There have been three major aspects to forgiveness in my life. The first is toward my step-father. He was the only abuser I was bitter toward. I suspect that it was more because of the way my family changed than because of what he did to me.
I hated him so intensly that I even thought about ways to kill him. My life was controlled by my focus on him. When I was about thirteen I felt like the Lord was saying that I needed to to forgive. I didn't want to forgive him though -- then. When I went away to boarding school I started to want to forgive. It was ten years of daily struggle before I was finally able to forgive. I remember reading an explination from Corrie ten Boom. She said that it is like a large bell in a bell tower. When it is rung hard it does not stop ringing right away. That makes sense but it sure did take my bell a long time to stop ringing. Did it take so long because I refused to forgive when God asked me to? I don't know but here are my struggles and victory with bitterness.
Over time my bitterness subsided but it never really left until God put it into my heart. It was the principle of releasing him. I had to stop seeking revenge and desiring to see him punished. I made a conscious choice to accept the consequences of his sin in my life. I had to accept the loss of my childhood and innocence, the betrayal, and the venarial disease. When I accepted all those things without looking for someone to blame, my bitterness fell away in a moment. I had a new freedom! Don't get me wrong, it couldn't have happened till the right time, till the Lord had prepared my heart. I have been learning that God's process of healing is like peeling the skin off an onion. He peels a little off and then lets me rest a while.
Then I had to stop blaming God.. I suppose it was not so much a matter of forgiving Him as realizing that first of all He is good, secondly, that He loves me, and that everything He does is for my good and His glory. These things did not come quickly. It was a long processes for God to put these things in my heart. I read a book that radically changed my perception of God. It is called Trusting God: even when life hurts. by Jerry Bridges. Another book along the same lines is Crucified By Cristians. I learned to see what happened to me as God's permitting the consequences of sin.
It has also taken a long time to accept God's forgiveness of myself. The enemy has told me many lies that have warped my thinking. I bought into the lie that my lot in life was to be used by men. That all men were perverted and given a chance would abuse me. I remember one day when I was seven. My pastor's wife was babysitting me. The pastor was holding me on his lap, reading a book to me. His wife went off to sew in the back of the house. I remember sitting there waiting for him to abuse me. After he finished reading to me he put me down and went off to do something else. I was shocked, no one would have known. He had the perfect opportunity to hurt me but he didn't. Some mentality for a seven year old kid. Praise the Lord that there are some pure men left.
The Lord showed me that He litteraly wanted to be my father. Psalm 27:10 says, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." He wanted to do everything that a father is suppose to do for me. That night as I was going to sleep I was picturing myself in my Heavenly Father's arms. All of a sudden I panicked. I thought, I can't cuddle up to Him. It might make him abuse me. The Lord reassured me that our relationship is different. That I can trust Him and He will never think wrong thoughts about me. It has taken a while but now I can rest in my relationship with him.
I felt like I need to be useful to get acceptance. I could never seem to do things quite right though. I felt like I could never be good enough to please God. It has only been in the past few months that I have gotten freedom from this lie. Now I have an increadable new understanding of my relationship with God. Click on the starfish to the right to read about what God taught me.