Anyone who has become familiar with events in my life knows that I have many different experiences that would test my ability to forgive. In this post, it is my hope to share with you some of the things that happened to me that caused me great pain.
However, this post is not about those who caused the pain, but how I was able to forgive them. My answer may surprise some people due to its simplicity, but, it is how I was able to come to terms with my negative life events, and heal layer after layer.
Because I have forgiven people, I am not going to name anyone. I am simply going to list the wrongs that I have suffered in my life.
- Physical Abuse as a child
- Sexual Abuse as a child
- Emotional Abuse as a child
- Witnessing Abuse of others
- Attempted Rape (when I was 17)
- Ridicule and Rejection by police, church members, and co-workers for attempted rape
- Taking Sexual Advantage when I was in and out of consciousness due to a car accident
- Attempted murder
- Broken Covenants
- Physical Abuse of my child
- Molestation of my child
- False Judgements
- Physical Abuse as an adult
- Sexual Abuse as an adult
- Purposeful Deception/Manipulation
- Unrighteous Dominion/Control
Through the years, I have come in contact with a lot of people who misunderstand forgiveness. Forgiveness is for me. It helps me let go of the fear, anger and bitterness, so that I can heal.
Forgiving someone does not mean that we subject ourselves to them or their issues anymore.
We do not continue to extend trust to someone who has been untrustworthy just because we forgive them.
I was able to forgive because of my faith in and love for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has said that of us it is required to forgive all men. The Bible mentions forgiving someone who has trespassed against us seventy times seven.
When you have been abused or have gone through the things that I have, it can seem crazy at first to even try to forgive someone. It is important that we recognize that forgiving someone does not mean that we justify or accept their bad behavior. That is something completely different.
The definition of forgiveness is: a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of vengeance or resentment towards someone.
One of my favorite talks on forgiveness, talks about an entire community forgiving what many would say is unforgivable. But yet, they did it so perfectly.
My path to finding forgiveness started out logical. It was a decision that I made. And it was based on the simple truth that Jesus already paid for the sins of those who had trespassed against me. I pondered upon my desire to be forgiven of my sins. And the Lord has told us if we want forgiveness, then we must forgive others. I wondered why that was.
After a lot of thought, I realized that the Savior has already paid a very high price for the sins of all mankind. If I refuse to accept his sacrifice on behalf of those who have hurt me, it is like me saying that what he did was not good enough. I am demanding more from him and others. I am denying the power of the atonement.
If I have faith in Jesus Christ, I believe that he will make all things right. This does not mean that we do not hold mankind accountable to the laws that they have broken here on earth. I believe that we need to do that, so that they have an opportunity to repent as well. Sometimes repentance comes when someone hits rock bottom.
When I accepted Christ's love for all of us, and the reality that his sacrifice did pay for all sins, I was able to forgive. After all, he forgives the 'unforgiveable' in me. Each of us are going to make mistakes. We are all going to fall short. But, we can find healing and wholeness, when we give our pain and burdens to the Lord. They are his anyway. He already bought and paid for them at a really high price. We don't need to withhold what is already his from him.
I hope that if you are struggling with forgiving someone, that you will remember what the Savior has done for you, and for those that hurt you. The atonement is for both our sins, as well as the pain that we suffer from the sins of others. Turning to him helps us to be able to focus on the love that he offered us, rather than increase our bitterness by never choosing to let those negative feelings go.