God and Sexual Assault

Forgiveness

How do we forgive?

forgivenessJust the title of this post kind of makes you cringe doesn’t it? Forgiveness. How do we do that? In my head I hear all the preachers and Sunday School teachers telling me, “Jesus forgave you so you should forgive as well.” Oh, but it is not that easy. Maybe to the person who stole my pencil in the third grade, or the guy who cut in line at Wal-Mart, but for what was done to us?

How do we forgive sexual abuse and rape? Is that even possible? Just when I think I’m on my way to forgiveness I realize, “Nope, I’m not even close to it yet.” However, here is what I’ve learned and what I believe God is teaching me.

When talking to my Christian therapist about forgiveness and what I had heard another pastor say about how I should “forgive and forget”, he gave me some advice I took to heart. He told me to look at who is telling me to forgive. Have they had to forgive someone for something like what I’ve been through? If not, take that into account and let what they said go. Because we are all aware on this journey we cannot forgive and forget. We must work through our trauma to heal and get better. It takes time.

I pray every day for God to soften my heart toward my abusers. For God to convict them and for them to confess. To take away my anger and replace it with understanding and forgiveness. I honestly didn’t expect this to work at first. I didn’t think I would ever “understand” any of what happened. Plus, I want them to say, “I’m sorry.”

However, God did after a long time, begin to soften my heart little by little. He began to place some understanding in me as well. What exactly had my abusers been through in their life to make them into the people they became? It is not an excuse for what they did. They did ultimately make the choice to do wrong and hurt us. However, there are things in their lives that made them into the people they are. Possibly things they had no choice over. To that God began to help me have an understanding.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not understand their choice to sexually abuse and rape. I do not believe I ever will understand that choice they made. It was not okay.

What I understand more is the life they were dealt. Just like our lives. We did not choose to be sexually abused and raped. However we were and we have chosen a different path than they did. We are choosing to work through our pain and be the people God wants us to be. They chose to hurt others. That is the difference.

The understanding is the first step God is using to work on my heart. He’s also taking away some of the anger. There’s still a lot there and every time I think it’s not it rears its ugly head. Like today, working through another trauma in therapy. Once I got home I broke down and cried. “What he did was not okay! It was not! I hate him!” Anger at its finest.

So I turned it over to God again. I have found He is the only one who can take the anger away.  Through time and working through every trauma I believe He will and He can, but I have to continue to give it to Him. Along with asking Him to help me forgive.

I know God has forgiven me and I did not deserve it. What is also hard to take in is that he will forgive my abusers if they ask too and that is even harder for me to be okay with. But I’m working on it with God.

So forgiveness is another hard step in recovery. I have no idea when it will come. I do know it will be done, not for my abusers, but for me and my relationship with God. That is the reason I continue to pray for God to work out forgiveness in my heart. To bring me closer to Him.

Know this is another incredibly hard step and you are not alone in your feelings. Bring them to God and ask Him to help you with them. He will. I can attest to that. One day I truly believe He will work out forgiveness in all our hearts. That is my prayer for you and all of us today.

God,

You know my heart and you know my pain. I want to be able to forgive those who hurt me so deeply, but I need Your help. Please take away my anger and work my heart toward forgiveness. Close this gap between us so our relationship is stronger. I cannot do this without You.

Amen

© 2019 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

 

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