Thursday, March 18, 2010Posted by Elizabeth Ludwig at 8:00 AM
“Becky, you must forgive.”
If someone had told me that I needed to jump off a cliff or take up bungee jumping, I couldn’t have been more stunned. I stammered out, “But…..I think….I have…”
There was a long pause, and then the speaker said, “No, I don’t think you have. I can see fear written all over your face. If you want to be set free from fear, you must forgive.”
I swallowed, trying to choke back tears. Then I whispered, “How? How do I do that?”
Another long pause. Then, “Begin by going back to every memory you have of being abused. As you revisit each incident, tell God you are willing to forgive.”
I bit my lip and tears streamed down my face. My throat closed and my stomach felt nauseated. “You don’t know what you are asking me. I have already visited those memories. I cannot go back. Is there another way?”
For the past year the Holy Spirit had been prompting me to tell a particular Christian leader about the sexual abuse I had experienced growing up. I figured it must be my imagination, because I had never met this person, but the promptings continued. Then one Sunday my husband and I visited another church in town. Imagine my shock when we entered the sanctuary and this man was the guest speaker! Sure enough throughout the service the Holy Spirit nudged me to talk with him and since I could no longer deny the promptings, I silently told the Holy Spirit I would obey. After I told this Christian leader my story, he invited both Steve and me to have coffee with him, and that’s when he challenged me to forgive the person who had abused me as a child.
The next morning, after my family had left the house, I lay facedown on my bedroom floor and told the Lord that I wanted to forgive but that I didn’t know how. I began to pray, Holy Spirit, I am petrified of revisiting those horrible moments, but if You will lead me, I will follow You even there.
The Holy Spirit was more than willing. It was as if He led me down a long, dark corridor, opening door after door. Behind each door I saw a little girl being sexually abused. She tried to scream for help, but no wounds came out of her mouth. As I watched sad scene, I felt angry, sad, afraid, powerless, confused….and a host of other emotions.
Each time I watched another episode of abuse, the Holy Spirit whispered, “Becky, will you dare to give me your hurt? Your pain? Your anger and your fear? Will you forgive?”
Between broken sobs, I whispered, “yes.” When I finished four hours later, I felt exhausted but also free form fear and anger.
That day was the beginning of my journey to forgive the one who had abused me. Yes, it was only the beginning. For years I had resisted forgiving the person who had done such evil toward me, yet I knew that if I wanted to move ahead emotionally and spiritually, I had to take this step. Forgiving my abuser has not been simple, nor easy. Indeed, it has been gut-wrenching. Sometimes I feel I have completed the journey and then the Holy Spirit reveals another layer of anger or resentment tied to the abuse. Once again, I must affirm my decision to forgive.
Adopted from Rewriting Your Emotional Script Becky Harling (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2008), 161-162
Want more? Becky is giving away a copy of her book Rewriting Your Emotional Script. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!