I went to visit a lady a long time ago when I was just beginning to study my doctorate topics. I was a nervous wreck because I knew I was interviewing a lady who had been molested when she was young. I was a novice at that time and a nervous wreck and so was she. In terms of the topic of forgiveness and what good it will do or what a harm it will do, at the same time is like a two-edged sword.
The lady was abused and molested when she was younger, for a long, long time. It was pretty ugly, and painful. It happened when she was a child, and as she grew up, she finally got the nerve to confront her dad about what he had done. I remember the words she clearly said – her father said, “Well, you wanted it, you deserved it. So what am I supposed to apologize for?” From that point she just went into a tailspin. She had been healing and she was kind of wanting to forgive him. She wanted to bring up the topic to him; she knew he never would. When she did, his response was quite opposite and unbelievably hurtful to her - mean, blaming her completely for what he had done. Damn, how do you forgive someone who doesn't ask for it, blames you for it, and has hurt you immeasurably more than you could ever imagine?
The idea of trusting a man with her life or with her body was something that would never happen. She told me that she would never be with a man now as a result. She had trouble with men in terms of leadership roles or who were outspoken. She had been fired from many jobs because she would always react and get triggered by being in the presence of a man that reminded her of her father. She would lose it, get mad and violent toward the boss or any man at the job. She had so much animosity in her heart. She didn’t realize it.
When I asked her about getting closer to God, it didn't go over well. “Yeah, right? Like God, the Father? Anything that smells like the word father to me is not going to be something that I can trust. You're asking me to give my life to my Heavenly Father, like what my father did to me, to my body? Look, I don't trust anything male. Anybody who's in charge. I can't trust the word trust.”
About 20 minutes into listening to her story, I’m learning about her sadness and secrets, when she abruptly said, “I need to stop now.”
I said, “Okay, sure. Of course, you're the boss. Are you okay?”
“I’m okay. I just need to ask you to leave. My psych, my therapist, has always told me that when I start feeling this tension and anxiety talking about it that I should just leave the situation. I'm going downstairs.”
I said, “Oh.”
I got worried wondering what she was going to do to herself downstairs. I didn't want to leave.
She said, “You know, I trust you. I'm going to show you why.”
When I got downstairs, guess what was down there? A punching bag.
She said, “My therapist told me that whenever I get these thoughts and feelings of hatred and anger - memory triggers and flashbacks - like I have right now, I just need to come down here and just punch and punch and punch away. As I'm punching, I just sometimes end up saying punch this bag with every ounce of energy within me. I just kind of hold on to it. Cuz I'm so exhausted and I cling to it and I say, ‘Daddy, why couldn't you have loved me? Why didn't you love me? Why did you hurt me?’”
I just felt so bad. I remember going back up the steps, and saying, Lord God, there's a better way than what the world offers her. It is not the best thing in the world for her in terms of punching or killing or hating her father. The better way is ultimately forgiving even if he didn't ask for forgiveness; that poor lady would be so much better off without a punching bag if she would be able to just forgive her dad, with the grace of God, and with the healing and strength that comes from God, rather than engaging in this punching bag for the rest of her life.
I never forgot it. I just thought, wow, she's gonna be punching that bag for the rest of her life.