"Thoughts of a Forgiving Black Woman"

I’m extremely attracted to the themes Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Not only do I try to practice their meanings, I also love teaching these subjects any chances given. During my first semester at Drew, I enrolled in “The Art of Theological Reflections: Forgiveness and Reconciliation. This course challenged me intellectually and spiritually, and impacted my life. My research and study have not ceased. I do believe in the “law of repetition”–the power of learning and coming into more areas of truth. Listening to a television broadcast (the other day), a gentleman was teaching the Word of God through the gift of wisdom. He asserts, “the law of Forgiveness is to be in relationship.” Well, another light bulb flicked on. I thought to myself, “Wow! That’s it! When forgiveness is offered, he/she is merely saying I desire to be in relationship with you no matter the cause.” The offended is offering a new possibility, sees a fresh opportunity, and willingly decides to “work out and through the cob webs.”

For the above mentioned course I was required to do a resource report. I chose Tyler Perry’s movie, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” Below is my reporting through a forgiveness and reconciliation lens. I agree with Perry’s view, in part. The offended character, Helen, chose to write to her diary as oppose to writing to God. Cicely, in “The Color Purple” book wrote letters to God and others to express, transform and liberate herself. David’s psalms were about himself, exposing the character of enemies and gentle, powerful God we serve. Yet, David was liberated.

The Art of Theological Reflection: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Resource Report by Jacqueline T. Powell

Sample 1
“Diary of a Mad Black Woman”
Written and Produced by Tyler Perry

Main Characters
Charles – Steve Harris
Madea – Tyler Perry
Orlando – Shemar Moore
Helen – Kimberly Elise

The Story
Filled with a mix of comedy and drama, the film “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” is based on the immensely popular play of the same name written by Tyler Perry. The story focuses on Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise), who has seemingly had the perfect life with husband Charles McCarter (Steve Harris). Over the years, Helen has been a faithful and loving wife, while Charles built a successful and lucrative career as a prominent Atlanta attorney. They wear the latest fashions, drive the nicest cars, have all the possessions they need, and they live on an expansive estate complete with an extravagant mansion, swimming pool, tennis court and all the trappings of wealth – a little piece of paradise away from the city. However, on the eve of their 18th wedding anniversary, Helen’s paradise begins to crumble as Charles announces that he wants a divorce. He abruptly and literally tosses Helen out of the mansion to make room for the other woman.

With all of her possessions packed in a moving van, Helen starts on her journey to put the pieces of her life back together. Through the assistance of her friends, family, faith, and a twist of fate, Helen finds the strength and empowerment she needs to get control of her circumstances. She also finds that the tragic events of her life soon become comic, especially with the guidance and help– mostly unsolicited, by the way–of her pot-smoking, gun-toting, and much beloved, grandmother figure Madea (Tyler Perry).

Director Darren Grant brings Tyler Perry’s vision to the screen by intricately weaving together a mix of drama and comedy to tell the universal experience of broken hearts, redemption, forgiveness, recovery, new found love, inner strength and the importance of family and faith as revealed through a cast of colorful and sometimes familiar characters.
(Cited from http://www.diaryofamadblackwomanmovie.com)

Theological Reflection
In the movie, “Diary of a Mad Black Women,” Tyler Perry reveals the hidden agendas of unhealthy marital relationships. He stealthily bridges a common ground for forgiveness and reconciliation by demonstrating one of the various healing processes, which lead to forgiveness/reconciliation. When the offender harms/offends the offended, this wound can produce anger, bitterness, hate, infraction/brokenness, etc, as shown in the main character, Helen.

Perry defines forgiveness/reconciliation by constraining the character into a place of alienation and separation for a season.

• The offended is separated from the offender
• Alienated from the place of the transaction in order to come to a place of repentance wholeness and restoration.
• Gives her life back to God and herself
• Devotes time to writing/confessing deep feelings/emotions
• Finds a new life
• Begins to work/gain independence

Although both the offender and offended confess their wrongs after a long elapse of time, forgiveness and reconciliation could not be promoted without time apart for healing. Furthermore, sometimes when starting over again either person can still be sensitive, initially, to what occurred. Eventually, the art of forgiveness will take affect, if he or she wants it. Dr. Wesley Ariarajah says, “repentance/confession does not solve the problem. A relationship cannot be restored until the victim forgives. Brokenness must be reconciled for wholeness to manifest.”

Perry extends insightful messages on the process of healing. Depending on the transaction, the offended may use different methods to find him/herself, healing and restoration. The length of time depends on the individual. In this case, the offended willingly allows time to minister to the connection of the body, mind and spirit—all of humanness. Consequently, during this moment, the offended will also experience bitterness and anger, especially if the moment repeats itself. The offended will turn to other sources for comfort, and use this method to massage the “sting from the wound.”

The problem in the message of the resource is that some do not know how to display the characteristics of what Perry presents. The offended may not know how to forgive, or find wholes and restoration. The offended may not be open to the ministering or remedying of the mind, spirit and body.

This resource can be used in an extended conversation in the local church for those who have experienced similar emotional/physical hurts from relationships. Everyone will have comments and/or opinions. This resource can propel the local church into the:

• Courage to confess and tell the truth
• Courage to absorb the hurt and forgive
• Readiness and word practice to begin a new relationship

The potential pitfalls for using this resource in an extended conversation in the local church would be how some would react to such exposure.

Supporting Movie Scenes
Scene 2-The Fight between Helen and Charles
Scene 7-Anger/Bitter Consciousness
Scene 11-Going back to Charles. Exposing/releasing of anger and bitterness
Scene 12-Realizes she still loves him…
Scene 15 & 16 –Reconciles with Charles by divorcing him. Finds Orlando and love, again.

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