I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Don't Push Him to Forgive

"My Sunday school teacher told me I had to forgive," Tom said. "He said that if I didn't, God would hold my sin against me. And he quoted: 'If I regard [hold] iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me'" (Ps. 66:18 KJV). At the insistence of the teacher and a church deacon, Tom went to the front of the church, fell on his knees, and confessed that he had not been forgiving. A number of people knelt around him and prayed for him.

When Tom finished his story he looked directly at me. "Maybe I went through the right steps, but I didn't feel as if I'd forgiven my abuser." He paused and said, "In fact, I didn't want to forgive him--at least not then."

I know that script. Too many well-intentioned people want us to rush into forgiveness before we're ready. Yes, forgiving is a part of healing, but a lot of people make forgiveness and reconciliation the goal of healing. Don't urge him toward premature forgiving. To him, when someone makes him feel that he must forgive or he's not a good Christian, that's one more form of manipulation. When he's ready, he will forgive.

Just as you accept the pace at which he releases his pain, accept the pace at which he's ready to forgive his perpetrator. I believe in both, but to push, urge, or insist on it can become dangerous to his healing. When he's healed enough, he'll want to forgive. He's carried the pain a long time and it doesn't dissolve immediately. For some men, it's years before they can release the pain, and years before they can forgive.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 227.

No comments: