We all grieve.
We grieve over loss.
We grieve over hope deferred.
We grieve over mistreatment.
There is nothing light or insignificant about abuse. Abuse can come in many forms, but it usually happens when someone older, stronger, or bigger physically or emotionally takes advantage of someone who is younger, weaker, or smaller physically or emotionally. We have all been abused in some form. Some abuse is more difficult to forget than others, but the process of overcoming abuse is very similar for all victims.
There is always going to be grief when abuse takes place. Whether it is a little child crying after being bullied on the playground or a young woman who is raped. These are opposite extremes that will have differing levels of grief, but there will be grief. The grief of one may be for a few minutes, the grief of the other could be there in some way for life.
In the process of grieving, there is another step that must take place. Forgiveness. This is where some of you might stop reading. I have recently encountered some resistance in this area. There are those who would say that forgiveness is an essential step in the healing process after abuse, and I would have to agree. It would not be easy to forgive a person who raped you or physically abused you. It would probably be the hardest thing you will ever do, but it is essential. How do I know it is essential? The Bible provides at least two specific instances of forgiveness in extreme abuse.
Picture our Lord Jesus on the cross. He has been whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. In the process of being crucified, He calls out to His Father and says, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34. Christ is fully God, and He is fully man, so the decision to forgive would be similar to what we would experience in forgiving someone who abused us, but it would be so much harder in His case, because He not only took the abuse physically. He also took our sins and the ensuing separation from His Father.
Another biblical instance of forgiveness in extreme abuse is Stephen. In Acts 7:59-60, Stephen is stoned. As they are stoning him, he kneels and calls out to God asking Him not to lay this sin (stoning) to their charge. He forgives them in the midst of being stoned. Some would say that telling a counselee to forgive their abuser is not their place. They might say that someone should not have to rush into this. Biblically, we see that it should be an automatic response to abuse.
If you have been abused in some way, you will grieve. You should forgive. You should move on.
Moving on may seem impossible, but it is Biblical. Philippians 3:13 says that Paul does not claim to be perfect, but he has attained one thing. He has learned to forget what is behind him and reach forward to what is before him. He says that he presses on to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This is not possible if we hold on to an unforgiving spirit toward those who have abused us. Holding on only breeds bitterness. This bitterness will not only keep you from from going forward, it will defile those you touch. Your bitterness will seep out of you and into the lives of those you love and those whom you are influencing. I am not saying to stop grieving, but grieve with the hope that you have in Christ as you forgive and move on, because no matter what you go through, His purpose in your life is to ultimately make you better.
I do not take any form of abuse lightly. If you have been abused and it was a criminal act, then it should be reported. There should be punishment to the offender, but this blog is not about the offender, this is about you and I learning to grieve, forgive, and move on after being abused. If you need counsel, seek someone who will tell you the truth of God's Word and not just what you want to hear. None of us like to do the hard things, but sometimes even when we are the abused, we need to do the hard thing and the right thing.