I had a flashback yesterday that stopped me in my tracks. If you’ve been through any sort of trauma, you know what I’m talking about. You’re going about your daily life without any inclination that your brain is about to put at the forefront something you’d rather just forget. I’m not ready to go into lots of details about my childhood here just yet but I will tell you this involved my caretaker (NOT one of my parents) undressing me and forcing me to lie down in the snow until she let me back in the house. I vividly remember the snowflakes falling on me and begging to be let back in where it was warm.
As this memory raced through my brain, my heart broke, again, and I just sobbed. When the emotions take over like that, I’ve learned that I need privacy, I need to be away from the children (because I don’t want to scare them), and I have to work through what I’m feeling. I know myself well enough that a good walk with some praise music usually helps because I need reminders right then and there of Who God is, how much He loves me, that He loves justice, and that He hasn’t forgotten me or my pain. The Bible speaks of how He keeps records of our hurts and will wipe aways ALL tears (see pic above). HE CARES, y’all!
Forgiveness for me is like an onion. I believe God designed me this way so, as He peels back the layers, I can have deeper comfort and healing. If I had to absorb all of the emotions at once, I think I’d explode. I see His graciousness in how He’s designed me to respond to my trauma. (Yes I’ve worked with a counselor to help me learn how to cope — and you should, too, if you’ve been through any sort of trauma).
John Piper once said, “Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” This has brought me GREAT comfort. It is okay for me to weep and cry out to God for comfort when I remember that I wasn’t treated the way a child should be treated in the care of an adult. I have deep hurts I’ll carry until I get to Heaven. I have learned, though, that ALL of us carry deep hurts because we are parented by non-perfect people. Because of sin in this world, we all have the need to forgive hurtful things. But we all have a choice. We can let bitterness take root (and trust me, y’all, it has the power to destroy your life) or we can move forward in forgiveness. But, what does that look like when forgiveness just seems too hard…too big….too much work….too easy for the person who inflicted hurts.
That’s when Jesus takes over. There is absolutely zero good inside of me apart from Christ. There is nothing I can do apart from Him and that includes forgiving someone who has hurt me….let alone deep, awful hurts. I must rely on His power in order to forgive and move forward. Because I have trusted Jesus as my Savior, I have His Holy Spirit who gives me the power to forgive. I CAN NOT do it on my own. Forgiveness means seeing the other person as a hurting human being in need of Jesus….just as much as I am. Forgiveness means choosing to move on with my current life and not DWELL on past hurts. Yes feel them. Yes mourn for the work you must do now in forgiving. Yes be angry that justice hasn’t happened yet. But don’t get stuck there. Getting stuck in bitterness scares me more than the actual hurts. I have to rely on the promises of Jesus that those who mourn will be comforted! I have to put the promise of comfort and justice in His hands.
So, as we move forward in life knowing hurts will be inflicted, let us remember that Jesus died for EVERYBODY. He carried the shame of every sin so that we don’t have to. If you haven’t already let Him take control of your life, I beg you to do so. He can take away the burdens you carry, He will wipe away the shame of past hurts and He can give you the power to forgive those that hurt you. He is the ONLY reason I’m able to be a healthy wife and mother today. Without Him, I’m confident I’d either be inflicting those same wounds or medicating my hurts in some unhealthy way. And feel free to email me and ask me anything. I’m praying for you as we walk this road of forgiveness together!
***Forgiveness is not always a replacement for justice when situations allow for the abuser/assailant to be prosecuted. I fully support your decision in doing so!***