Ten years ago, I had a breakthrough. My breakthrough came through forgiveness. After suffering for 30 years, not wanting to be alive, just hating life and myself, I chose to move in forgiveness. At the time of this breakthrough, I was being treated through an outpatient, day program offered by Total Life Counseling in Roanoke. Simultaneously, I was being investigated for theft and embezzlement.
One of the counselors with whom I was meeting, encouraged me to make the choice to move in forgiveness toward the man that had molested me as a child. How could I possibly do this? This counselor shared scripture with me. In Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT) Jesus says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But, if you refuse to forgive others, our Father will not forgive your sins.”
The counselor shared about the significance of forgiveness throughout the bible. He reminded me of the significance of the cross. He reminded me that moving in forgiveness didn’t condone the actions of this man. It simply meant that I was no longer going to allow those actions to control me. He encouraged me to write this man a letter with the knowledge that I would never send it to him. I poured out 30 years’ worth of shame and hatred onto those pages. I remember tears streaming down my face as the ink flowed across the page. When I was finished, he invited me to read aloud to him what I had written. I felt a release from within me as I spoke those words.
I didn’t understand the significance of this experience until I awoke the next morning. There was something very different about me the next morning that was unexpected. For the first time in my remembrance, I awoke from my night’s slumber to a sense and a feeling that I did not want to be dead. Not only did I not want to be dead; truthfully, for the first time in my adult life I wanted to be alive. A very different kind of tear flowed out of my eyes and down my face at this revelation. I had not remembered a time in my life having this experience.
As for the criminal investigation, I voluntarily participated in a polygraph examination conducted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and a handwriting analysis conducted by the Virginia State Police. Several weeks after I had my breakthrough in forgiveness, I was cleared of any wrongdoing as it related to the theft and embezzlement.
I was left with lingering questions…would this breakthrough last? How soon would that sense of doom and despair return?
I am happy to report that for the last ten years, I have truly been delivered from that depression and suicidal ideation.
To the surprise of some, I did not go racing to the church following this deliverance. This freedom was experienced following participation in Christian-based counseling. However, I had a mindset of, I’ve done my time. I am tired. I don’t want to be around others. I did not pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. I still was not ready to completely surrender to God.
During the next 5½ years, I found myself challenged to move more deeply in areas of forgiveness. I discovered these things to be true about forgiveness.
• There are still consequences for our actions.
• Forgiveness is a choice.
• I can forgive even if I don’t feel like it.
• I can forgive even if the person being forgiven isn’t remorseful.
• Forgiving someone can be a process.
• I might need to move in forgiveness many, many times before achieving it.
• Forgiveness can attain a level that might include removing barriers to the other person being able to receive it.
On October 26, 2015, I was called to move in forgiveness once again. This time it was in response to a fatal accident that claimed the lives of my brother and my brother’s wife. I was moved to go to court on behalf of the driver involved in the accident. I was moved to go to court to pay any fine imposed by the judge in this case.
(to be continued…)