Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)
- TITLE: The Key was Forgiveness
By Carolyn Ancell
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Ten hours later, she awoke in her dark apartment, lying across her bed, half-clothed. Her head spinning, she sat up, then vomited. As the dawn crept near, she searched through her mental fog and pieced it all together. He had drugged and raped her. She called in sick to the school, then dialed her doctor's office. Her doctor said, "You should have been more careful." A door slammed in her heart. She thought of telling her principal. But, the word of a newbie against the word of Teacher of the Year, married with children? Another door slammed in her heart. She could not tell her mother 3,200 miles away. Her mother would become hysterical and insist that she leave her job and come back home. A third door slammed in her heart. The experience, the memory, the shock and trauma were all instantly pushed down, buried, locked away. For the next 18 years.
Then one afternoon, she was turning her car left, west, into the light of a beautiful setting sun, when the memory returned. It returned entirely, but peacefully, with no fanfare or noise. That night, she went to sleep thanking the Lord for holding the memory for her until she could bear it, unlocking and opening the door to it now when she could handle it.
But in the middle of the night, she woke in her dark apartment, this time in a rage. Anger, hatred, desire for revenge and retribution filled her. Even the light of day brought no relief. The statute of limitations had surely run out; she no longer even remembered his name; she had no idea how to seek justice. "Lord," she cried. "How could you have unlocked one door, let me out of one prison, only to leave me in one far darker, far more dangerous?"
Week after week, she raged. Until one day, ragged and exhausted, she simply, quietly prayed,"Help." In response to her one-word prayer, the Lord answered her with one word. "Forgive."
After several more weeks of anguish, soul-searching, arguing with herself and with God, and many tears, she came to her decision, called a friend, a wise old spiritual mentor, met with him and told him the story, and asked, "Please pray with me. Please be a support and a witness." And then she prayed. "Lord, help me. I forgive. I forgive."
Forgiveness was the key. Her prison door flew open. She was free, really, entirely, and peacefully.
Five years passed, and she was teaching a city-wide church workshop on the topic of forgiveness. It was then she told her story. Some listeners wept with emotion. Others nodded in silent understanding and solidarity. Several, however, rejected the possibility that such a simple thing as forgiveness could have been the key to liberate her from a prison of anger, hatred and rage. They insisted that she still cling to the injustice done to her, and seek justice for it. But she knew, she knew that from the moment she uttered those words, "I forgive. I forgive," that she was whole again, fully alive, deeply healed, and free.
The key had been forgiveness.
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