Have you ever said or done something to a friend or another person for which you had to ask their forgiveness? Has anyone hurt you and asked your forgiveness?
Asking for forgiveness is not an easy thing to do and neither is accepting it. But, it’s important to do.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
I want to share with you a very personal story of forgiveness….
As a young six year old girl, I was taken advantage of in a sexual way. I was molested by a man who, through common law marriage, was my uncle. He and my aunt had been together many years. This act of molestation took place almost every weekend over a period of 6+ years. You may all be wondering how it began and continued so long? I cannot tell you that. All I know is I didn’t understand what was happening but I knew something wasn’t right. What I thought at first was innocent affection turned into a nightmare. Each time it happened, I became more afraid to the point where I couldn’t move. There was a great fear that came over me. I felt paralyzed in my body. He controlled me and I didn’t know how to stop him. Who could I tell? Who would believe me?
Well, I didn’t tell anyone for several years. I was about 20 years old before I said anything. And, when I did, it was only to protect someone else. To this day, when I share what happened to me, I can recount every smell, every piece of furniture in the room, what was playing on TV, etc. This part of my journey is forever sketched on my memory.
So, you are probably wondering how I’ve moved past such great pain?
How did I moved past this horrific offense to a place of forgiveness? It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure!
I accepted Christ Jesus as my Savior when I was sixteen years old. As I grew in the Lord and realized the greatness of what Christ did for me on the cross, I wanted to extend that same grace, mercy, and forgiveness to those who hurt me. I also knew I needed others to forgive my offenses toward them. When dealing with the court proceedings with my case against my molester, I was reminded to trust the Lord and not try to get my own revenge. In doing so I was also encouraged, through the reading of God’s word, to forgive him. I came to realize sin is sin. There isn’t a scale by which God measures sin. We can’t say one person’s sin is greater than another. Any act against God or outside of God’s will is sin. There is no BIG sin and LITTLE sin.
With that said, my sin against another is equal to this man’s sin against me. So, if I want God’s forgiveness for my sin, I must forgive any and all sin committed against me. And I did…..
With everything in me, I prayed and prayed. As I said, it wasn’t easy. I struggled with feelings of anger and hatred toward him. I dreamed of hurting him to the point of wanting him to be tortured. But, eventually I moved to a place of forgiveness. I confronted him one day. I told him that he nearly destroyed me. He took away my innocence and I would never get that back. As I cried through it, I also shared that I put my faith in God and that God had forgiven me. I told him that I forgive him as God has forgiven me. It wasn’t easy to do but I did it. I don’t wish any ill will toward him. I pray for his soul.
To this day I still don’t understand why he did what he did. I don’t have to. But, I do have to live in that forgiveness. Sometimes when I feel bitterness rising up in me for what he did, I have to remind myself that it has been placed at the feet of Jesus. I don’t need to live in fear of that man any longer.
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