First, I will start by simply mentioning that this is part two of a two part blog post, centering around rape – and even forgiveness that is possible. I recognize that this is an incredibly sensitive topic, and you may not feel comfortable reading further. No harm in this.
To everyone reading these words, know this – forgiveness is possible after something as horrible as rape. However, before I go any further, I want you to know that just because I was able to come to a point (years later) that I was able to forgive – I do not expect you to be in that same place — and that’s okay. My prayer for you is that you find peace, whatever you are. If you’re tormented, having nightmares, thinking about ending your life to escape the pain – know that you aren’t alone. However, PLEASE DON’T! Your life matters, and what was done to you does NOT define who you are. Or may have been able to sculpt parts of your life – but it doesn’t have to maintain that hold on your heart.
Recently, I was listening to a message from a pastor (Craig Groeschel – sorry, Craig, if I butchered your name) of a church I’ve never been to. It was a message online. This topic was about forgiveness. He had a little or graph and talked about when we forgive people – it’s not for their sake, it’s for ours. The age old saying that mentions “when you forgive a person, the prisoner it sets free is you” rings so true. In this message, Craig also mentioned taking forgiveness a step further and pardoning people. To recognize that they don’t deserve our forgiveness, and they can’t realistically repay the things they’ve stolen. That wasn’t all there was to the message – but that was the main part(s) that stuck out and grabbed my heart.
Later that evening, I continued the thought process a lot. The very next day, I made the conscious decision to write this. A crazy thing happened. I actually also began to pray for these people – that, somehow they’d come to know Him.
Did I send these letters? Nope. Not a chance. Not yet. Plus, I don’t actually have an address to physically send TO anyway. All said, these were written for me. To allow my heart peace. To give my heart freedom.
This is what I had to say:
I’d like to bring up the inappropriate sexual contact. Okay, sugar coating this isn’t going to get us anywhere. You went from inappropriate touches, and advanced to sexual assault, attempted rape and rape. Sure, over time. It was wrong in every way. You stole things incapable of being replaced. You physically hurt me. You broke my heart. You took innocence. As much as you do not deserve it, I am choosing forgiveness. That’s the thing. You DON’T deserve it. But, I didn’t deserve forgiveness of my sins either, but Jesus died a death He didn’t deserve so my sins, and your sins would be washed away – as far as the east is from the west. So, I do not want fear, disgust or hatred to color my vision of you. I want to see you through eyes of grace. I mean it when I say words I never thought I’d be able to utter – you are forgiven. Though I recognize that you took far more than you could ever repay, I want you to forgive yourself for this too. You owe me nothing, and what you did will no longer have that hold on me. I choose to no longer give it power. I know you may not think you need forgiveness, or that you need to forgive yourself, but you should. You deserve joy in your life. You deserve to be loved. You need to know that you are, by virtue of being a human being, loved. Even when/if you’re seemingly undeserving. Walk in freedom today moving forward. I am. Be free to love and be loved. Understand that grace is a free gift, and I want you to have it. Please take care of yourself. Please love and cherish your family. Be a father. Know how much your words have power. Ask yourself if you want your child to only see pain and anger – or if you want him to know love. It’s a choice. It’s a decision. He’ll grow up before you know it. I don’t have to tell you that none of us are promised tomorrow. Love today. Start with yourself.
Okay, and then we have you. You hurt me. You learned from him how to do it. How to essentially hurt me. You learned how to rob my innocence. You knew how to cause fear and self hatred in that way. You should have been able to be trusted. You violated all levels of trust. To feel what you forced me to feel isn’t right. With what you, did you could never repay me. It isn’t realistic to think there is or ever can be justification for sexual trauma or rape. In any form. You took things from me that can never be returned. I am tired of holding onto the hatred, hurt and anger. It’s not fair, and I’m done. I don’t allow this to maintain it’s grasp on my heart. Even though you did terrible wrongs, more than once, I want you to hear the words “you are forgiven” and know that they are yours. Let them free you, as they are freeing me. No, I am not the same person I once was, but I am stronger now. With God’s help, I am able to see you through eyes of grace. Grace, backed with love. You are also loved. I want you to know that God loves you, and wants you to come to Him. Just as you are. Allow your past to remain there. Allow forgiveness to permeate your heart. You don’t deserve it, but not one of us do. I truly hope you cry out to Him and allow Him to give you the same grace, love and hope. You are God’s creation, and thus beautiful. Smile. Know that you are forgiven. I am free of the hold this had on me. I want you to be too.
This was difficult to write in so many ways. However, the freedom I’ve found and the grace and love I truly feel in this moment is like nothing else I can put into words. I genuinely feel the call to prayer for these individuals. I want them to know the freely given grace and love that I know. Though they once caused unbearable pain – I have decided today to not allow that to maintain any form of control in my heart. They are forgiven. Not only forgiven, they are pardoned. They are free. I am free. Blessed by grace, covered with love and filled with hope.