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On Forgiveness

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

Another abuse survivor wrote, “I have some people . . . from my past who I need to forgive. I have never been ready to and really have never wanted to.”

I struggled with forgiveness as well. Suppressed rage filled me a good part of my adult life. Initially, I believed it was aimed at my father. At times, I also sensed anger toward God. Then I suspected I was angry at my young self for letting it happen.

Later, I realized I was angry at me—an adult who wasn’t handling life well. I made excuses, blamed others for my circumstances, and blamed the abuse for all my mistakes and bad choices. I hated myself for not accepting responsibility.

I’ve learned that what happens to me isn’t as important as how I deal with it. God is developing character in me, and trials and hardship don’t build character; they reveal it. The Holy Spirit uses them to refine me, which usually involves pain. Apparently, I needed a lot of refining.

Understanding that has helped me to forgive. I started with myself, then the boy who was, and finally the father who was never a dad. It was a long and tortuous road but one I needed to travel.

Now, when things get ugly and I get frustrated, I step back and remind myself of why I’m here. Because I’ve been broken and angry, I can reach out to others who are broken and angry. When I recognize myself in others, God works in us both. It’s one of the ways God reveals Himself to me. His love for me, in spite of all that I am and have been, helps mitigate my anger and raises what I call my “stupidity threshold” back to a safe level.

That love followed me through all my flailing and attempts at finding myself. More than anything, it’s enabled me to finally forgive, and has released me from the ghost of my father’s touch. I’m free and at peace (as much as one can be these days) because I’m able to see that love as I look back through those years. It’s a journey, not a destination, and I have always had a faithful—though often unappreciated— companion with me.

Just my thoughts.

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