“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Louis B. Smedes
Ever been hurt? Betrayed? Let down? We all have in one way or another. But to forgive the person is another thing completely. I would like to share a situation of forgiveness that happened to me recently. It’s not easy to write, and it’s a little long. Yet, the outcome is good.
I am well aware that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that has helped to cause my depression. However, when I was a teenager, I had some horrible experiences. I was hurt sexually. At the time, I blamed myself. I was too drunk, he (they) were too drunk, I asked for it, etc. It is still hard to write this now. Also, “everyone” was doing it…drinking, partying, drugs, etc. Every weekend, the same. However, what I didn’t realize was how those moments, that at the time seemed “fun”, were going to stay with me so deeply. The incidents from many years ago have affected my whole life, as well as my marriage. But I have been given another huge gift…the gift of forgiveness.
About 4 years ago, we had a church service where we were asked to write down peoples’ names that had hurt us in the past. Then we were to go to the front and place this piece of paper on a cross. That day, I wrote a few names down. I thought I had forgiven them. I guess I had forgiven to the best of my ability at that time.
Shortly after, an old friend from high school asked to be friends on Facebook. As he was one of the men that had hurt me, it took a lot of thought and prayer. At the time I didn’t know why, but I accepted his friend request. I saw that he had a lovely family, including beautiful daughters. My bitterness was renewed. How dare he live a good life? And daughters? Ugh.
Then I started noticing that he was posting scripture on his status. I felt a nudging to email him, but I was too scared. Then he posted about Jesus being the only comfort in this world and to read our bibles. I was blown away. I listened to the nudging and I emailed him. I asked him if he was a Christian. He responded almost immediately, stating not only had he repented of his sins, he was a Christian and he was studying to become a PASTOR! I decided I had nothing to lose and I emailed him my journey of becoming a Christ Follower, my struggle with depression and how his actions over 25 years ago played a role in it. His reply?
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I was a burden to you all those years.”
Wow! Never in a million years would I have even thought I would receive an “I’m sorry” 25 years later!! Forgiveness is truly powerful.
Also, through email conversations, we realized that he didn’t even know that his actions had caused so much pain in my life. After all, at the time “everyone was doing it.” He thanked me for sharing with him, as he would never have known.
And yes, his was one of the names I stuck to the cross years ago.
By forgiving him of the actions he actually wasn’t even aware of, I have released myself from anger, bitterness and resentment. Now that is a gift!
It also makes me think of the people in my life that I may have hurt unknowingly. We all have, I’m sure. I’m saddened by that, but just hope they will find it in their hearts to forgive me.
Have you experienced the freedom and gift of forgiveness? Have you ever received forgiveness for something you did?
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Note: This blog was written with permission.
Photo Credit: Christy Stover