Many of us have suffered unthinkable acts at the hands of people who would be considered criminals if the world at large knew what they had done.
Their activities were never exposed, or if they were, had been quickly dismissed by people who should have protected us. In some cases, their turning away allowed the perpetrator to continue to dismantle our bodies, our hearts, and our minds.
There are several such people in my history. In the quiet times of their lives, do they ever think about the damage they’ve done? Do they even give me a second thought? For all intents and purposes, I would have to say that they do not. They go on about their happy lives, unaffected by my pain.
Meanwhile, I relive their actions and words. The memory is as fresh in my mind today as if these things happened yesterday. I can tell you what they were wearing, where they were standing, what they were saying, word for word.
Ask me to tell you about any one of the many incidents, and you’ll discover my emotions rising as I relate the horrid details.
I’ve been incarcerated for a crime I did not commit.
No one arrested me. I’ve never had a court appearance, and yet I’m locked up…
My cell is small, only about six inches by four inches!
You see, my prison is my mind.
I forged my own chain; each link is comprised of another unforgiven act committed against me.
Meanwhile, they are free. Free to live, to laugh, to carry on without giving me a second thought.
What’s wrong with this picture?
What they did to me was wrong – dead wrong, but I’m the one imprisoned.
How did this happen?
It’s not fair!
For all my whining about this, what has changed?
Not a thing.
I’m in chains, while they enjoy liberty.
I do this to myself, you understand.
To forgive them feels like they will never be brought to justice; like I’m saying that what was done was no big deal.
EVERY INCIDENT WAS A VERY BIG DEAL!
My brain was scrambled, my shame mechanism broken, my sense of value destroyed, and my personality split.
That’s a big deal.
Yet, Jesus asks me to forgive those who persecute me and spitefully use me.
It boils down to this: How much do I trust God? Do I really believe that He can work all this garbage for good? Do I believe that His plans for me are for good and not for evil?
If I answer “no” to these questions, then forgiveness is impossible.
Someone has to be the judge, jury, prosecutor, and executioner. If I don’t believe that God will be this for me, then I must handle this case myself.
So long as I insist on sitting in the Judge’s seat, though, there is no room on the bench for God. His hands are tied, and He cannot act.
Meanwhile, the “perps” are enjoying life. Unaware that they are in my court, under my judgment.
The sad truth is that my condemnation has no effect on them whatsoever…zip, zilch, nada!
When I’ve finished their “hearing,” no one is going to arrest them and lock them up. There will be no execution, no matter how many times I try their case and condemn them to death.
I think the part that ticked me off the most is the fact that He loves my perpetrator, too – is “not willing that any should perish, but that all – even the jerks in my life – should come to repentance.”
This process will twist your head into a knot!
In the end, I have one of two choices:
I can forgive them, pray for them, and ask Jesus to give me His mind for them, His love for them (which doesn’t mean I have to let them anywhere near me again if they are not safe, by the way), and go free.
Or I can continue to replay their heinous acts – which means dozens, or even hundreds of times I commit against myself mentally what they did to me once. (They raped me once, I’ve “raped” myself hundreds of times. Why would I choose to do this to myself?)
I can refuse to forgive them until they “pay” for what they did. (How can they go back in time and undo what was done? They can’t. They can’t give back what they stole. It can never be repayed by them.)
…And I can remain in my self-made prison, in bondage…
…for a crime I did not commit.