I’m writing to you because I want you to know you’re not alone. I wish life could be easier. I wish I could take on the pain you feel. I wish we could live in a world of peace. I wish getting hurt was a nonexistent feeling. But that’s not the way the world runs. People get hurt.
I wish you would just understand the concept of forgiveness. It physically breaks my heart when I see the bitterness you store inside yourself because you refuse to forgive. Don’t you realize the moment you forgive is the moment you’re set free? Don’t you see that the only person you’re hurting is yourself?
No, you don’t see it. Your hurt blinds you. I know this because I was you once.
I was molested as a young girl by people I trusted. The first time it happened, I just thought it was a normal thing that people go through. Once it happened again, I didn’t want it to be a normal occurrence anymore. By the age of 10 I suffered with severe depression. I was suicidal for many years, always thinking that death would bring me peace. I cut myself for a few years because I felt like it was the only way to release the pain inside of me. But the worst part about all of it was that no one even knew. I bought into the lie that I was the only one going through what I went through.
My mouth was physically shut from opening up about my past. I thought that keeping everything locked inside and never bringing it up would convince me it never actually happened. But the problem with thinking that way was if I kept it locked inside, I’d never experience freedom. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, those things did happen to me. Nothing was going to blot that out of my memory. The only way to move on from the trauma I faced was by forgiving my attackers.
I held so much unforgiveness in my heart that it turned to anger and bitterness. I felt like I had a right to be unforgiving. I felt like by forgiving them I’d be doing them a favor. So instead, I was going to wall myself off from ever being hurt again. I hid in a box with my hurts. What I didn’t know was my hurts were toxic and they were eating through me like venom from a snake.
I was so guarded that I didn’t allow anyone to get close to me. I pushed away people that genuinely wanted to know me on a deeper level. I hurt people because I was hurting.
Growing up in a Christian environment, I often heard people speak of forgiveness. Naturally, I would tune them out because I thought what was done to me was unforgiveable. I never understood how people that opened up about being abused could forgive their abusers. Why in the world would they want to forgive them?
It took a long time for me to fully understand the whole concept of forgiveness. What did it mean when people said forgiveness set ME free, not my attackers? What was the problem anyways with not forgiving them? I remember waking up every day reminded of what was done to me. The images in my head wouldn’t go away. The voices I heard tormented me day and night. I held the hurtful memories so close to me that they became my only companion. That’s the problem with not forgiving. When I chose not to forgive, I was choosing to let what happen to me define me. I was choosing to let the memories control every choice I made and every thought I thought. When I made a decision to forgive them, those memories quit running my life. I quit waking up every day wishing to not be alive anymore. I quit wishing I lived a different life. I quit being held prisoner to the memories. I quit allowing what happened to me be what defined me. I was finally free.
Forgiveness doesn’t give the other person the upper hand. Forgiveness allows you to live your life again. So please, let go of what happened to you. Quit trying to control the past. Forgive your attacker so you can experience peace, joy, and freedom.
Statistics prove that 1 in 5 women have experienced some form of abuse, most likely from family members. According to RAINN, every two minutes an American is being sexually assaulted. About 2/3 of victims know their attacker. Half of all girls between the ages of 10 and 25 admit their first sexual experience was forced.
You’re not alone.
Speak up. Speak out. Experience freedom.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
– Colossians 3:13