I asked Gary Roe to write several posts. He also shares his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.
“I thought forgiveness was releasing my enemy," someone said to me, "but when I forgave him I discovered that the captive I released was me.” I've certainly experienced that in relation to my abusers.
When I made a frightening phone call to my closest friend and told him what happened to me as a child, he was silent for a long time before he asked, “Have you been able to forgive them?” This question surprised me. I knew that my friend asked because he loved me and was deeply concerned about me.
I suddenly knew that forgiveness was about my heart. Forgiveness was about not letting my heart be ruled by the abuse and the abusers any longer. Forgiveness was about separating my person from what happened to me. Forgiveness was about letting God heal me.
I wanted healing. Forgiveness was the road to it. So I began to forgive. I had to forgive repeatedly. I had to learn to practice forgiveness. And somewhere along the way I realized that I'd been holding myself captive by not forgiving. Sometimes I even imagined that I was releasing myself when forgiving my abusers.
I'm not saying that forgiving is easy. It was far from painless for me. I once screamed into a pillow repeatedly as I tried to forgive. I found forgiveness to be like physical therapy after surgery—excruciatingly painful at first, but strengthening and healing over time.