Four years ago I found that someone very special to me had been sexually abused by a family member when she was a little girl. Because she was only seven years old at the time she was afraid to tell anyone what had happened to her for fear of not being believed. Her silence and fear took control and permitted the abuse to repeat itself over and over.
For the next several years the ugly secret lay dormant within this little girls soul. During her teenage years, the self-induced silence began to take its toll. Her style of dress went from brand name to baggy for baggy clothes would turn eyes away from her obvious physical beauty. She felt unworthy of compliments and untrusting towards anyone giving them. Her arms and legs reflect the ugly scars from the pain she inflicted upon herself for the pain she carried deep within. Self-mutilation, or cutting, had become a close “friend” over the years to come as had speed and alcohol. They were the “friends” that stood by her when she felt God had forsaken her. These “friends” would keep her mind awake and hands busy during the many nights that she feared sleeping, risking the horrific nightmares that came when she would close her eyes and try to rest.
“God, where were you?”, “Why didn’t you protect her?” , “Why didn’t you stop her from the pain she was going through?”
This young girl is now a beautiful young woman who is still dealing with the emotional demons of her past. Her self-destructive behavior has lessened but still reappears at times, overwhelming her and her judgment. God is using the pain of her past in a great and mighty way. I have never known another person such as she that personifies the love and behavior of Jesus Christ towards those who are hurting, forgotten, broken, sick, downtrodden, or unable to help themselves. To share Jesus’ love, we must be able to share Jesus’ scars.
Every person comes into this world with a free will, the freedom to choose between right and wrong. Living by our own will and doing what we feel is right and ok, is not the same as living according to the will of God and we will not receive God’s blessing on our life. If our behavior is such that it brings pain to another person, we are not living as God wants us to but by our own will and desire. Any behavior that does not lift God up before man drags man down before God. God cannot force us to make the right decision-nor is He the blame for our bad ones.
When a person driven by his own will and desire inflicts emotional, physical or sexual abuse upon another person he plants a seed of hatred in the soul of the abused person. From that seed hatred grows into anger, from anger bitterness, from bitterness resentment, from resentment rebellion, from rebellion disrespect. How does one get rid of such destructive emotions?
Forgiveness is unimaginable, unthinkable. For, to forgive the abuser would mean to let go of the hate and anger that they justly deserve. Do feelings other than hate and anger even exist? Oftentimes it’s easier holding on to the pain than letting it go. The emotional and physical scars left behind are the constant reminders of those who hurt us, of those who turned against us, and those who let us down. But…….
What would JESUS do???
Jesus was crucified by those who once followed him. They turned against him. They let him down. He was hung on a wooden cross. Nails pierced his hands and feet. A crown of thorns was placed upon his head. Blood and life poured from his body.
What DID Jesus do???
Even as he hung on the cross, dying before all men, in all his pain and torment Jesus’ final words were:
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Jesus FORGAVE those who betrayed him, who turned against him, who inflicted pain upon him, who let him down.
Forgiveness IS possible, but only with the help of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness releases the bondage of hate and bitterness that holds our heart in the painful darkness of solitary confinement.
God is our heavenly Father, our Maker and Creator. We are his children and He loves us and cares about us more than we will ever know. His heart aches when even one of his children is hurting. Through God’s grace and mercy we are given the ability to forgive others for the pain they caused us. Forgiveness is a choice that only we can make for ourselves. It is a choice that affects our heart, our mind, our soul and our spirit. Forgiveness removes the darkness that has filled our heart and allows love, peace and joy to once again flow within us.
Dealt with properly-with a forgiving heart-the pain we’ve endured can turn into love towards those who need loved the most.
“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 you.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
Read more articles by Trish Jones or search for articles on the same topic or others.