Tuesday night, I attended a critique group for Christian writing. The last piece shared was about forgiveness. The author had written a letter to her uncle that will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. In the letter she addressed how her life had been impacted by the molestation she suffered at her uncle’s hands. In the end, she wrote how she forgave him.
The fact is 1 in 4 girls is molested each year. The author of this letter shared this piece of information with us. Sadly, this is a horrifying number to consider. What makes this fact worse is knowing how inaccurate it might be. I say this because statistics for terrible actions like molestation are determined based on what IS REPORTED. This doesn’t take into account what goes UNREPORTED. That simple tidbit of information concerns me. If 1 in 4 doesn’t include what is unreported, then what can we expect the real numbers to look like? What does this mean for our country?
I’m not here to discuss statistics. I found this letter quite inspiring and I wanted to share some of its content with you.
She spoke of how she hadn’t recalled any of the molestation until the birth of her first child. It is not uncommon for a child to push memories of such horrific acts out of their mind. It’s a survival instinct. We deal with what we can face. Colleen Hoover does a great job of referencing this same type of ordeal in her book, Hopeless. This particular description touched me personally because I remember very little of my childhood until I turned eleven. That was the year my parents divorced and we moved to Jacksonville. I cannot say I was ever molested, just that I do not remember my childhood the same as this author. I simply understood.
She continued on into how this unnatural act impacted her self-worth, self-confidence and her relationships with men. Like a lot of women, she struggled with believing she was beautiful and loved (the right way). She even questioned if she deserved to be loved. God helped her with this and one day she looked in the rearview mirror of her car. She had on no makeup and hadn’t bothered to fix her hair. Through an ocean of tears, she was finally able to say, “I’m beautiful.” Again, I understood.
Forgiving a person for some trespass they have committed against you is hard enough; it’s ten times worse when it’s someone you know and trust. But it is necessary. In one of my favorite movies, Diary of a Mad Black Woman the mother of the main character makes a very valid point about forgiveness. (Thank you Tyler Perry). “… you’ve got to forgive him. No matter what he done, you’ve got to forgive him – not for him, but for you.” I’m sure this doesn’t make sense, but let me quote one more line and I promise it will. “When somebody hurts you they take power over you, if you don’t forgive them then they keeps the power.” Forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is freeing. We carry the weight of that trespass until we forgive the person who committed it.
Maybe you’re wondering why I shared this story. So, here’s why. I want people to know forgiveness is possible. No matter how bad someone wronged you, you still have the power to forgive them. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes, you still have the power to forgive them. If someone has hurt you in some way, whether it was yesterday, last week, last year or ten years ago or more; now is the time. Forgive them. Forgive the wrong and feel the weight lift from your shoulders. If you can’t do it alone, then let me know and I’ll happily help you through it.