I am a survivor of sexual, mental, emotional, and even spiritual abuse. These abuses haunted me throughout my childhood, into my adult years, my marriage, becoming a mom, and seemingly living a pretty decent life as a Christian. It was one of those things that tainted my mind often, and I battled with the memories and ugly thoughts. Truth is, I still fight them, but it isn’t as a victim, but as a survivor. I have access through Christ to defeat and cast those thoughts out and lean upon Christ for strength and power. Sometimes, even while thriving, you are thrown a curve ball that can knock you off your square.
One evening while checking my email, I received a message. Not unusual, but I didn’t recognize the name. But when I opened it, I saw their picture. My heart sank, and I began to feel like a kid again. It has been years sense I’d seen this person. But their face brought back memories. Not all bad, but most were. Now they want to be my friend? But I had never spoken to them about how they affected my life, my journey. I had never acknowledged the pain. I had prayed about it, gone through counseling, writing fake letters to them about it. Here I was as a young adult, wife, and mother, living life and doing well. Yet faced with the reality that I was staring into the face of someone who at one point I cared about and loved, but eventually grew to hate because of the baggage they placed on me. I had waited for this moment, and yet I froze and couldn’t move. I ignored it at first for a few days, but it was always there, staring at me.
Finally, I spoke to my husband, and explained to him how I was feeling. He suggested that perhaps this was an opportunity for me to face that wound and have closure. He prayed with me about it, and I decided I would do it. I would confront a hurt I had carried for so long. I opened their request and sent a private message. I loved writing, and had written this letter so many times, but this time it was real. I needed to be sure that I expressed exactly how I felt. It felt like a weight was lifting. I was speaking to a person who hurt me, and I wasn’t afraid any more to speak up.
I sent the message and off it went. I waited, and waited for a reply, but it didn’t come. I figured it was pretty heavy, so perhaps they aren’t ready, but when they do I am sure to get a “I’m so sorry, PLEASE forgive me….”. As it would turn out, their reply was nothing as I had imagined. When it popped up in my inbox, I readied myself. But, when I read it, it simply said, “I don’t remember doing any of that to you. Sorry if you felt like I hurt you. You must have the wrong person. I loved you. Satan is always trying to attack me. I wish you the best.” That was a portion of their response. It pretty much invalidated my experience, and I was crushed. I carried the memories for years and knew exactly who did what, and how dare they get to walk around with not even a memory! I was so upset, that it stuck with me for days. But finally my husband sat down with me and shared this stunning truth that changed me:
“This in fact wasn’t a loss for me, but a WIN. It wasn’t invalidation, but confirmation of something that I needed to accept years ago. I needed to accept that not everyone will validate your experience, accept it, or confirm it. Not everyone is at a place to take responsibility for their actions, and give you the words of affirmation you need to move on. This was in fact a stage I needed to have at that point and make a choice to be FREE, and let God HEAL those wounds so I can finally let the baggage go.” He was right! I may not have had a choice back then, but I do have a choice now. This was my chance and my choice to HEAL. That email encounter changed me forever and opened me up to be someone whom I had not thought I could be. A whole and healthy woman. Someone who God was going to use to help others experience the same Freedom through Him.
I chose to forgive them, the person who had hurt me. I chose to leave them in God’s hands. What if they had changed their life, and in fact couldn’t remember? Perhaps that was a blessing from God on their behalf. Either way, I knew that I no longer had to carry that weight on me anymore. My God keeps His promises:
“If we confess (speak the truth of) our sins (the ones we have done, and those done to us), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (and heal us from those committed against us) and to cleanse (free) us for ALL unrighteousness”. – 1 John 1:9
“Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden (abused, broken, guilty, ashamed) and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (peace, freedom, healing) upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your soul (from all of your pain, abuse, scars, and shame). – Matthew 11:28-29