The following is a comment submitted to us in response to a recent post on forgiveness. I am posting the comment here as a stand-alone post because of its importance. [We also published it on our other blog at lightfordarktimes.com] Many, many thanks to the courageous lady who wrote and shared her story with us. We want to honor her desire that as many people as possible hear what she has to say so that they too can be wise:
It is crucial to understand this concept of forgiveness! I was molested all throughout my childhood by my stepfather. When his actions came to light, I was told by the pastor of my church that I must stop talking about what happened, I should not seek to talk to law enforcement because that would be “taking a brother to court in front of unbelievers” and forgiveness meant to allow him to be an uninterrupted part of my life.
For 27 more years I worked to get along with him, to include him in family gatherings, to allow him to be part of our lives. When my kids were little, they wanted to move next door. When I expressed my concern about them being so much closer, he took offense that I would even bring it up—that was not forgiving. So against my better judgement, I agreed. I set guidelines for my kids (without telling them why) that they could never be alone with him, that Grandma always had to be there too.
Fast forward several years, and my daughter was struggling. I had been crying out to God for wisdom to help my child. And one day she told me. Someone had done something bad to her and she just couldn’t get past it. And then she said his name. My heart broke, but I knew this time would be different.
My husband & I went to local police and filed our complaint. The detectives got to work and built an excellent case. He was arrested a couple of weeks later and is now serving a 25-40 year sentence. Because of his age, we don’t expect that he will ever get out. And I clearly understand now that forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation.
It is not loving to allow someone to get away with sin. It would have been right for me to press charges as a teenager because he needed to be caught and stopped. Other kids needed protection from him. He had not changed who he was; he had only changed his methods.
If this story can spare one child…
I must end by thanking Jesus who has kept me and helped me every step of the way and will continue to go with me to the end. I have forgiven my abuser, but I am not a part of his life. My mom divorced him and that was the right thing for her to do. A person can forgive and walk in God’s freedom but not be bound in a relationship with their enemy. It is not un-Christian to walk in reality, to realize that not every person intends good to you—not even people who played what should have been a trusted role in your life. I praise God for the truth! Thank you for your blog and the important topics you discuss!