Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I am a survivor of child abuse. My life got turned upside down when I was only thirteen years old. I went from being a pastor’s daughter, to an alcoholics daughter out of nowhere. I’ve seen things no child should ever have to witness. I’ve heard things no child’s ears should ever have to hear. I’ve been beaten. I’ve lived in fear. I’ve been without a place to call home. I’ve been emotionally and mentally abused. I’ve gone from loving a parent to hating a parent for years. I’ve gone from having open arms to having panic attacks when my abuser would come around. I’ve gone years without both parents being in my life. I’ve gone years with struggling with anger and sadness. I’ve gone years without talking to my dad and having a relationship with him. I’ve gone years wondering why my life ended up being the way it is.
For seven years, I couldn’t stand who my dad had turned in to be. For seven years, I’ve gone without a conversation with him. For seven years, I’ve had to deal with the fact that I’m his daughter and fearing all the statistics that are out there about the abused. For seven years, I’ve carried all the anger and all the hurt with me; I never let it go.
After seven years, I realized I couldn’t just say, “I forgive you” or “I forgive my dad for what he has done”. I was shown by God that I actually have to let the forgiveness in to my heart no matter how difficult it was going to be. I asked God at the altar one day to change everything about me, to show me what my root problem was with me always feeling so down, and God delivered. God stripped me down spiritually and showed me that my problem was holding on to hatred in my heart. The thing was, it was easier and made more sense to me, for me to hate my dad, but it was affecting me as a person and spiritually.
That day in the altar God spoke to me saying, “Your father has a soul and because he has a soul, you still have to love him. I love him despite the sins he has committed.”
What God spoke to me that day really smacked me right in the face and woke me up. I had to let forgiveness into my heart and realize that in order for me to truly love like Christ does, I must forgive those who have wronged me and remember that they have a soul worth winning. Even though my dad and I are still not on good terms, I know he has a soul that Christ cares about and because of that truth, I must care for his soul too. Maybe that sounds crazy to some people, but do we really want any of our loved ones going to Hell one day?
If you’ve been abused, do not hold on to the anger, to the heartache, to the bitterness. It may seem like it is the easiest thing to do at the time, but eventually it will cause you deeper pain. Going through abuse is not easy and it takes real strength to overcome it, but it is God that helps you through the process. It is God that gives you the strength and gives you a purpose to keep on fighting for the victory. There is victory through all of the pain and all of you’ve got to do is claim it. You can either let the abuse you’ve been through define you as a person and let it control your life or you can choose to let the horrible experience make you into a better person.
I chose to let the abuse that was inflicted upon me to transform me into a better person. You can choose to do the same thing.
Love and forgiveness go hand in hand. You cannot forgive without love and you cannot love without forgiveness. Forgiveness really does set you free from all the baggage and pain. Forgiveness will transform you. Let forgiveness in and continue to pray for the soul that has hurt you because that is what God would want you to do.