Do you struggle to forgive or know someone does?
"If you are struggling with the sin of someone who hurt you
it may be hard to believe you can offer forgiveness. That only
means you are not ready to forgive. Some rush to forgive too
quickly. You can't forgive unless you have first told all the truth
about your hurt."
--M. Craig Barnes, Hustling God
In Her Shoes
Imagine. Two young girls ride their shiny new bikes on the same bright day as they venture onto different paths. Susie and Sophie.
Susie chews grape gum and laughs when a cool breeze sweeps the purple bubble onto her cheek. She slows, careful to guard her long hair from an unwelcome emergency cut. A young boy racing by clips her bike pedal, and she tumbles to the grassy ground. Her leg is broken--and worse, there's no getting that sugary knot out of her infamous blonde waves without a pair of scissors.
The boy is terribly sorry. He calls for help and waits with Susie until help arrives. The doctor informs Susie her leg will heal in six weeks. (Her hair, too, will recover in time.)
Why did this have to happen! Stupid boy! She's stuck in a cast as the remainder of the bike-riding world rides on in the summer sun. All boys are careless and clueless and she's not afraid to let them know it.
Her youth pastor says, "Susie, you must forgive."
Sophie pedals as her favorite song plays on repeat -- a rite of passage in budding adolescence. The song and the wind and the speed with which she rides create a melody of its own caliber. She doesn't sense the teenage boy approaching from behind. And smack in the middle of a bright shiny day the color drains from her world. The fall breaks her leg. The boy fractures her body, her heart, and her mind. Life as she knows it seeps deep into the ground. Frightened and abandoned, she calls for someone--anyone, to rush to her aid. The sun offers no warmth to her cold and lonely wait.
Sophie's leg heals in six weeks. Her heart and her mind do not. She can't sleep. The nightmare plays on repeat. She hates herself for not paying closer attention. Perhaps the whole incident could have been avoided if she'd been more aware of her surroundings. She gives her bike away. The song she once loved gives her panic attacks. She hates the sun. She hates the park. She's lost in a desperate haze of pain and confusion. The memory of that dark day overshadows how she sees herself, her peers, her life, and God. She worries she will never heal.
Her youth pastor says, "You must forgive to heal. You must forgive to be forgiven."
Two paths of forgiveness must be walked; empowered and led by the same loving God. He knows what each girl needs to move forward. Sophie's path is likely to require more time and sustained support than Susie's. And although every forgiveness story is a story to be celebrated, Susie, most likely, will not be the one to validate and encourage Sophie along the way. Does this diminish Susie's forgiveness story? Nope. It just makes her one of the many forgivers with no frame of reference for the Sophie's in a fallen word.
A survivor of multiple years of childhood sexual abuse, I must say I can better relate to the "Sophie's" in the world. And I'm honored to come alongside women who struggle to forgive what they will never forget. If you better relate to Sophie's story, you don't have to go it alone. And you dont' have to hate the "Susie's" for sharing from their only frame of reference. Perhaps we could all let one another of the hook for being non other than who we are. When we can identify and celebrate the differences in our forgiveness stories we are more likely to become like-minded with our very Source of forgiveness; Christ.
You are not alone,
Wendy Redroad, Founder of Redroad Outreach