Hi Grace, I am an MK from Panama, Spain and Ecuador. My husband and I have 6 children and currently planting an inner city church in Ohio. I have recently been given your book and can’t wait to read it. I plan on loaning it to a woman I am working with who is struggling with forgiving her abusers. She is at the place where she can hardly breathe it is so overwhelming. I have a few questions because it is urgent and don’t have time to read your book and then help her. Did you go through counseling to get through your trauma? I am wanting to recommend counseling for my friend, but at the same time finding it extremely difficult to find truly Biblical counselors, so I am wondering about just simply relying on the Holy Spirit to do the work as I listen to her, to HIM, and have our prayer team pray for her till she is healed. I would appreciate any thoughts you have on this or a resource you could refer me to. Blessings! Ohio MK
My Dear Ohio Friend, Thank you for writing and thank you for your tender heart toward your friend. Life can be the pits, horrible beyond the telling. I am sorry for the abuse and pain your friend has endured. The best thing she has going for her is your friendship, that you are there for her, that you give her permission to cry, to vent her anger. Keep allowing her to grieve the loss and shame. If you can help her open the wounds then the healing process can start. Don’t rush the process.
I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding re forgiveness. Some people think that by forgiving they are condoning what the person did. Not so. Forgiveness is not saying that the person should not be responsible for his/her actions. It is not pretending that you were not hurt. It is not a feeling. It is not the same as reconciliation. It IS letting go of resentment/bitterness and the right to get revenge against the one who has offended or hurt you. It is rarely a one time event and the pain doesn’t necessarily disappear once you forgive someone.
I found it very helpful to read stories of others who forgave offenders. I have a book shelf full. A Grace Disguised by Gerald L. Sittser is a classic.
My situation was quite different because the man who murdered my husband was sad about what had happened and repentant, but the process is essentially the same.
In time we begin to understand that when we forgive we are the winner. When we forgive we perform a miracle. Forgiveness often sets in motion a positive chain reaction that passes on the fruits of forgiveness to others.
I don’t know if any of this is helpful. Books have been written about the topic and I am in the process of writing a Bible study on the topic. We have the beautiful stories of Joseph and the Prodigal son in Scripture that also teach us so much.
One day as I was pondering this topic I paused to read Psalm 23. Verse 3 says, that He leads me in the paths of righteousness. Forgiveness is the right path. It is a path that conforms to God’s moral will. It may be a long, steep and painful journey on that path but it is the right one. At the top of that hill we find a cross, and our suffering Savior is saying, “Father, forgive them…” Why do we take that path? “For His name’s sake.” Following in this path will bring honor to the Lord’s name.
God’s richest blessing to you as you journey with her.