I want to tell you about an experience I just had – one I am still recovering from. I’ll bet that if you are reading this you will relate.
My abuser is still at large. He never spent time in jail. He has never been convicted of abuse. I tried to testify against him in court but his attorney successfully blocked my testimony from ever being heard. He is still teaching vacation bible school and he is volunteering with the local youth group. He has never acknowledged his battering (in the early years of our marriage he briefly acknowledged the violence only to minimize it, convince me to stay put, and tell me that it would never happen again) but he has never apologized for all the years of terror, control, threats, intimidation and physical battering. And did I mention that I am paying him child support and spousal support every month?
One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do is to let go of bitterness and choose to forgive my abuser even though he has never asked for forgiveness. Why? Because forgiveness is the key to my freedom. It does not excuse his behavior. Rather, it prevents my heart from becoming destroyed. Bitterness is like a poison that you mix in order to give it to the person that has hurt you, but instead of giving it away you drink it yourself. I made a choice of my will to live in freedom and that is why I have forgiven him. But sometimes he just gets to me.
I saw him at my son’s game tonight and he stared at me from across the court. He had the same smug look on his face that he always has. Each time I called the police for help and they believed him and not me, that smug look covered his face. When the court ordered me to pay support, he looked straight at me with that same smug stare. After the game I started running scenarios in my mind and within a matter of minutes I was completely defeated and down. And I had my mind on vengeance. I wanted him to pay. I wanted the police department to pay. I wanted his lawyer to pay. I wanted the church leadership who is allowing him to continue serving at the church to pay. “When God? When are you going to vindicate me? You say that you oppose the proud and give grace to the humble so when? When are you going to wipe that stupid, smug look off of his arrogant face?”
This is when darkness crept in and started whispering doubts. “Maybe he is waltzing around as free as can be because God doesn’t really care what happened to you. It seems like God would have done something about it if he really cared about you. If your God is so good, why isn’t he standing up for you?” This isn’t my first rodeo and I have heard these lies of the enemy many, many times before. I stopped folding the laundry and I sat on my bed and I just talked with my heavenly father. “Dear Heavenly Father, I need you right now. I am having a very hard time understanding your ways. You were there for everything – the shoving, the reckless driving, the gun, the baseball bat – everything. Was all that really okay with you? All the terror, all the nightmares, all the fear. Years and years of torment- you saw everything and yet it seems that he is paying absolutely no consequences for his violence against me and that makes me feel abandoned.”
By the time all the words fell off my lips I was weeping. I felt the Spirit prompting me to pray in my spirit language and I did so for a long time. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and dripping one by one onto my bed. And then I reaffirmed my decision to live a life of forgiveness. “Jesus I choose to forgive my abuser. Jesus I choose to forgive the police department. Jesus I choose to forgive the courts. Jesus I choose to forgive the church leadership.” And then I gave up the lie. “Jesus – I give you the lie that because my batterer is not experiencing any consequences for his behavior it means that his behavior is okay with you and that you don’t really care. Now tell me what the truth is.”
I continued to weep and wait for the answer and then I heard the still, small voice speak into my spirit. “There is an appointed time my daughter. There is an appointed time my darling. There is an appointed time my beloved.” I raised my hands to the sky and began to sing praises and my heaviness of heart was lifted. As I sang I heard the voice again. “There is an appointed time for him to reap what he has sown and the way it happens and when it happens is going to be for your good and my glory.” I wiped my cheeks and got back to the laundry – completely delivered from darkness and feeling victorious instead of defeated. And then I decided to write about it and I hope you will be encouraged to keep fighting. Keep fighting lies. Keep fighting darkness. Keep fighting to stay free. God Bless.
“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:1-6