I’ve been learning as I travel along the road to forgiving the men who hurt me that forgiveness truly is mandatory. Without forgiveness we carry the burden of hatred within us. Hatred and anger are very heavy burdens that keep us from ever fully healing. 

Is it easy? No, no it’s not easy to forgive somethings. I’ve been struggling in the past three years to forgive the men who beat and raped me. I’ve now honestly forgiven four of them. Honest forgiveness I give to them.

But what is honest forgiveness? 

Is it forgetting? No, I can never forget what they did to me. No to me honest forgiveness is cutting out the hatred and the burden from yourself. It’s not easy is it? I’ve found it the single hardest part of my healing process. It’s painful and it seems wrong in many ways. But trust me it’s not wrong. Forgiveness has been setting me free from pain, free from the nightmares and free from the past.

Honest forgiveness is when you can be honest with yourself. 

(First) that you personally forgive them and that means you no longer hold the hatred for them. It certainly doesn’t mean I have to like any of these men. It doesn’t mean I have to hope they go to heaven. It just means someday I will stand before my creator and he will see I do not harbor hatred for them. 

It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t serve their time. It just means I can look in the mirror and say with a smile. I don’t hate them. when you can stand before your mirror and in naked truth proclaim I don’t hate them for doing _fill in the blank_ to me. Then you’ve taken that step to honest forgiveness.

(Second) be clear just what forgiveness means. It is merely you yourself letting go and trusting that the systems of justice in this world and the next will deal with them as they deserve. My forgiveness of them doesn’t remove the wrong they did to me, it removes the wrong of hatred from me.

I still wish them to remain in jail and serve the time allotted them. I just no longer consider doing hurtful things to them or wishing those things upon them. Jail is an awful place and that is their punishment. It is true before I forgave them I considered many things including finding the leader of the biggest gang in prison and having sex with him as long as his gang would rape and beat these men. I had dreams of awful things, dark things and I can say I no longer wish that for any of them.

I wish them peace in their days now. For I know they will be judged fairly in the next life as they have been in this life.

(Third) trust. Yes trust that justice will be served. if you believe in god as I do then you know a father protects his own. God is my heavenly father and his memory is long. They will answer for what they did and I certainly wouldn’t wish to be on the receiving end of that. But what if god grants them mercy? Well then I trust they have repented and atoned to him for what they’ve done to me. 

Their hearts are not clouded to god. He will know if they are sorry, if they have suffered enough. He will judge if they have served their time in the next life.

(Last) there is no atonement to me because that is forgiven. I only wish to go on living my life now without the weight of expectation of atonement. that weight might never be lifted and honestly there is nothing they can do to truly atone to me. The things they took from me can’t be replaced, can’t be fixed and that’s something I’ve finally come to accept fully through forgiveness.

Does that mean I’d refuse a heartfelt apology? No. Does that mean it wouldn’t help somehow? I don’t know that either. What it does mean is weather I ever hear such an apology or not, I will be OK. 

That is what forgiveness does for us. it helps us be OK with who we are, free of the hatred of what was taken from us. If we ever wish to truly heal and be done with the pain, the hurt and the burden then forgiveness is mandatory. Forgiveness shows our heart and soul and it is our ticket to being forgiven ourselves. 

So I know I have to forgive the man who stole my face, the man who lead these others, the man who hurt me most. But as of now I haven’t found the strength to cast off that weight. I wished him peace in his final hours, I honestly did and still do not regret that wish. But as of now I still struggle to forgive him and drop the last of the weight from my past. I know I must forgive him, I just don’t know how. So for now I’ll just pray and struggle. 

In time perhaps…..