Well I first must start by thanking Nicole Haye the web marketing manager at my publishing company HCI for getting this new blog up and running. I really appreciate it!
On to the topic of this post. What does forgiveness mean to you? If you have read my new book Living For Today then you know how much the decision to forgive has impacted my life. One of the biggest themes in my second book is on the topic of forgiveness. The book would not exist without it and I sure would not be Living For Today without forgiveness in my life. I do not want people getting the wrong idea and I hope I make myself clear in my new book on how I got to that peaceful place in my life. Just because I choose to forgive does not make the actions of those who abused me in my past acceptable nor does it let them off the hook for their actions. It also does not mean I just forget about it. Forgiveness was a choice that led me to Live For Today.
Let me give you a visual I am standing on a trail there are two options I can go left or I can go right. In my life I have done both. For years I was stuck down one of those trails in darkness, anger, pain, suffering, sad, and depressed. That path led me to self-injury, suicide attempt, an eating disorder that could of killed me, and kept me stuck for years. This was the result of sexual abuse I did not want to talk about, I was too ashamed to share the details of, and even after going public with my first book Stolen Innocence I thought I found my way out of this trail of darkness. I was flying across the country speaking before thousands of people and sharing my message of breaking your silence and yet I was still holding on to silence. Silence I was continuing to silence by starving myself. It just prolonged my healing by not dealing with it. Why would I continue to stay silent after becoming a author, advocate, and outspoke speaker on sexual abuse. I did not want to allow those memories to flood me because I knew the pain it would bring, and anger it would spark inside me, and the shame of why the 6. 7. 8 yr. old I once was put myself in dangers reach. I did not want people to judge me for telling people to speak out yet still keeping one chapter silent. I did not want the parents I have tried to protect from being hurt to feel they failed me by not seeing the red flags. They did see the red flags they just always had something else to blame it on. (Parents separated when I was 6, I had medical problems with my eyes from age 10-14) both significant events that could example the behavior of a little girl acting out in anger, and a depressed 12 yr. old. I can say my vision is great now after being completely blind at age 13 in one eye and having 5 operations in my childhood to fix it and my parents marriage was saved and in the past 5 years I have seen them the happiest I have ever seen them. It is like they have been on a 5 year honeymoon and they never went on a honeymoon when they got married but they made up for that on a trip to Cabo, Mexico 2 years ago.
So as I traveled down this trail I found myself going in circles for years of anger, pain, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. The abuse had ended but the emotional toll would continue for years as I was haunted and angry because I did not choose this for my life. Looking back on those years I realize how Satan continued to taunt me and the same evil grin I can still remember on m cousin’s face and a grown man’s face is the same evil grin I can imagine on Satan’s face as he watched me suffer. Something I believe Satan was taking pleasure in. This trail I was down for so many years was dark. Dark as I picture Hell. I drifted in and out with my relationship with God wondering, waiting, and questioning if he was really there. Dark thoughts filled my head….thoughts of how I could end my life. Wishing he would save me from the evil that haunted me. I wasted so many years of my life on this trail. In a sense continuing to allow the evil men who abused me to continue to have a grip of my life in their hands long after I was out of their reach.
Then it happened. It was as if after going in circles in darkness suddenly a trail was in front of me but this one was not dark. It had rays of sunlight shinning through which pulled me to turn in that direction. A trail that would come with a roller coaster of emotions. God embracing my life and feeling him lifting me up. Realizing he had not left my side even when I could not feel him. Realizing he was waiting for me to recognize he was there and to hear the direction he was calling me in. Calling me out of suffering by following my heart. A heart that was being pulled on to forgive the evil men in my life. I tried ignoring it because I was angry and I felt that was wrong and they did not deserve to be forgiven. However God kept placing the word forgiveness in my heart, mind, and in my face. As I describe in both my first book Stolen Innocence & second book Living For Today Forgiveness released me from the anger, darkness, and the taunting memories. Forgiveness led me to stop being stuck in the muck of a past filled with evil and to a place of beauty, peace, grace, and happiness. I was suddenly no longer following the path of destruction and darkness but hope and peace.
Forgiveness fills my heart towards two evil individuals to show the evil inside them I have risen above. Empathy to put myself in their shoes and the sadness I feel for the sickness these two men have been led to. I cannot even begin to understand what it would be like to wake up every morning and look in the mirror as my cousin or a man I call Richard in my 2nd book. To even be able to function knowing the harm, evil, and pain they have acted on and caused. I have often tried to wonder do they just function in denial, are they still being pulled by Satan tempted to hurt again, or are they suffering by their own actions and consumed with guilt.
I have my feelings I express about both of them in my 2nd book and what they might be feeling today. One man taking responsibility for his actions and asking for forgiveness and another hiding in the dark. In my opinion I believe my cousin Brian is Living For Today and hates the person he once was. As for Richard I believe he is living in a dark world of Hell who won’t take any responsibility for his actions. A man who I honestly believe is headed straight for Hell after his time on Earth. If Richard were to take responsibility and accountability for his actions I believe he can still be saved by God. I believe that would turn him away from Satan’s grip on his life. While both these men took so much from me as a child, caused me so much heartache and pain…..I forgive them because I will not allow their evil to keep me from Living For Today. I will not allow my heart to be pulled to a place of anger and hate towards them because it keeps me stuck in the past. Instead I allow my heart to pray for their souls.I know it is hard to understand how I can say the two people I pray for more then anyone on this earth is the two men who caused me the most pain in my life. However I have seen the evil in both their eyes and believe me you would not want to see it. It is evil I do not want anyone else to ever see in this life. By asking God to protect them, guard them from Satan taunting them to act on evil again it makes every prayer worth it. I will do anything in my power to keep anyone from ever seeing the evil I saw in both these individuals. I believe prayer is powerful and I do not believe God placed forgiveness on my heart towards men that abused me so I would forgive and forget. It does not work that way. You will only ever understand what I am talking about if you ever get to that place. A place of rising above evil, finding God all over again and listening to him, and finding the anger and hatred in your heart lifted.
The trail I am on right now has led me to forgiveness, God’s Grace, Living For Today, and finally able to express one emotion I have always been numb of and that was allowing myself to cry. Crying used to represent this feeling of shame because of what I was told when I was young. I never imagined the release crying would give me until I did it. Crying over a child’s innocence that died, crying over the fact that I can cry and don’t have a man telling me to stop or that I am a baby, I guess the best part of crying is knowing I conquered the evil I saw behind closed doors. I can close my eyes in this moment and remember the evil I saw in a cousin and grown man and the first thing that comes to my mind now each time I go there is not anger or hate but crying. Crying because I gave that child a voice and crying because I got to a place that once seemed unimaginable…..Forgiveness!