can Happen and inspired her to launch By Faith Empowerment Group LLC, an organization whose aim is to bring about change in the laws of domestic violence with emphasis on teen couples and gun control in the state of South Carolina.
I have often heard the saying “life is so unfair”, which often is true, but how we come out of situations largely depends on our faith, belief system, convictions, and more importantly our perception. Yes, we all are wired to face trials in life but sometimes the difference is whether we fight the good fight of faith and overcome or simply give up. It is difficult to believe that one person could be faced with so much loss and adversity, but Michelle Green was graced all along to be what I clearly define as the face of an overcomer.
Q: Tell us about Michelle, the woman, the author, your testimony and the face of an overcomer.
During the course of what seemed like an eternity, but ended up being just a few years, my life took a downward spiral that seemed literally out of control. From the diagnosis of prostate cancer in my husband and ultimately finding out about his infidelity to the death of my father and mother, I was lost. Then the morning of February 10, some time ago, came and my life was changed “for real”. Without having the opportunity to make things right again and bring resolve to our issues, my husband was killed two miles from our front door on his way to work. Our end came without us resolving our ending. I had lost three key individuals in such a short period of time.
Then, my confident, best friend and prayer partner who suffered with lupus died the following year. She was the one that I could turn to for prayer and understanding even when others did not understand. I endured all of these losses and pressed my way. Then on November 20, 2006 I just knew that God had left me. There was no way that he could still love me. I received that phone call that shook my very being. It rattled me to the core. My son, who had endured a tour of duty in Mosul, Iraq, had just been murdered right outside his apartment complex in Columbia, SC. A murder for foolishness sake, all centered around teenage domestic violence. Not only was my son murdered, but also my nephew was shot and is now a paraplegic.
My pattern of life had been permanently scared. I was experiencing something that goes against nature. I was experiencing something that had no name. Of yes, if you lose your parents you are considered an orphan. If you lose a spouse you are considered a widow. But, this…this…there was no name to describe this. I was now a bereaved parent, a parent of a murdered child. The word bereaved means to literally be torn apart. This described me! The bottom had been literally pulled out from under me. I went to counseling. I called and begged for prayer. I read books about grief and moving on. I read my bible. I prayed without ceasing. I even traveled hundreds of miles for therapy in Tennessee seeking help. I was in despair and wanted healing.
A year passed after my son died and over two years since my husband had died and I was still stuck. I could not find my place in life anymore. I pretended that I was better. As a principal I ran my school with proficiency. Our state standardized scores soared. I was named the South Carolina Elementary School Principal for the state of South Carolina while I was going through the “thick” of things. But still I suffered.
Q: With so much loss in your life, who empowered you to overcome and forgive?
One day I left school to go home and cry. One of my teachers, who is also a minister, came to my home and her question astounded me. She asked me a profound question…she asked if I had forgiven my husband for the hurt that I had endured through his infidelity. She knew just how much I loved and treasured my marriage. This forgiveness thing…I was not sure how to do it. Oh yes, I was a Christian and believed in Christ, but I felt that if I forgave my husband, I was somehow condoning that what he did was okay. So I continued to struggle.
On the Wednesday of my counseling trip for therapy, I was astounded on what the lesson was. The day’s lesson was on “forgiveness.” When the lesson was introduced, tears began to flow from my eyes. I finally realized that I had a work to do and I had to do it right away. I did my work that day, and from that point on, I was freed. I was delivered from the prison of unforgiveness. Since that time in my life I have been able to practice forgiveness in other aspects of my life, true forgiveness. I realized that when you forgive someone for a wrong they have done to you, you take back your power; you take back your control and in turn experience freedom. Unforgiveness is like a holding cell that keeps you in bondage. I had finally set the prisoner free realizing that the prisoner was me.
Q: How do you feel your testimony and experience with unforgiveness and grief have been used to empower others?
I have now established the organization By Faith Empowerment Group, LLC.
This organization’s overall focus is to work with young adults who are involved or have the potential to get involved with teen domestic violence. I also have a yearning to work with individuals on how to establish and gain the fortitude to forgive those who have hurt them. Forgiveness is a strong piece that when put together as in a puzzle will empower you and make you whole.
At the end of each chapter in my book “Anything Can Happen” I give lessons learned in that chapter. Each lesson learned is something that an individual can use to make their life better. Below you will find lessons learned from the chapter on forgiveness.
Michelle’s top 5 lessons for forgiveness
1. You have to first decide within your heart that you are ready to forgive. Advice from others is good, but you can only forgive when you chose to forgive. You can only be free when you chose to be free.
2. When you forgive, you have empowered yourself. You have taken back what is rightfully yours (dignity and self- worth). The victim mentality is gone and you become more than a conqueror. You become whole.
3. When you forgive, you have exonerated yourself of the hurt and pain that you feel. Now this does not mean that you may not ever look back on the situation at times, but the agony and pain will no longer control you.
4. Once you forgive you are no longer stuck…you liberate yourself!
5. Forgiving is for yourself not the other person!
Now let’s use these tips to forgive, stand strong in our faith and overcome!
Feel welcome to share your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about Felicia Smith
Felicia Smith is an author and Empower Magazine columnist. www.queendreamz.com