I’m going to be honest. I know that I am not the best person to write about forgiveness, so that’s why I want to introduce you to my friend Taylar. She has been and is walking through one of the most challenging stories on forgiveness I have ever heard. She is a college student and I am incredibly blessed to mentor her and live life with her. Taylar radiates Jesus’ love and joy to all around her and I think you will see why when you read her story. So here it is:
Who has been the hardest person in your life to forgive?
My stepdad of 10 years. Over the past 10 years he has physically, emotionally, financially, and verbally abused my family. I was almost 10 years old when I first saw him beat my mom. That night, because he was drunk, he punched holes in our walls, kicked my bedroom door down, threw my mom in the bathtub, pinned her against the mirror, bit her on the back, threw glass at her, and continued to hit her. My baby sister woke up during all of this and I remember trying to sing Amazing Grace to help her fall back asleep but the screams were too loud. This was the first and not the last time I would have to experience nights like this.
How did you forgive him? What has led you to be able to forgive him?
Over the years, my bitterness and hatred for my stepdad grew. I would be angry that all he did at home was sit on the couch and watch TV while I helped my mom raise my 3 younger siblings who are now only 11, 9, and 7. I was angry that he would curse my mom out, beat her, and then yell at me about how worthless I am and how no one would ever love me. I was angry that he would act like a man of God at church and then come home and revert back to his old, abusive ways. I was angry with him for keeping my mom from money. One day my mom, siblings, and I were in line with two carts of groceries and the card decline, making us walk out of the store with no food because my stepdad cancelled the credit card. This man who caused so much anger in me made it seem impossible to even look at him.
Being through all of this has made forgiveness my biggest struggle in life. In fourth grade I sought Christian counseling on how to deal with abuse in my family but no one really wanted to help. In high school I was afraid to talk about my home situation to anyone because no one ever really believed me that my home situation was that bad. College came and I finally got out of the house. I assumed moving out would help my heart, but still that anger resided in my heart only keeping me further from God. When I was 19 years old, God really convicted me on the sinful feelings that I was choosing to have in my heart towards my stepdad. My pastor JD Greear said that when we don’t forgive someone then we are saying that their actions towards us are greater than our sin towards the Lord. That really put into perspective how I had been living my life. I never fully allowed the Lord to take control of the situation and really heal my heart.
I was 19 years old when I finally allowed God to fully heal my heart. I let go by surrendering to God all of the anger that was bottled up inside. I finally realized that I am loved by the Lord. When I hurt, He hurts. I was holding a small grudge towards a man for what he had done to me when God has loved me despite of what I do to Him every day. I quit holding up the walls in my life and finally allowed the Lord to break them down and consume every part of me.
How have you seen God work through your obedience to forgive him?
Once I made the decision to allow God to take control of my heart and pray that He helps me forgive my stepdad, a weight lifted off my shoulders and I no longer felt trapped. I can look at my stepdad with a compassionate heart rather than a heart of hatred. I see him as an empty soul who desperately needs to accept the love of Jesus Christ. Before I forgave him, I wanted him out of my life and didn’t care where he ended up for eternity. I was skeptical that anything could change and that we were far better off without him. The Lord has helped me to pray over his broken soul and his healing rather than just my own despite of his actions towards my family and me. I have hope that God will heal my family and I am willing to be used in any way by Him to help this happen.
What would you want other girls and women in a similar place to know about forgiveness from what you have learned?
Know that the Lord is greater than any circumstance we go through. We are loved despite what any man says or does to us. The Lord is in the midst of our suffering and wants to heal our heartache. He hears us when we cry out to Him. He never leaves our side. Continue to turn to scripture and consume your heart with the promises of God.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory that He will reveal to us later. Romans 8:18
Allow the love Jesus has given to flow out of you! The more you understand his unconditional love for you, the more you can love unconditionally! This is so hard and challenging to do but our love and obedience to Jesus allows others to see Him through us. When anger builds up it hardens your heart and you become miserable. Let the anger go because it’s not worth holding on to! The Lord nailed that burden with Him on the cross. He carried that burden for us so we wouldn’t have to.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. Psalm 55:22
The Lord is good and perfect and pleasing. Lean on Him daily and let Him consume your heart. Forgiving others is then just a response to what He has done for us.