A Project Inspired reader recently asked how to forgive someone who has abused her. I knew immediately that I had a “divine appointment” with this reader.
I like to define “divine appointments” as an appointment that God purposely constructs so someone is in the right place at the right time to reach into the life of another. Today I’m keeping this “divine appointment” with all of you who need help healing from abuse.
My testimony: I was raped in college, on two separate occasions, by two different men. For many years I lived with fear and feelings of low self worth. I struggled with maintaining healthy relationships and often allowed people to mistreat me. My voice had been stolen and I couldn’t remember my value. And, like many of you, I couldn’t forgive those people for hurting me.
However, as my relationship with God grew, I realized that to FULLY heal, I had to give God all of my pain. I also realized that to give God ALL of that burden, I had to release the bitterness I was feeling toward those men. When I was able to do that, a miraculous thing happened: I finally was able to forgive them.
You see, forgiveness is NOT for them. Forgiveness is for YOU. The more that you hold on to the hurt, the more power it has over you.
So, for all of you girls who need to know how to forgive, I’ll first share with you how to heal. Forgiveness and healing go hand in hand. The more you heal, the more you will be able to forgive; and the more you forgive, the quicker your healing process.
Here is what helped me heal from my abuse–I hope it helps you, too:
1. Recognize that God is your ultimate healer: God can and WILL heal any part of you that is broken: mind, body, and spirit. It’s vitally important to BELIEVE that God wants you to be spiritually and emotionally healthy.
2. It’s okay to talk about it: Give yourself permission to speak. Join a support group, see a therapist, tell your story to a supportive friend. Do anything, just talk. Remember to focus on the fact that you made it through the assault because you’re a SURVIVOR!
3. Allow yourself to forgive: In order to FULLY heal, you have to forgive the person who hurt you. This may be the most difficult thing you have to do, but it’s important to your healing process. Remember, forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for YOU.
NOTE: Forgiveness does NOT mean allowing the person to get away with what he/she did! It IS okay and VERY IMPORTANT to hold that person accountable for hurting you. If someone has hurt you in the past or is hurting you now, PLEASE get help immediately!
4. Engage in positive self talk: I began the process of learning to love myself again by changing the way that I spoke about myself. I began to speak only positive things and constantly reminded myself that God loves me. This is very important. Soon you’ll begin to internalize those positive words and you’ll heal quicker.
5. Help other girls: Reach out to others. There’s nothing more rewarding than using your experience to help others with their healing.
I’ll post soon on specific ways to forgive, especially when forgiveness seems the hardest.