This is the third of seven posts in the Becoming a Wounded Healer: My Story Through Abuse series. All posts available here.
My anger was quickly turning into hatred and bitterness. It was eating me alive and I knew I needed to forgive. Even so, I felt like if I were to forgive, I was saying that everything John did was okay, and I was giving up any hope for justice. I was not trusting God with the situation.
Two of my friends confronted me about my struggle. They reminded me of the book of 1 John in the Bible, where it says you cannot love God and hate your brother or sister. I had not thought of that before, and it scared me. I knew that with the intensity of what I felt, I didn’t have the strength to forgive on my own. I remembered a story from Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place. Corrie was imprisoned in the WWII concentration camps after being discovered for hiding Jews in her home. Miraculously, she survived, and went on to tour the globe, sharing about God’s love and forgiveness in the darkest of places. After one speaking engagement, a man came up to her and identified himself as one of the guards in her camp. He reached out his hand and asked for her forgiveness. She had just preached about forgiveness, but felt powerless to forgive this man. She told God she would stretch out her hand, and he would have to provide the strength. God did, and she forgave him. I figured if it worked for Corrie, it would work for me, too.
I remember kneeling on the floor in my parent’s living room and sobbing loudly. I asked for God’s strength, and finally forgave John, the church, and myself. I asked for God’s forgiveness for how I let hatred and bitterness grow inside me and come between me and God. I even called the pastor of the church to ask for forgiveness for how I acted in the situation. He was speechless. Even though they hadn’t treated me well, my reaction was still my problem. To say I found it hard to forgive is an understatement, but I knew I had to be obedient and trust God with the outcome. One of the things that held me back from forgiving was that I didn’t know what would happen. I realized that wasn’t up to me and I wasn’t in control. Once I forgave, I felt such peace and joy. I didn’t fully realize at the time that I would need to continue to choose to forgive.
Forgiveness was good, necessary, and Biblical, but it didn’t sort out all the problems. It took the poison out, but didn’t heal the wound. That process would continue.