Part 6 of 7
Like grieving, the healing process takes time, but God is patient with us in that process. He is faithful to bring healing during that time when we turn to Him.
My experience has been that there are three main steps to healing:
1. Acceptance and validation
2. Forgiveness and letting go
3. Moving On
The first step is accepting the painful reality of what happened. I personally spent quite a bit of time in denial, wishing that it weren't true. To be validated in any way during this time is very helpful for healing.
People who have experienced abuse need permission to talk about what happened to them and the right to the full range of their emotions during the healing process. Within christian circles, there is an uneasiness in talking about this unpleasant topic. Victims are often shamed into keeping their stories silent.
The next step is forgiveness. I forgive because I must. I don't want to be linked with the person who abused us through anger and bitterness. I will extend the mercy God has shown me to those who hurt me.
It took longer for me to understand that I needed to relinquish my demand for justice. Seeing my demand for justice as a function of law rather than grace helped me to let go of my desire for vindication.
I will trust God to deal with each person's heart, knowing that I want His mercy when He searches my heart. I don't expect Him to judge someone more harshly than what I would want for myself.
The final step is moving forward. I hear concern from some christians that people who have been abused want to stay stuck in their woundedness. I have trouble imagining why anyone would want to do that. It seems to me that most victims of abuse are doing their best to recover.
As we make peace with our wounds and scars, Christ's life can be revealed in the healing we've experienced. When we dare to reveal our wounds, other victims can hear that there is hope beyond their sorrow.
In the end, I'm okay. Shaken, but we survived.
Washed up? No, just washed ashore somewhere other than where we expected to be.