Do you have a person in your life that you just can’t forgive? Their offense seems too great? Perhaps that person was a close friend, co-worker, sibling, or even a parent…
Today I’m sharing a guest post from a friend who has traveled down a complex and painful road of recovering from childhood sexual abuse, at the hands of a parent. She has written a wonderful memoir of her journey of healing called, Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light: A Story of Faith and Forgiveness after Child Abuse.
Meet survivor and author, Tracey Casciano…
Why is forgiveness so important?
by Tracey Casciano
When life is tough, it can sometimes feel like we are being punished. A lost job, bad relationship, death of a loved one, or financial uncertainty can make us feel hurt, lost and angry. As Christians, we know that we are supposed to follow Jesus, but during difficult times it can be hard to do so. Following Jesus takes courage, perseverance and trust.
Sometimes it’s hard to forgive someone who has really hurt you and revenge seems easier. But Jesus doesn’t leave us an option for revenge.
“He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:23-24 NLT)
For me, forgiveness took a long time. I survived a childhood of physical and emotional abuse from the two people who were supposed to love me the most. My coping mechanism was to avoid (the memories) and deny (that anything was wrong). I didn’t tell anyone for many years, because I didn’t want anyone to judge me. I had feeling of anger, shame, and guilt from my past. I struggled with the idea of forgiveness for a long time. I didn’t want to forgive my parents, because I believed that they didn’t deserve it.
One day just two years ago, I was in church and my pastor spoke about forgiveness and I felt as if he was speaking directly to me. After much praying and seeking advice from him, I knew that I needed to forgive my parents. My pastor told me that forgiveness is more than a choice, it’s a calling. I learned that by forgiving my parents, I was able to release my pain and entrust justice to God. My forgiveness didn’t excuse what they did; it allowed me to stop being the victim.
God knew that I needed to hear that message when I did. Six months after I decided to forgive my parents, my father died unexpectedly. I am humbled by my own obedience and can’t imagine the potential effects that I could’ve experienced from living with “unforgiveness” any longer.
If someone has been wronged and wants to work towards forgiveness, I would encourage them to do the following:
- Pray about it and how the act of forgiveness can be empowering.
- Understand that negative feelings occur when we are hurt and that’s normal.
- Talk to someone about what you are experiencing.
- Don’t rush. Forgiveness is a process.
- Honor the fact that you are becoming a different person by forgiving.
- Remember: Forgiveness opens the door to freedom from the hurts of our past.
(Guest Post by: Tracey Casciano, author of Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light.)
Thank you Tracey for sharing your journey of forgiveness after childhood sexual abuse. Your story is powerful, and healing to many. I encourage my friends to check out Tracey’s book. you can order it online wherever books are sold. You can also connect with Tracey and her book on her website and her blog, as well as on Twitter and Facebook!