Years ago, a young man told a story that I will never forget: When I was a child, I was sexually abused repeatedly by my uncle. Just saying these words makes my stomach ache and my ears burn. I hated him – he ruined my life and I’ve struggled with this all my life. When my father died, my uncle came to the viewing. When I looked at him, all I could see what a mangy, scared, grey and ugly dog. He didn’t speak to me, and I didn’t speak to him, but he knew that I knew what he had done all those years. I’m talking about it now because I have to. I have to let it go, let the anger and hatred go, for myself. It has to be an act of my will. I won’t forget what he did, but I have to forgive him so I can move forward with my life. I need to set myself free.
My reaction: My heart ached as I listened to this young man, and my heart aches still today. The abuse is repulsive, and I haven’t been able to forget his sadness and despair. He will never erase the offense, but forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. I was humbled to be a witness to his decision to set himself free.
Today’s Promise to consider: There are traumas that debilitate us for a long time. The body remembers intense pain, and we harbor feelings of anger, sadness, shame, and confusion. But instead of being consumed by bitterness, forgiving those who hurt us allows us to feel a sense of serenity and liberty. Today, I will turn my will toward love. I will pray for a peace that sets me free.