In my early 20s, the adult children in my family (with my mother as a supposed ally) confronted our father about the pervasive sexual abuse he had perpetrated. But for the slow aide in the healing process, this did very little to rid us of his evil or my mother’s.
After this family meeting, my mother decided to leave him. She came to stay with me and my family. The night she arrived she went to bed early. I put her in the only extra bed I had in my children’s room. The next morning, when I came to wake her, she couldn’t move.
When I asked her what was going on, she told me that the night before she left, she woke up and my father was over her speaking in demonic tongues. She then asked me to get the bible and start reading it out loud to her. I complied. When she was finally able to move, she asked me to look at her back because the sudden pain that had stricken her. When I lifted her shirt, her back was black and blue, as if she had been beaten there.
I questioned her and she said that he did not hit her, but that this was all spiritual. At that time, I did not understand spiritual warfare and certainly was not versed in fighting real evil. I had seen red fire literally burning in my father’s eyes before — many people had; but, I wasn’t prepared to see the whole truth of the situation.
I believe too many of us try too quickly to redeem our pasts and the people in it. We force a forgiveness that isn’t genuine because it wasn’t asked for. We don’t find a valid forgiveness because we aren’t seeking the territory of a truthful reality.
I had to find forgiveness for their crimes, but I had to do it without false pretenses. I longed to put the pieces back together and find reconciliation, but the brokenness I tried to glue together, built on the foundation of denial, simply would not hold.
Real forgiveness is an achievement, and denying the validity of evil minimizes that truth. As long as evil lingers in or around the abuser, the cycle remains unbroken. Real, voluntary forgiveness achieves internal change. I learned that compulsory forgiveness is not safe – not only for me but for society at large. When I offered a cheap forgiveness I was essentially providing a safe harbor for my sexual predators.
Walking with evil people is like playing with fire. You will be burned.
Forgiveness is ultimately about reconciliation — which doesn’t necessarily mean reconciling with the perpetrator; first and foremost it means reconciling with God and then yourself.