The Sunday before we talked to my abuser our Pastor spoke about Peter and when he got out of the boat. He was full of confidence at first but when he saw the waves he became afraid and started to sink.
Facing my abuser was me climbing out of the boat. For all of my life I lived safely in my boat. In my boat I didn’t have to be brave. Now God gave me a clear command: Get out of the boat and trust me.
I left of last week with all of us (my husband, my abuser and me) sitting around the dining room table as I prepared to read my letter to my abuser. Below is the letter I read. I have edited out some parts to protect my abusers identity but for the most part it is the letter in its complete form.
Dear (name removed),
This letter has been a long time in coming. But I know it needs to be written.
I am writing you this letter to tell you I forgive you. I forgive you for sexually abusing me as a little girl. I am assuming you thought I didn’t know, or had forgotten. I never forgot. But I didn’t understand what happened to me until I was in middle school.
The truth is I dismissed it as my fault and I must have done something to make you do that to me. I made excuses for you and I thought it had no impact on my life. I was wrong.
Of course after I became a Christian I thought God would just automatically heal me and I even game testimonies in the prisons about being healed. (Side note-I was in a band with Patrick and we traveled to prisons) I was deceived, I was not healed because I never sought healing, I just assumed.
My marriage wasn’t good. I constantly looked for attention from other men. I see now I had done this since I was a little girl. I learned not to trust men, even my husband. I wanted power because power had been snatched away from me for as long as I can remember.
So I had emotional affairs. I even reached the point of wanting to leave my marriage in 2005. But Pat wouldn’t let me go. We didn’t seek counseling which was a huge mistake. But I got pregnant with Kieran and things were good for a few years.
Then I got on Facebook. I knew that is was a dangerous place for me and it didn’t take long for me to become friends with someone from my past. I shared about the sexual abuse with this other man, which was odd, because at that point only three other people knew. I was sharing too much but I couldn’t stop. I wanted love so bad. More than that, I wanted power.
This time it went beyond an emotional affair. In June of 2009 I had a physical affair. It was short and fast. I fell fast and Pat found out fast. But I wanted out of my marriage. I was ready to throw my life away for this other person. I am so glad God stopped me, I would be so totally miserable. Pat fought for me. For the first time in my life I knew what true love looked like. I never knew. My dad’s love was based on me being good all the time. I felt pressure to be the perfect child or I wouldn’t be loved.
I saw Jesus through my husband. We finally sought counseling but I didn’t even want to share about the abuse because I didn’t want that to be an excuse and I thought it was. I thought I did the things I did because I was bad, not because I had scars. But I did have scars.
Because of the sexual and verbal abuse I had some pretty messed up ways of looking at things. I didn’t know how to set boundaries since boundaries were crossed when I was a child. I wanted power over men because men had been having power over me all my life.
I finally found the healing I needed for years. And I finally could forgive you and my dad. I do forgive you. Totally and completely, just as my Heavenly Father has forgiven me for my sins. You are forgiven.
I share this now because God is urging me to share my story with others, so He can be glorified. He keeps whispering in my ear when I get nervous about telling everyone, “For me Melissa, for me.”
I am done keeping secrets. God gets no glory if I remain silent. I don’t know what He has planned for me but I will be silent no longer. I wanted to talk to you first because I want to be able to tell my parents I have forgiven you completely and that I have spoken to you about this already.
If and when I speak about this publicly I will not say who sexually abused me. I do that to protect your family, no one else needs to be hurt by this.
If you have been carrying around the weight of this sin I pray that God will release you from it. The enemy would like nothing more than to make you feel about this. Please don’t. I forgive you. I know God will redeem this, He has already. He is leading me to write, which has been my dream forever. I am also able to relate to other sexual abuse victims and I wouldn’t be able to help them if I hadn’t gone through it myself. Genesis 50:20 has been the verse Pat and I cling to though all of this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
Joseph spoke those words to his brothers when he told them he forgave them for selling him into slavery. When I hear those words I don’t of the “you” in that verse as “you” (name removed) but as the enemy, the devil, who used you and then used me to do things to hurt other people. I don’t believe your were thinking about hurting me. I believe you were/are broken. I can only imagine how you have been hurt and the pain and confusion have been overwhelming for you. I believe you did what you did out of your brokenness, your desire to feel loved or maybe your desire for power because you felt you had none. The enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy you and I. I pray that you allow God to come in and heal any places you need healing. He longs to, he has been searching for you all of your life. He is the Father you long for. He loves you with an unfailing love, He is dependable, unrelenting, trustworthy. Your Father longs to hold you.
God is good, He does redeem, I believe it with all my heart, I have seen Him do it in my life with everything. I have asked God why all of this stuff had to happen to me. He asked me, “If being abused and having an affair was the only way you could really love me and have the relationship you have with me now, would you let it happen all over again?” If I am honest, I would have to say I wouldn’t trade any of it for the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. Every tear, ever heartbreak, every moment of shame was all worth it to rest in the arms of my Savior.
I hope you believe God redeems all things. He longs to redeem your wounds.
More than anything please take away that I love you and your forgiven, but more importantly Jesus loves you and forgives you, more than you could ever know.
In Christ’s Love, Melissa
Would he just stare at me and say, “Okay”? Would he deny it?
My abuser crumbled before me. His head fell forward and he sobbed. He said three words I never expected to hear, “I’m so sorry.”
Without even thinking about what I was doing I stood, went to him, wrapped my arms around him and cried along with him. “I forgive you.”
We held each other for a long time. Years of silence, shame, heartache, found peace, rest.
After we calmed down he shared with me that he had been abused when he was younger by older boys.
I hit the table with my fist. “I knew it.”
I did. Hurt people hurt people, he was a mess inside too. The mess was reflected in the horrible choices he made in his life as well.
We talked awhile longer. Patrick and I really wanted to make sure he felt loved and knew he was completely forgiven.
I know not every person will be able to face their abuser, or tell them they forgive them. I also know that even if you do you might not get the reaction you hope for. That is why you need to be in a place where you don’t need anything from your abuser. They let you down once , they might do it again. You wanted something from them before, love, acceptance, I know I did, and it got all twisted. You can’t expect anything from your abuser.
But you can expect to receive all you need from your Heavenly Father. Only He can give you all you need, He will not let you down.
I stepped out of the boat when I spoke to my abuser. Now I needed to stay out and talk to my parents and Patrick’s.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14: 27-29 NIV
Have you ever gotten out of the boat? What happened?
What’s your Genesis 5020? Share with us at: 5020genesisstories(at)gmail(dot)com