Thursday, September 10, 2009

When We Cannot Forgive

There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still. - Corrie Ten Boom
Many years ago, when I was first starting to "deal" with my childhood and the long term effects of sexual abuse, I went to talk to a priest about my struggles to forgive my father. He told me about the true story of Corrie Ten Boom. She and her sister had been placed in a concentration camp during WWII for hiding and protecting Jews. Her sister had died in the camp.
For years Corrie Ten Boom traveled the world with a message of hope and God's love and a powerful message of forgiveness.
Then one time when she had spoken about forgiveness, she saw a man who had been one of the guards in the concentration camp. She prayed to God that He would forgive the man for her because she did not think she could forgive him. When the guard reached her, he put out his hand. She forced herself to take his hand and felt such warmth and strong love from God, she knew then that God had forgiven him for her.
So the priest told me to ask God to forgive my father for me. And so I did. And tears came to my eyes and I knew that, while I did not feel like I could forgive at that moment, that God did forgive him for me.
Over the years I have forgiven my father many times. It seems like a lifelong process for me. And when I have a hard time forgiving him, I do what Corrie Ten Boom did - I turn it over to the Lord. He is much better at this forgiveness thing than I am.


Just Be Real said...

Oh my dear one, how precious of a story. This was so touching Colleen, thank you for sharing. Blessings dear one.

rox said...

Colleen ! That is the same example the very first priest I went to about my abuse told me ! He also told me and sent me home to pray to God to please forgive my abusers . praying for them led me to have fogiveness within my own heart
It worked Colleen !
The last few days I've been mediatating and writing on my blog about loving the monster etc.
Have you been reading the daily readings Colleen !
Today He tells us exactly what you & I have wrote about !
Colleen You are on the true and right path ! He is reminding us each day in His word .
Keep on going 1
God Bless , Roxie

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Thank you for sharing this Colleen, because it is something to remember when needing to forgive anyone for anything. We feel like it is all up to us, but God promises to be with us through it all. So when it is really hard to do so, I'll remember what you wrote here. I really like this post!

Colleen said...

JBR, Glad you liked the story. very inspiring. Blessings to you.

rox, that is awesome that you heard the same story! and in my case, it was the first time I had told a priest about the abuse too. yes, i have been reading the readings everyday. how comforting they are. and thank you for your encouragement.

Heartfelt, yes it is a good story to remember. and the reminder too that God carries us through the storms of our lives. Glad you found it to be a story you would use if you need it some day! God bless!

Lisa Marie said...

Man, if that sentence isn't the truth I don't know what is.

What a wonderful story about Corrie. I will be doing some research on her!

Colleen said...

Lisa Marie, I know what you mean. I love that quote. Corrie wrote a couple of books. Very inspiring person. Blessings!

Wanda's Wings said...

This can be so difficult. I believe you are on the right track. I do not believe I am there yet. I so admire what you are doing. God bless you.

April_optimist said...

What a wise priest. It is a lifelong process. There are times when I must stop and remind myself of how much pain my abusers were in--so much that they couldn't see or care about mine. Most of the time I am in a state of forgiveness. But there are still moments when I have to stop and take a deep breath and remind myself all over again.

sarah said...

wow. when I read this I shivered. I read this too and love that quote. I am Jewish and in Israel they build a monument to the 'righteous' and Corrie Ten Boom and her family are there. If she oculd go through what she did - and forgive - I can too. Thank you so much for this post.

Colleen said...

Wanda, yes, it sure can be difficult. It takes time and healing. But you are not alone. Many of us struggle with this. Hugs.

April, yes, a wise priest for sure. What a blessing that you are in the state of forgiveness most of the time. I think I realize now that staying away from my abuser makes it easier to forgive him. Blessings.

Colleen said...

Sarah, thank you for sharing that about Corrie. I did not know, but I guess I could have guessed. What an amazing and courageous person. And a role model for us to follow. Blessings.

Patricia Singleton said...

After years of struggling unsuccessfully with forgiveness, one day I told God, "You handle this forgiveness thing. Right now I can't seem to do it." It wasn't too many years before I was finally able to forgive my dad. Like you, Colleen, forgiveness has been an activity that I have had to do more than once.

I read one of the books about the life of Corrie Ten Boom and her time in the concentration camp with her sister. I recently, within the past year, saw the movie for the first time. I think I cried through most of the movie. Corrie is a great inspiration when it comes to doing forgiveness.

Colleen said...

Patricia, I never saw the movie. Now I want to see it. I agree - she is truly an inspiration.

Mary333 said...

Children suffer so much sometimes. I think of my family and what we went through due to my father's alcoholism and mental illness. By the time I hit my teenage years, I was a walking ball of pain. I don't write about my past much on my website because I have younger brothers and two sisters and I don't know how much they remember about the times before my father got help. I have spoken to my older sister about things because she remembers. My mom says the others might not be able to deal with these issues yet. I don't want to overwhelm them, some of them are really struggling. I know that even I still suffer from what I call "the dark years", so I can imagine how deep theirs must be. Thank you for the post. You are in my prayers.

Colleen said...

Mary, thank you. I have been told that adult children of alcoholics and incest survivors often have the same issues. It is because of that betrayal, that loss of innocence and childhood. You are in my prayers as well. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

hi--i saw your blog on lamplighters
i wrote a book, and --it is just out hope all can read and buy it
it is
and i used a pen name--it will be my first and last book--i admire people who can do what you do
i am still in the healing process
thank you

Colleen said...

Anonymous, thank you for sharing. It is good to be on the healing journey. Hugs and prayers.