Yesterday, I was getting ready to enter a nearby Wal-Mart, something I do nearly every Sunday after church. I have done this a million times throughout my life, and never had an issue. As I held my son’s hand and was laughing with him, I looked up and it was like a punch to the gut. It felt like someone took all of the air from my body, and I had to turn around and go to the other entrance. What caused this, you may be wondering?
When entering Wal-Mart there was a booth of Girl Scouts selling cookies. Standing directly beside them was a man who I never want to see again in my life. He is a man so vile that he physically makes me ill. I looked up and saw him standing there amidst all those girls and I wanted to harm him in ways I could never imagine. I wanted to scream or call the police, yet there was nothing I could do. NOTHING. I felt helpless. I couldn’t even speak.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe the rest of the day. Flashbacks kept invading my thoughts. Seeing him triggered my PTSD more than anything else ever has. I was lost in my thoughts. I did manage to be braver than I thought I could be. When we left Wal-Mart, instead of walking to the opposite exit, and the long way to our car, I walked out the door nearest him. I walked right beside him, holding my kids hands, with my head held high.
As much anger that I had in me yesterday, it should be no surprise that God was going to show me what he needed me to do. As I read my devotional last night, I was given a devotional about forgiveness. The title was “Choose to Forgive”.
I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can forgive someone who has never once attempted to show remorse for what they have done. Someone who probably never even gives me a second thought. How do I forgive that? Why should I?
I know that I should forgive him, because I have been forgiven of my sins. In my heart of hearts, I know this. I should forgive him, because by not, I am letting this anger eat away at me, and change who I am as a person. The Bible is very clear on this.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 – NIV)
I just don’t understand how I can do this. I feel like if I forgive I am saying that their behavior was okay, and it wasn’t. I feel like if I forgive I am pardoning them from their actions. I feel like I am giving them a free pass, that my hurt doesn’t matter. I know that by hanging on to the hurt, I will never truly heal. I just know that I don’t know how.
As with everything, I think it begins with prayer. Prayers for me. Prayers for him. Prayers for anyone else who may have been affected. For now, that is where I will start.