Forgiveness is what the cross is all about. Through it our sins are forgiven, and in gratitude and with opened eyes, we show our appreciation by forgiving others. To not do so would be to say that the blood of Jesus is good enough to wash away my sins, but not the sins of those who have sinned against me.
Forgiveness is not a difficult thing when we’re talking about someone taking the last slice of chocolate cake or cutting us off in traffic. Those things can be quickly forgiven and forgotten. But abuse of any type violates a person deeply, to the very core of who they are. It involves a different kind hurt and requires a different kind of forgiveness.
When abused, you try to protect yourself, but there is no protection. The only thing untouched perhaps is your will, maybe not your present will, but your future will. And your future will says, “I will never…” and “If I am able to get out of this alive, I will never…”
For some people it’s “I will never treat another person like this.” For others it’s “I will never forgive this person who is abusing me.” The words “I will” are all a person has sometimes. They may offer the only protection and comfort.
What I want to say is that this is about protecting yourself. It’s not about rejecting the Bible or the teachings of Jesus. He knows what happened. He knows you’ve survived the best you can. He knows you are a mess inside even if on the outside everything looks fine. He knows it takes time to recover and heal.
Here is the dilemma.
If you forgive the abuser, then it will seem like they have beaten you up again. You have surrendered the last thing that was truly your own that no one could touch: your will. The abuser has totally won.
If you don’t forgive the abuser, then your Heavenly Father won’t forgive you. You’re going to hell for unforgiven sin. You will have to spend eternity in hell with your abuser who laughs at you, abuses you even more, only there is no escape from hell.
But what if your abuser repents of all their sins and forgave everyone, and then our Heavenly Father forgives them? And what if you don’t? You’re going to hell for unforgiven sin. Your abuser has a clean record. They’re going to heaven for all eternity. You’re a loser, just like they told you that you were while they were abusing you.
Stuff like this can keep a person up all night. Seriously.
But it’s real. Just as real as the bruises and welts and marks. Just as real as the pain. Just as real as the coverup.
But even more real is Jesus. He is King. What He says goes, and what He says more and more if we will only listen is this…“My Kingdom is ruled by the Spirit, not the Letter.”
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 (KJV)
The message of the letter is “thou shalt surely die” but the message of the spirit of our Jesus is “thou shalt surely live.”
I’m concerned that we could take even the words of Jesus and turn them into words of the letter that kill rather than allowing them to be words of the spirit that give life.
For many people who have been abused or who are recovering from abuse, to say, “You must forgive your abuser” is like being killed, like having the last bit of life removed. Unless you’ve lived it and survived, it may be difficult to understand.
Truly forgiveness comes in time, but I believe it’s most likely to slip up on you, when you least expect it. You will give it up because you have slowly and gradually embraced Jesus, and He has become a greater comfort to you than unforgiveness.
Here is the only part that I’m putting in bold. If you can relate to this and are struggling with this or know someone who is…seek counseling. There are resources available that can help you. I’m just drawing and write from my limited perspective. But there are professionals that can help you. Seriously. Jesus is right there with you on the last pew. Honestly.