As I wrote this next chapter I came to the revelation that this was the key to my recovery. I had struggled with the fact that my abusers didn’t deserve my forgiveness unless they showed true repentance from their actions towards me. I came to the awakening fact one day that I was not responsible for them and what they do. I was only responsible for myself and what I would do with my attachment to them through my unwillingness to let them go. May you find that same revelation as you read the following words.
I knew I needed to find Jesus’s forgiveness for not only myself but I needed to forgive all of my accusers and abusers. I could not move any further in this new found freedom and carry the resentments, anger and bitterness I had been carrying.
This is when I learned in my quest to really forgive so that I would be free and so those I forgave could be free. Forgiveness is an act of our will. You can’t wait until you feel like forgiving because you will never feel like doing it. We think the person doesn’t deserve forgiveness. God taught me that I would never use the force of my will more dramatically than when I agreed with Him to start forgiving. It is not about feeling–but it is about being willing. Forgiveness is power. It takes divine power to forgive. Here was another lesson of faith for me to learn. First you will it, and then you feel it. One isn’t based on the other. For some people I had willed it and forgave by faith long before I finally felt released from that person. I don’t think anything demands more perseverance than giving God the solitary right to vengeance. It is difficult to let go of our “right” to feel justified in our anger.
A new way of looking at it for me was this: Unforgiveness against people who hurt me only strengthened the tie of my bondage to them. My sense of entitlement to nurture unforgiveness only worked to further entangle and enmesh me with the very people I wouldn’t forgive. The people I had wanted to avoid because they have hurt me so badly were the very people I was taking with me emotionally everywhere I went. I was subject to them through my own bitterness.
I would go to degrading and shameful lengths in order to make someone hear me and hoped they would ask for forgiveness and change their ways. I only ended up digging a deeper pit. The person had been used by the enemy to hurt me and they would continue as if nothing they did caused anything to happen in my life. They quite possibly despised me for my weakness. In the case of incest I was viewed within the family as weak and a traitor because I didn’t keep their secret and I forced them to look at their abuse through my confrontation. They sought to make the crime my fault and my responsibility. Forgiving them released me from them. They are in God’s hands now.
Forgive like Christ forgave when He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Many times people don’t have a clue of the pain they have caused. They don’t have any idea of how much they have hurt me and even if I explained in great detail they probably still wouldn’t get it. There is no way we can ever make the other person really know the depth of our pain. Trying to make them see only makes our pain worse. I had to forgive even their ignorance. Otherwise I would still carry that person around with me.
To forgive someone does not mean that you are saying that what they did to you is okay, quite the contrary. Unless there is true repentance on their part they remain the same person. You are simply releasing them to God to free yourself from carrying them anymore. Therefore, forgiving those who have hurt me didn’t mean I had to associate with them anymore. Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified Him but when He rose from the dead and before He ascended He only spent time with His disciples because He knew his abusers hearts had not changed. He didn’t expose himself to the abusers. We are to still protect ourselves from those we know will continue to hurt us, while at the same time forgiving them and letting them go.
There is no formula for prayer and release. It is a simple act of letting go. How freeing is that? Sometimes we make things of God so difficult when it is really very easy. We want to work and feel worthy. But Jesus had paid it all. We just need to walk in it. What a gift He gave us!
Coming next: Chapter Nineteen: My Pathway to Freedom