January 21, 2013
I left the Women of Faith event a few years ago having actually acknowledged my own hurt, shame, etc. from being molested repeatedly as a child. I no longer just held a secret…I started to heal. I prayed; soon the prayer left just me and I focused on the abuser. (In earlier years I would periodically pray for my abuser…I prayed they died.) Now it was different. Something inside told me that while the person was wrong, I didn’t know the life they may have experienced. I did not want to be their judge. Instead I asked God to help the abuser to recognize their wrongs and accept His grace and forgiveness. Within 60 days [of that prayer] I found out my abuser suddenly had died. I got up the courage to go look into the casket and say “I forgave you.” I was almost hyperventilating as the minister gently assisted me, the last in the line, into the church. I didn’t know how to say, “I’m not here to go to the funeral” so I sat at the very back awaiting my escape. The funeral service was different than any I had been to before; it began by the minister talking about how “the church would never know what brought this hurting soul here about 60 days ago.” What?…..60 days ago??? The minister then spoke of the change this individual went through. He spoke of their sorrows and the pain caused to others….and the tears [they shed] during mass. Next he spoke of the joy they found in the Lord…and dancing. The minister indicated that many people had been brought to the Lord through this very sinner and asked them to stand up. I could not believe my eyes. There were about a dozen people that stood and gave their testimonies of change. They spoke about how they came to the Lord and found comfort in the forgiveness of Jesus and His love, things they learned of from…my abuser. God allowed me to witness, even when I wanted to run. I got to witness his love, His ability to change, His right to judge, the joy found in dancing, and the healing found in forgiveness. That Women of Faith day, as I released the secret that was crushing my soul, I received the truth in return: that nobody can change us except God.