Many of you know that I am starting a ministry at my church in about a month. It is for women who have been sexually abused and I named it Fractured Wholeness.
Any-who I am currently reading a book by Paula Sandford Healing Victims of Sexual Abuse and in chapter 4 “A Garland for Ashes–The healing process” there is a section about forgiveness. As I was reading it I was recalling a conversation I had with someone a few weeks ago. She mentioned that forgiveness is an integral part of healing. In the moment I thought “sure, whatever” but I nodded my head and said, “sure.” But now as I read this section I believe she was right.
Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process. Not because it lets someone “off the hook” but because it frees you. I was angry for many years at my attackers. I thought I will punish them by never forgiving what they did to me. They changed my life, they changed who I was, and they took something I did not freely give. They should be punished but my passive aggressive anger towards people I don’t even know anymore does not hurt them it hurts me.
The anger I had toward them ate away at me. It made me fly off the handle and every time I thought about the abuse in my past it wasn’t really in my past. By holding on to my anger it made everything an ever-present challenge.
Now don’t get me wrong I have to deal with it on a daily basis but holding on to anger made it much worse. I never confronted any of my abusers. Some of that was due to confusion about what happened (was it abuse? did i deserve it?) but some of that was fear that if people knew then I would be bad. Most women who have been abused feel that they are bad on the inside and unloveable. When I held on to my anger towards my abusers I thought I was punishing them. I thought that somehow if I held them off with my anger then I could survive.
But I AM STRONGER than that! When I let go of the anger towards Lisa, Jason, and Travis I began to live again. I could see that forgiving them did not mean that what happened was okay. It wasn’t. I did not cause it. I did nothing wrong. They are to blame but holding on to anger towards them won’t make me feel better.
I also had to let go of anger towards my parents. When we are little we just assume that our parents are superheroes that can save us even when we cannot speak up. It is not their fault that I could not tell them. It is not their fault that they ignored bad feelings they had toward my abuser. When I let go of the anger I was able to see that this is a common occurrence. Which fueled me to want to develop classes to teach parents to listen to their instincts. When you have bad feelings about your kids’ friends you should go with it. You should pay attention to that feeling and do something about it even when your kid(s) say nothing is wrong.
Before I could let go of my anger towards my abusers and towards my parents I had to let go of my anger towards God. I believe God sees everything. There is nothing he does not see and there is nothing he cannot do. So why didn’t he save me from my abusers? Free will. I firmly believe that God has a plan for all of us but I also believe that God allows us to take a different way. He has A-Z figured out but sometimes we take A2 or C2 and sure that route will get us to Z but it might have more bumps in the road than the original plan. My life has had numerous potholes and speed bumps that I might have been able to bypass if people didn’t get in my way. Lisa, Jason, and Travis got in my way. They made the road a lot rougher than it had to be. For a long time I thought God could have saved me, he could have stopped it. But when led through a prayer I asked God to show me where he was and I got a vivid picture of God weeping in the corner of my childhood bedroom as Lisa abused me. God weeps for and with us. He does not abandon us but he does not save us from other’s free will. He did not remove me from that situation or the situations that followed it but I’m okay with that. I find him weeping for/over me very comforting. Sure he didn’t step in but HE DIDN’T LEAVE either. God never leaves us.
My dad says that I have always had great faith. And I think he is right. I have always been touched by the Spirit and I have always had faith that God exists and because of that faith I am never left alone even when I try to leave God behind.
Now to turn a bad situation into a good one I have turned to helping other women out there that have been abused and used as I have. Our situations are different and we may heal differently but I know God is going to show me how to help them. I have this unique experience so that I can help others like me. Others who are angry at their abusers. Others who are angry at their families. Others who are angry at God. Others who need healing. Others who need help and don’t know how to ask for it. Others that are looking for someone just like them.
God didn’t stop this from happening to me and I can honestly say I am okay with that. I want to help others let go of their anger and accept that forgiveness is necessary for their own healing.