Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Waves Beneath My Feet


Last week I was given a book, The Water Walker, by Ted Dekker.  I was excited.  Honestly.  Super Excited.  Because it has been so long since I have read a good fiction book.  I was excited to curl up.  I was excited to not be able to put it down.  I was excited to see all the scenes in my head, and what every character looked like so that if there ever were a movie made, I could critique it by the standards of my imagination.  Within about three minutes, I thought I was going to set the book on fire.  I was completely prepared to have my own book banning and book burning in the backyard by the time I was on page two…You see, I knew the theme of the book was forgiveness.  And I was still excited because I have forgiven lots of people in my life.  I can relate.  Forgiveness is hard.  Let’s have a good read and get on with this forgiveness topic that I have done so well over the last 8 years of following Jesus.  But by page 2 it became extremely apparent that the main character, Eden, is going to be abducted.  And y’all, I just can’t go there.

I hate this story.

I hate telling this story.

I hate feeling like everyone is left wondering what to say to me.

I hate this story.


When I was 6 years old, my sister and I were abducted by a stranger.  He was not a monster.  He was not disgusting.  He was a young, good looking guy in Jordache jeans who simply walked up to us in the parking lot of our apartment complex and said that he was catching bunnies in the woods.  There was no fear.  There were only two little girls talking the whole way about how we weren’t allowed to have pets in our apartment.  There was some scheming about how we could convince our mom to keep the bunnies.  But other than that there were no alarms going off in my head.  There was no, “Hey little girl, do you want some candy?” which I knew to run from.  There was just a walk with a guy who looked like he could be a camp counselor and we talked and laughed the whole time.  There was no hurry.  There was no grabbing us, or screams for help.  There was just a walk filled with laughter and the possibility of bunnies in the woods, and this might be the best weekend ever. 

Sometimes I wonder how long he had watched us.

I wonder what gave him the final push to try the bunny charade.

Sometimes I wonder if weeks had passed before he headed over to wreck our lives.

I hate him.

The moment we stepped into the woods the charade was up.  Two blankets lay on the ground.  He said that we had to catch the bunnies with our shirts, and I froze.  I have been asked 9 million times what happened in the woods.  I can only tell you bits and pieces because, for me, the world went blank and I have come to believe that Jesus Himself shielded my eyes that day.  And there would be a moment, a terrifying moment, when the blackness was gone, and this man was yelling at me to do things and he was trying to make me do things and I could not move.  I could not move.  Because I was 6 years old.  And the bunnies were a lie.  And he wouldn’t let us leave.  And he was no camp counselor.  And I wanted to cry, but I hated him more. 

And then time slowed way down.

And I could see every detail of this one tiny tree branch.

And I heard a voice in my head and in my heart saying,

“Run or Die.”

So I ran.  Because options were slim pickings that day.

I ran faster than him.  That’s hard to do when you are 6 and barefoot.  I ran into the back parking lot of our apartments and there was a man working on his car.  I was screaming.  He looked shocked.  And he ran back into the woods to find my sister.  And those were the longest minutes.  I had run.  She had not.  And all of a sudden at 6 years old I knew what it felt like to wait, face pressed against the gates of hell, hoping for a happy ending.  I was frozen in fear, but this time my eyes were wide open looking desperately for my sister.  Alone.  Because no one was looking for us. 

I can’t remember if the man who had been fixing his car was carrying her.

But in my memory she is in his arms.

The cops came.

Composite sketches were made.

They never caught him.

So, I sit here 32 years later with a book that dares to ask ME to forgive my abductor.  A book that dares ME to walk hand and hand with the Bible about forgiveness and tread on the water of my fears.  And I press on, and read the whole dang thing.  Because I can’t put it down.  Because something inside me is stirring.  Questioning.   How on earth could I even begin to forgive this man?  The man who wrecked my life, and crushed all my innocence…And I know he did it again y’all.  They never caught him.  He did this to other little girls.  He has a closet filled with wrecked little girls.  And how do you ever forgive that?  Even if Jesus tells you to?

 “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  Matthew 5:39

“But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”  Matthew 5:44

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus said all of these things y’all. 

And I’m stuck with this knowledge.  And I’m stuck knowing this boat of hatred and anger and bitterness is going to take me under, and the only answer is to walk on the waves to get back to shore.  And I’m wishing in a way that I had never read, The Water Walker, and I still know  it was placed in my hands at just the right time when I was just the right amount of ready to put just enough faith in Jesus and let my feet rest upon the waves and I will be free. 

A young guy with a disgusting secret.  He was hiding the sickness that had consumed him.  He could never tell anyone, ever, what he did in the darkness of the woods behind the apartments.  He hated himself.  He had been abused by someone growing up.  He hurt children, and he knew he was just like the ones who had hurt him. He could not look in the mirror.  He was broken to the core.

And I forgive him.

This morning, as I walked and prayed and cried, I said those words out loud.  I forgive him.  And I let myself see him through the eyes of Jesus who aches for ALL of His broken children.  Even the ones that broke me.  Even the ones I hate.  And I let my heart move on.  I just let my heart move on.  And as my boat sank to the bottom of the ocean, my feet stood firmly on the waves, and my Jesus was walking next to me.  And the man in the woods lost the battle for my life today. And I looked back over 32 years of hate and anger and fear to say the hardest words I have ever meant,

I FORGIVE you.

So, my friends, maybe you need to walk on the waves with Jesus.  Maybe you need to jump out of the boat that seems so safe, but is headed to the bottom of the ocean…and it is taking you with it.  And maybe you need to let something like 32 years of a hardened heart break wide open…take your life back through the LOVE of Jesus…and just forgive the ones who hurt you…and see them through the eyes of Jesus…and just walk forward with your life and let Jesus win this battle.  And the waves feel so good beneath my feet, and I am walking on water to a shore I have spent a long long long time trying to reach.  And I’m going to get there y’all.  With my Jesus.  And it sure feels good.



If this blog meant something to you, then please go buy the book that inspired me to write it, Ted Dekker's Water Walker:



The words of forgiveness that have poured out of me this week happened through a long journey that ended with this book.  If you are on this journey with me, and I think so many of you are, read this book to the end.  The very end. And it is in the final pages that you will see the path to that amazing, almost unbearable, but so beautiful FORGIVENESS.


301 comments:

  1. "The hardest words I have ever ment"

    That phrase is incredible! You're courage is inspiring! I love you Jackie Hooks!

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I had to close my eyes when I hit publish for this post...so scary just saying where I have walked and where my journey has taken me and that i could stand in such anger for 32 years...Jesus is so BIG.

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    2. Thank you so much for sharing. That took alot of courage. I have a similar story. Believe it or not, it involved rabbits too! When I was 8 yrs old, I was at a neighbors house. He suggested a game where he would be the hunter and us rabbits (his children included) had to run an hide and he would try an find us. It sounded like such fun. My own home was filled with domestic violence and I was afraid of my dad and not close to my mom. I have fragmented memories of abuse that went on for years. My parents didn't even know until I had left home at 16. He threatened me somehow not to tell anyone. My mom used to send me over there to get away from my own dad, not realizing that my neighbor was a monster. This went for years. He lived right next door and once I gathered the courage and opportunity to stop going into his house, he continued to perform lewd acts in in yard or naked in his window when I walked by or was playing with friends in the churchyard behind our houses. My friends who were step brothers and sisters immediately started yelling "pervert!" At him and eventually I starte to get angry at him too. I am positive he poisoned my dog after that. I was home alone with her and let her out on my lunch hour. She was dead when I tried to call her in. My mom had an autopsy done because she suspected foul play by him...she had called the humane society about the way he treated his dog. Even as I am writing this, I realize how unreal it all sounds! I am 44 now and struggle with forgiveness! I know I need to do it for myself and my well being! I need to forgive him and also my father for creating such a fearful home for me. It is hard, sometimes I am able to see that they are coming from a place of pain and abuse themselves and try and remember that they were innocent children too. I am working on it!! Thank you for the reminder of how important forgiveness is, even for those that commit "unforgivable" acts against innocent children. I feel lighter, just now

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    3. And you know...it was my time to forgive...Jesus is good. He didn't rush me toward this...32 years passed. He knew when I was ready to let it all go...to forgive.

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    4. My story pales in comparison and happened only 7 months ago. It was the betrayal of friends that has me struggling with the devil to forgive and move on. This is now a must read for me as I am 60 and don't want to meet my Lord and Savior still carrying this burden.

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  2. Wow. What a brave and inspiring message. At church this past weekend, the sermon was forgiveness and accepting that forgiveness takes time to move toward. That acting as if one day you will get there will make sure one day you do... I hope today you feel light and free from carrying that burden. Forgiveness of such evil had to have been a terrible struggle. Again, what a brave and inspiring message.

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  3. This has been a really really long road, and I love that my journey can inspire you and hopefully will continue to lead more people to the amazing amazing unbelievable power of Jesus. And I do feel lighter. I really really do.

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  4. What an amazingly brave post. Thank you for sharing and moving my heart.

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    1. Erika...I am so thankful that your heart was moved. I'm so thankful that this post spoke to you. Thanks for encouraging me today.

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  5. What a heart-wrenching post. You are so brave to hit publish and to share what it feels like to forgive after 32 long years. Thank you for sharing and inspiring others to forgive as well.

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  6. Thank you for your encouragement...it's been a long sad road at times...and this past week when I received that book at just the right time...well, it was just all to clear.

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    1. Thank you for reading. I have felt a bit speechless too the last couple of days.

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  8. This is brave and beautiful. Just... Wow. Speechless. Thank you for this.

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    1. Thank you for reading. I have been terrified to publish this, and people at my kiddos school were hugging me today, saying thank you for writing this...Following Jesus in this crazy obedience has been overwhelming this week.

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    2. Hi, I just wanted to say that my little three year old girl was talking to me one day and told me about her dream where she fell off her bunk bed and Jesus came and held her and kissed her cheek and wiped her tears and she felt better. I had this overwhelming feeling that her dream was real and a gift from the Savior. I was thankful for it and went on with life. Over the next few months she was molested by two different people. By the grace of God I found out about it soon after. I'm still struck by how much the savior loves and is mindful of each of the little children and visits them and loves on them. Thank you for sharing!

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    3. S, God bless you, and strengthen you and protect your little girl, hold her tight and understand....
      31 years ago my three year old son was molested repeatedly, and I did not catch on until much too late.
      Jackie, God bless you and thank you for your witness, I yet struggle to forgive, and wonder what good God might do, as I have watched my son's long struggle to understand, and prayed that he can forgive and trust Christ.

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  9. wow... thank you for sharing. I find that reading books that hit so close to home are the most difficult but in the end mean so much in helping us grow and learn and accept and maybe even forgive.

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    1. I literally thought I was going to vomit when I saw what the book was about...seriously? Abduction? And then I couldn't stop reading...and Jesus just took down the last few walls...it's been a long time coming.

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  10. Absolutely incredible. What an incredible story you have lived to tell...and to tell it so eloquently and beautifully is a gift. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thank you for reading it and your words of encouragement. Sometimes your own story is the hardest to tell...writing these words has been a struggle. I'm so thankful it was worth it.

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  11. You are so brave. I hope this continues your healing. Forgiveness is so very hard sometimes. Thank you for opening up and giving others hope.

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    1. Thank you for saying I am brave. Thank you. That means a lot. Seriously. Brave has been hard lately.

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  12. I have been able to forgive those who did horrible things to me as a child and those who caused me pain even as an adult. But the hardest thing I'm faced with forgiving right now, is someone who hurt my child. He's an adult now but a sudden and angry attacker left him with a broken leg and he's unable to work, care for his wife or his newborn son. Now I'm learning a whole new meaning of forgiveness. Thank you so much for telling your story. I'm so encouraged!!

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  13. I'm so glad this encouraged you. I'm so glad you are a forgiver too...and I can't imagine what I would do in YOUR shoes with someone hurting my son, but I bet you will walk the road till you forgive them too...and it may take a long long time, but just keep on walking it...and know that I'm walking it with you.

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    1. Thank you for reading. Thank you for seeing the beauty in all of my ashes. Jesus is big.

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  15. What a precious treasure! Many will hear and receive.

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    1. I hope so Maggie...I hope that Jesus will get all this crazy glory for never letting me go and never letting me stay stuck in all that crazy anger that was taking me down to the bottom of the ocean.

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  16. I had a similar experience at about the same age. The snatchers were young - in their teens. I remember very little and never told anyone. I only believed I would get in trouble for entering the forbidden woods. What a huge step you have taken. Forgive and know freedom & peace. God bless you!

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    1. And it just feels so good, ya know. This freedom to just let my heart move on. Thanks for the words...thanks for sharing a piece of you too.

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  17. Jackie,

    I'm so moved by the courage and truthfulness in your post. I can tell by the details that you so vividly relived the trauma of your childhood as you read the book. I'm so glad to hear that you forgave him. Because it's not about him, it's about YOU. Your freedom. Your ability to break free from holding that account against him and never moving forward from that spot in your life. So glad that God brought this to you at the right time, and please know your story emboldens me, as a CSA survivor myself, and a writer of YA fiction. My first book, THE PACKING HOUSE, explores with brutal honesty this issue from the perspective of a male protagonist who just wants to run from his past, but his past won't let him go, and wrecks him daily with recurring nightmares. Thank you for sharing, Jackie. It meant a lot to me.

    Warm regards,

    Don

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    1. Well, Donald, thanks for this...thanks for knowing it's about freedom...

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  18. WOW. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Thank you for reading. It means the world.

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  20. So is your sister okay? I couldn't tell from the excerpt. I'd love to read your book! What a horrible thing to endure.

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    1. Maybe someday I will have a book...who knows...
      My sister is ok. We never talked about it until 2011...that's just crazy. I didn't say much about her because it is her story to tell, and though our stories overlap, I don't want to put words or thoughts in her story...

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story. I can't say it doesn't bring up emotions. Not just for you and your sister. But in my life. I wasn't abducted. But the memories, the fear, the frozen terror is still there.

    Yet so is the grace that I'm covered with. I can't say 33 years later that healing and forgiveness wasn't, isn't a process & you're right you have to be in the right place for God to move & heal you. Allow you to let go. I still let go a little bit each day, only by Gods Grace and amazing power am I able.

    But here I am too far from shore and only Jesus holding me up. :)

    Thank you for your courage. God is using you, pouring you out for the healing of others.

    Sorry if this is a repost, I'm typing from my phone.

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    1. Shelly...thank you for your honest words. Thank you for reading. You bless my soul.

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  22. So beautiful and amazing. There is nothing more powerful than forgiveness. I pray HUGE blessing and and peace and grace to you and your family. xo

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    1. Thank you for your prayers. I never knew how powerful forgiveness could be until I forgave the one person I swore i would never forgive...The freedom is blessing enough.

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  23. Dear Jackie, yes. Different nightmare, same hard choice. I still have to keep making the choice. Because you walked on water you were set free, and just like when Simon Peter walked on the water towards Jesus, the waves come up and we stop reaching for our freedom in Jesus and we start to sink again. It is a crying out that saves us and keeps us walking on the water. I don't think Jesus asked me to forgive a man that hurt me to benefit the man... I think He asked me to forgive because it benefitted me. I am honored to fight this forgiveness battle with you.

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    1. Zephaniah 3:9, my friend. I will serve Him shoulder to shoulder with you even if we never meet. Glad to be on the road with you.

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  24. Wow. Amazing post. I have no words for how much this moved me. Extremely glad I read this post. God bless you.

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    1. Thank you for reading. Thank you for encouraging. I'm glad you read it too.

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  25. I needed to read your blog today. I have just started the process over the last decade to forgive not an abductor but 2 male cousins in my neighborhood who molested me when I was 6 year old until I was almost 9. I didn't come to grips to what they really did to me until about 10 years ago and it all started almost 60 years ago! Talk about a long time coming!

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    1. And here it is that long time coming...let's head to the shore together! You and me and Jesus. He will get us there.

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  26. I am an adult survivor of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Your words have done more to help me make sense of my way forward than any others. Plus, you've given me hope that the young surviving children whose lives and innocence were 'wrecked' by the horror that day will -- with time -- find a path to peace through forgiveness. Thank you for speaking such strength and wisdom from your heart. God bless you.

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    1. I am sitting in my kitchen with coffee (I can drink it all night long, and no it's not decaf) with chills all over. The day I prayed and ran and cried and FORGAVE...MONDAY...I was praying for all the people who are hurt just like me, and I prayed for the survivors of Sandy Hook Elementary. I prayed for you. I prayed that you would find healing. I prayed for you that day. And here you are. God bless you on this road. God is with you on this road. And although we might never meet face to face, I am with you too. He will heal you because He loves you.

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  27. I love that in Jesus we are freed from so much & freed TO so much more! In Him, we get to walk in light, forgiveness, freedom & joy! In Him, there is no darkness, no shame & we get to forgive. And...through this crazy journey He is making us more like Him. Our stories are not the same, but as I child my innocence was taken and I held onto anger, guilt & shame for many years. I had to confess, repent & forgive. So, I just want to encourage you to keep running & I'm excited for what the Lord has in store for you! Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Light...forgiveness...freedom...joy...YES! And that has been so good. Thank you for reading.

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  28. I'm not sure I could ever get here...i know I need to...i just don't know how, but you have inspired the thought of.what forgiveness can mean for me and my life...hate and holding on to the anger takes a lot away from your life. I know this. I guess I need to read the book. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. If you had asked me a week ago, just a week ago, I would have told you that I would never forgive this man and did not care what Jesus thought about that (I'm such a good person, right?). But Jesus doesn't give up on our freedom even when we don't care about it. This has been a long walk. He has been gracious to take it slowly with me and let me stop and catch my breath and shed loads of tears over the past few years. You get there with Jesus and no one else.

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  29. Jackie,
    What a gift and a challenge to read your words! I followed a link to a "random" blog because two other blogs I follow both linked to it, and was so blessed by the writing then so surprised when I got to the end and saw your sweet family's picture! Whether it be to a Senior Sunday school class, or the whole internet, thanks for being so open-handed with your story.
    Callie Cunningham (I taught Grace sunday school when she was still young enough that we called her "Princess Grace" and taught VBS with your mom) :)

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  30. Callie!!! I know you, beautiful girl!!! Thank you for reading. This was the most difficult thing I have ever written...and Jesus just kept saying to share my dive into forgiveness of the one person I vowed I would never forgive. And here I sit, with my little life and my Jesus...and forgiveness feels so good.

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  31. This is beautiful. I'm so glad it came across my facebook feed! You're strength is amazing, and I am inspired by your ability to trust God in such a terrible situation.

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    1. Thank you so much...Trusting God has not been easy...But man, it has been so good.

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  32. You write so well, thank you for the courage to share your story. Was your sister safe?

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    1. Thanks for reading. Yes, my sister was safe. The man fixing his car, who I still don't know who he was, went back to get her.

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  33. I was raped in college. Now I can forgive him. I went with an obnoxious and self-centered man man who tried to own me. Now I forgive him. My mother had broken places that made her not parent me right and she did a couple of extremely cruel things to me. Now I forgive her. My upbringing made me not achieve what I could have done if I had been stronger and had not given up on myself. Now I forgive myself. Thank you for your courageous writing, Jackie.

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    1. Thanks for your helpful perspective.

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  34. I love how healing begets healing...I love reading your heart-wrenching story with the foretelling of forgiveness, it pours hope! Thank you...for your story, for your honesty, for your vulnerability! Sister as we move out of our hurt may you always see His hand in that day and the ones that have followed. I am proud of you!
    The way I really feel close to our Lord is while I'm worshiping...and one of my favorite songs right now is "Oceans" by Hillsong...here's the link...http://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw
    Thank you for stepping out! You are loved!!!
    Jess
    ps
    I have also just started reading Water Walker...

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  35. Jess...read on my friend!!! Oceans...it has been "my song" since August...this crazy road of what do you want from me Jesus...It's a good road.

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  36. As I lay here crying and reading this, a gaping wound has just burst open. A wound I sealed shut as a little girl. I've struggling so long with forgiveness and now I feel like I'm ready. I'm really there!!!! Thank You!!

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    1. I am praying for you right now that YOU will feel the mighty hand of Jesus letting you cry and telling you how much He loves you. How much He loves YOU...let it be His story in your life. Let Him write the pages.

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    2. Praying for you, dear one.

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  37. WOW! Sorry for your experience. BUT what an amazing person you are for forgiving as Jesus forgave. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading. Thank you for the encouragement too.

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  38. I have to give a talk this Sunday and i was wondering if i could use your visual boat-sinking/walking on water analogy? I absolutely love it! I held on to my shame and hatred for 25 years. My sweet husband taught me the most profound aspect of the Atonement while i sat in tears, shaking my fists at God. I have found true forgiveness and I have never looked back at being "the victim". Thank you for your wonderful post!

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    1. Give credit to Ted Dekker and Water Walker...He laid it out for me...that book was the final jolt for all the walls to come crumbling down.

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  39. Thank you for reading my story. Jesus is big, and He has soooooo done a work in this woman who used to be soooo angry and mean.

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  40. Powerful story, so very well told. And I thank you for telling it, for living it. Forgiveness is never so much about the other person as it is about us - it's meant for our own freedom and release. I am so grateful you've found yours. And so grateful you pushed 'publish.'

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    1. I am thankful too. i really really am.

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  41. Thank you, this can help others that are at just the right time! Christ carries us! When we forgive we live. grateful for your openness & sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading. I never thought I would see this day.

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  42. It's obvious through many of these responses that you provided a platform of freedom ... freedom to express, to reveal, to dare, to forgive. I can relate to your story, sad to say. But thankful for knowing God, my Redeemer. One thing I've learned about forgiveness is that it usually means there was some kind of hurt inflicted. And hurt is something that can't be forgiven; it can only be healed. So even if we go through the process of scriptural forgiveness; unless we allow God to fully heal our broken hearts, full forgiveness will continue to be a challenge. Isaiah 61 leads us through the exchange at the cross (beauty for ashes...). My prayer for all who have posted is that each one will experience healing that can only come as a result of what happened on the cross. Thanks for sharing, Jackie. May it continue to be a source of helping people through both the healing and forgiving of past hurts.

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  43. I sometimes wonder if I have truly forgiven. Today, someone I work with asked a question about a date rape case. My first thought was "Yep; he did it. Lock him up.". There were not facts given about the circumstances. I rushed to judgment. I was date raped 20+ years ago, so this man must be guilty of it to another woman a few days or weeks ago. I thought I had forgiven and moved on 13+ years ago, but now I wonder. What are your thoughts on this? Have I forgiven if it still shapes my judgment so many years later?

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  44. You know, I think Satan loves to make us think if we step back for a second and fall back into an old safe pattern for a second, that we never were free. Sometimes we trip. Sometimes we take a step back. It doesn't negate the "work" we've done or the progress we have made. We just took a step back, and realized. and that is all. Claim your freedom that you and Jesus fought for and don't say it didn't happen just because one day you fall back and pass judgement...we are all just human, ya know?

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  45. My adopted parents couldn't have kids. So, they adopted a boy and then me 4 years later. I was adopted at 3 days old. They lift me in his care. I wasn't really wanted, my adopted brother wanted a sister. So, for 10 years he raped me. I had no one to go to. I grow up knowing it was a sin. I was a shamed of it. Thought it was over, but he raped me again at 12, only three more time. Then, he tried again when I was 14, at that time I was afraid to get pregnant. I fought him off with all I had in me. Now, I have been with many men and always seem to find the ones that sexual assault me. I'm married to one now. I keep wondering why me. Is my whole live suppose to be this way. What I have always had trouble with was my parents went to church and they read the Bible and I was to taught to pray. I have always believed in God and still do. But I can't forgive what had happened to me and still is. I have a daily battle in me and sometimes it is so hard. I'm 46 now and just want to be free of it. I'm always thinking of getting a divorce. I'm a member at a good church and I think about the kids. How weird it would be for us all, if I got a divorce. Well, I said all that just to let you know, I know how hard forgiveness is. You have done a great thing. God will bless you and you will have a place in Heaven.

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    1. This was a really realy really long road for me. This was the last piece for me. Your journey to forgiveness has to be lead by Jesus and if someone is hurting you, please don't think that is what God wants for your life. I am so sorry for what you are walking in today...

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    2. Beautiful and accurate reply to a painful post.

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    3. Go to this website for a biblical view of domestic abuse...it will help you. http://notunderbondage.blogspot.com/

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    4. A related website to the above is: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/

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  46. Thank you for your courage in sharing this!

    Forgiveness is such a powerful, miraculous journey! It is also the most painful and excruciating one too. I have my own harrowing story of healing and forgiveness that I have just recently had the courage to start writing. It was no stranger though, it was my father. It truly is a shame that we live in a world where this much forgiveness is necessary in life.

    tendermerciesmightymiracles.weebly.com

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  47. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As painful and difficult as it must have been for you to speak out, it is a powerful and stirring example of how our hearts can change. I am so sorry for your suffering, but glad to see that your life today is happy and full. Bless you and your family.

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  48. Thank you, so much, for sharing. I was abducted at the age of 9 and also spent years trapped in a self-prison of fear and hatred. I would have complete melt downs when the anniversary date came around. It has only been in the past year, 26 years laters, that I have been able to truly forgive and let go. This post really touched my heart. Thank you for being brave!

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  49. Thank you for sharing. I had my own encounter at 15. Thought it was my fault until just 2 years ago. I'm 48. I just have to say. "that was not about you"., "you are loved", "you survived" " and he is a @#$%@@%%^ that part sucks for everyone. He has to live with it. But we can forgive and let go. thank you for sharing.............

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  50. Thank you for your courage to hit share. I have only recently been able to forgive a family member for 12 years of sexual abuse ( from ages 2-14) but I can't seem to forgive him for killing my daughter. I was also able to forgive my dad before he died for all the physical and mental, emotional and sexual abuse from him. I have also forgiven my mom (who knew what what going on and never tried to stop any of it) thanks so much for sharing a part of you. God bless

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  51. I have come to understand over time that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. May your life now be full of wonderful things. ANN

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  52. My story is completely different, but the chains that have surrounded my heart are the same. I didn't even realize the anger I had in me until one day the raw, suffocating tears stopped and made room for the real pain. I had finally stopped crying, so I thought, "Hey, lookie there! I'm all shiny and new!" Then I almost ripped the wheel out of the steering column driving one day and it occurred to me, maybe I wasn't okay. Of everything you wrote that pulled at my heart, these were the words that made me burst into tears: "Maybe you need to jump out of the boat that seems so safe, but is headed to the bottom of the ocean…and it is taking you with it." Amazing testimony. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. I'm with you...I realized the anger was sooooooo much. Thanks for reading.

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  53. O my, I just want to give you a big hug and have a good cry. Thank you for sharing...

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    1. Well, I will take the hug! Thank you for reading.

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  54. I am just amazed by your writing and your honesty. I am laying here unable to sleep, and just happened upon this and read it twice. Your message is so personal and so heartfelt, but so important and that you shared it means so much! I am crying for you and your sister...thinking how scared you had to have been and how much easier it would be to hate. You are special!

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    1. Thank you so much for this...I hated for a long long long time. Thank you for seeing us.

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  55. Jackie,

    Thanks for your story. I wanted to ask a question –for my own benefit and for the benefit of your readership– about what forgiveness means to you, as it isn't entirely clear from the post; or rather the definition of forgiveness in the text appears very one-sided.

    Read cynically, your text appears less to evince a forgiveness of "him" and more a forgiveness of yourself. What I mean is, all the emphasis is on you ("I FORGIVE him" - emphasis yours, on yourself). Your primary image of walking on water from a sinking boat is also about you. And, though I am not inclined to be this cynical, the argument could be made that in your "run or die" section you are pleading with your audience to forgive you (as you are learning to do) for running and leaving your younger sister.

    Let me be clear that I am not this cynical. First, this is your story, so there will be a lot of you in it. Second, you don't know the man who did this and they never caught him, so any forgiveness will have to be of necessity propositional or self-focused. But I ask the question nevertheless to encourage our collective reflection on how best to forgive others in such a way that it doesn't appear as though we are really just forgiving ourselves.

    In short, my question is: what do you mean when you say you have forgiven him, other than the fact that you have learned to live without letting this terrible experience control your life? How have you forgiven "him"?

    I think the seeds to an answer are buried in the piece. I just want you to water them a little, if you have the time.

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    1. Great great great question. I think forgiveness is, many many many times, one sided. The person you are forgiving may not have asked to be forgiven...they may not think they need forgiveness. You may not be able to see them to forgive them in person...it is just this wrestling match a lot of times with your self and your anger and your Jesus...So, thatbeing said, forgiving him for me was seeing him through God's eyes...seeing him as broken and damaged...and forgiving him. My forgiveness of him means nothing to him I would guess at all. Also, let me say this, in no way am I asking for forgiveness for my actions as a 6 year old girl. I was 6. I ran. I quit being ashamed a long time before I reached forgiveness so, if there is anyone who thinks that there is an ounce of me feeling bad about my choices that day...no....I ran. I lived. My sister lived. These were the choices that day. And I thank Jesus that He spoke the words to move my feet.

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    2. Thanks for your engagement with my question. I think this was helpful. The answer I was looking for was here: "forgiving him for me was seeing him through God's eyes...seeing him as broken and damaged...and forgiving him." This was present in your text, as I said, but I wanted to see if that was indeed how you understood it formally.

      As I said, I am not as cynical as the question I asked might suggest. I wanted to flesh this out a bit because I think that forgiveness has a selfless dimension that wasn't highlighted in your piece (though it was operative in the background). I would support my assertion of the selfless dimension by appealing to the centrality of kenosis in God's action (in Christ) for our forgiveness (c.f. The Christ Hymn of Phil 2). Seeing perpetrators through God's eyes is precisely the definition of forgiveness that I think we as Christians need to maintain. But the more difficult discrimination to make seems to me to be: how does this take on flesh? How might our actions change by seeing him as a broken and damaged son of God?

      In your case you say that you no longer hating him was the key manifestation. I think this is right on. But to say you haven't anything to apologize for might be misleading, at least in one respect. You clearly are not morally culpable for your violation. This was fully his sin. But your sin might be in the years of (as you seem to imply) hard-heartedness. As I understood the boat metaphor, the safe vessel which was really sinking was your hatred. It had provided you with the security to survive for a time, but trusting in it would lead you to the abyss. You had to hop(e) on the water with Jesus to avoid being pulled under. In this sense, the forgiveness needed was not from you but to you.

      I wanted to pull out this part of your story and focus on it because, as pray-ers of the Lord's Prayer, our forgiveness is always conditioned upon our first having been forgiven by Christ. You clearly meant this. I just wanted to reinforce the point.

      If you would entertain one more question of the ethical variety: how would you respond, in line with this understanding of forgiveness, if he were to appear tomorrow and ask for it from you? Or perhaps less clear would be: how would you respond in the situation that you encountered him and he didn't ask for it? What does forgiveness do here? I confess, I myself have little idea.

      Pax Christi, now and always.

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    3. After reading your last two questions to Jackie, I find myself almost angry. I'm not quite sure what your intent is here, because it seems to me, that you are trying to place the seed of doubt into get heart as to whether or not she has forgiven correctly by your standard. She expressed herself and her journey beautifully and honestly. All forgiveness is not the same. We all forgive in different ways, and at different times. I believe she answered your question Sir/Ma'am, and you proceeded to ask the same question, only worded differently. What is it that you are trying to accomplish here?

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  56. I was 6 years old and my grandfather took me to the basement. Enough said. I am 44 now and I have forgiven him. I have always had a comfort in knowing that Jesus would judge him and he would end up exactly where he deserved. He died 10+ years ago. I didnt really know him well. He lived out of state and thankfully I only saw him one other time whenI was 12. My sister was 6 then and I watched her like a hawk.he wwasn't going to touch her. Its comforting to know he has been handled. He could be in heaven. I dont know. Jesus put him where he deserves to be and thats ok with me.

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    1. Thank you for reading this, and your vigilance for your sister is beautiful. Yes. Jesus is the final judge and I love the peace you have made...

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  57. Light chases away the dark. God just used you to shine and radiate His light into a world of Sin. Your weakness, His strength, victory is won.

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    1. Salt and light...what we are supposed to be...thank you.

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  58. I struggled for a long time with this concept but if you understand free will completely, this is it: If God loves us enough to create us with complete free will, i.e., the CHOICE to come to Him freely IN LOVE, then our free will extends to us CHOOSING EVIL. So he can no more step in and force someone to choose good, than evil. In other words, He must allow us freedom to choose good as well as allowing them freedom to choose evil--because he loves us all equally--whether we are Mother Theresa or Adolf Hitler, or your grandmother or the child molester down the street.
    God less you for making it to the other side of forgiveness, for it is a long and lonely journey through hell.

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  59. Paula...thank you for your words. Thank you.

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  60. You are an amazing woman. What a testament to your faith and a challenge to ours, to forgive. Thank you for sharing this, you are incredibly brave. I will think of you and pray for you as I battle my own fights with Forgiveness. Thank you

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    1. Kristina I love the prayers. I will pray for you too. Only with Jesus can we forgive the things that are unforgivable.

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  61. https://www.facebook.com/incourage/photos/np.222606183.561488000/10152358737438674/?type=1&permPage=1

    I'm not sure if this link will show you the picture, but when I finished reading your story, I was reminded of this picture I saw yesterday on the Incourage facebook page. Thank you for being courageous and sharing with us here.

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    1. Thank you so very much for reading.

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  62. We are studying Matthew 18:21-22 (next week is Matthew 6:14-15) in our online Bible study group this week. Someone shared this with us and now I'm sharing it with others. Wow... I cried. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God has worked good from this horrible, unspeakable situation in your life 32 years later as He is ministering to the lives of many through your brave words. May you be richly blessed for your obedience in sharing this. Thank you!

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    1. Thank You Faith. I love how Romans 8:28 uses the word "those"...it means He works it out for more than just me...He worked it out for good for you too. God is good.

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  63. I am so glad you and your sister survived. Praying for you. Thanks for your courage.

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  64. Even forgiveness is not in our power, we must have Christ in us to do this properly. He grants us the gift of forgiveness, and in His timing. When my friends or counselor ask me if I have forgiven my abuser/enemy, I am baffled because OF COURSE I do, to the degree that I can WILL it. BUT, Jesus brings the wholeness and ability to us when we are ready to to truly forgive. Dear Jackie, this was your time. I'm so glad you wrote this post. Sharing these painful things is blessing so many people, I can see! This story is incredible. I think I must now read this book.

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    1. It was all in His timing alone. It was the perfect time for me to lay the last pieces down at the feet of Jesus and say, "You do this...I can't".

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  65. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for the encouragement of forgiveness. I recently (last week) shared my story of grief with the world via my new blog...even though I was scared to death. Fear of judgment. Fear of failure. Fear of so many things. Exposing our secrets is part of the healing process in my opinion. It not only helps us but can help others, many we will never even know about, know that there is no fear in sharing your truth - only freedom. Forgiveness is also part of the equation. I am encouraged by this post and so glad I happened to see it in my Facebook news feed. Blessings to you. My blog is secretsinakitchencabinet (dot) com

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    1. I am so thankful you read too. Somehow showing our scars gives people hope.

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  66. Thank you for your courage! I'm not sure why I stopped to read your post as it showed in my FB stream, but I am SO glad I did.

    I had a very similar thing happen to me and a friend when we were little. A man approached us to talk about the bunnies he found and we willing followed him to the woods where a blanket was waiting and there were no bunnies around. The man was never caught and continued to do it to other girls for a few years after without ever being caught. It was the middle of the day and I've always sort of blamed myself for just walking off with him. This was a public case involving police sketches, regular trips to go through the mug shot books and it was all over the news here.

    The similarities are just too much for me to comprehend in any other way than to know that there is a devil who uses the same tricks through people to try to kill and destroy us.

    Reading your words brought up some areas that I see still need a touch, and even though I thought I had moved on past this already I see that God is taking me to a deeper level of healing. Thank you again for your bravery.

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    1. Press on my friend. i am walking with you.

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    2. One has to wonder if you may have lived in the same area as Kristie and if this could have been the same person, so many similarities...

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  67. I cant tell you how much I needed this....As a mom of three young little girls, the haunting memory of my abuse as a child grips onto my life everyday and cripples me fearing it will also happen to them. I pray I come to this place soon... thank you for your courage....you are inspiring!

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    1. My journey toward freedom began with my daughter, Grace. I was terrified all the time that she would get stolen, and I knew I had to deal with everything for her sake...and for the 6 year old me still frozen inside.

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  68. Your ability to share can only be explained as the Power of The Most High. I think people struggle so hard to try to understand how a person can forgive such ugliness. The point is we are human and CANNOT without the power that was made possible by the blood shed on the cross. We can take the steps and move forward, but it is God's doing only. You are an amazing woman. Sharing the most horrific experience in your life is a true testimony of how much you have learned and understand. You are inspiring many by using your experience and voice. That is what we are called to do as believers. I too have a story that God will use in His time to share with those who need to hear. Forgiveness is it at the core, but my exploration with Him is forgiving myself. The enemy is powerful in keeping us down- thank you for rising up and taking hold and making others aware of God's command to forgive.

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    1. This is such needed encouragement. I honestly was just afraid of how I would face people at my kiddo's school, and this has been so much more than I could have ever imagined...and this is just how Jesus works.

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  69. I usually don't get caught in a blog post so much so that I feel I have to let the writer know how I am feeling. You are incredible. You have learned a way to forgive something so scarring, where most would harbor that hatred for the rest of their lives. I feel you were prompted to write for Jesus. the kingdom of God is growing through your words and your forgiveness. Thank you for sharing your story and letting god move mountains through your heart.

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  70. Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing this with me...Jesus is big enough to move the mountains in my heart.

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  71. My wife was murdered in 2008. I know what it means to have to do this kind of forgiving! Only by the grace of God!

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    1. ONLY by His grace alone. I could not do this without Him.

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  72. As I sit here crying, I just want to hug and hug the 6 year old you.

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    1. Well, I will totally take that hug. Thank you for reading.

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  73. Jackie, I was hurt by those who was to help protect me. I was young it lasted for years. I try to forget but it always comes back to me. I must read this book. I know that I must forgive but I am afraid to do so. I feel as if I am guilty for allowing this to continue over years. I must forgive them and myself. Thanks for the encouragement;

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    1. The book is, The Water Walker, by Ted Dekker. Go. Read it. Get to the very end. It is worth it.

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  74. A flood of thoughts as I read this ...

    When I was 12, I was standing in my leotard waiting for my mom outside of my gymnastics studio (hey, this was the 70's, when people didn't worry about this kind of thing much). A guy tried to get me to come to him and asked me what my name was. I was afraid and very stupid; I talked to him a little while, telling him I couldn't come to him because I was waiting for someone and giving him a phony name. I finally ran inside and told the instructor, but when she went out to look for him he was gone. My dad drilled me at length on his appearance and went out alone looking him. I shudder to think what would have happened had he found him.

    Then when I was 16, I had a 21-year-old boyfriend (I lied to my parents about his age). One day he attempted to date rape me, but when I finally screamed after multiple resistance attempts, he stopped at the last possible second. I ran to the bathroom, and afterwards he apologized and told me he couldn't believe it when he saw how scared I was. I hated him for many years, until one morning in church before communion when I was examining myself for sin, I suddenly realized I needed to forgive him. I began to look at the whole thing from what I imagined his perspective was, and I finally, totally forgave him. Hooray, right? The enemy is so evil that he threw an unexpected wrench into things. Once I had forgiven him, I began to recall the good times with him prior to that day. He had a great sense of humor and was very attractive. I began having frequent dreams about him that I couldn't stop despite my determination to do so. Whenever I'd wake up from a dream, he'd be on my mind afterwards for a while. The BIG problem was that I was married for 20+ years, happily so, and with 3 kids! My husband wanted to help me through it and wanted me to share everything with him. It took a long time, maybe 5 years or so, for the dreams to quit coming, but with prayer they finally did. And our marriage is as strong as ever!!

    Thank you for sharing your story and your victory in forgiveness. I know you've helped a lot of hurting people.

    (P.S. I typed this twice ... the first time I was afraid to hit "Publish." When I hit "Preview," my words were lost and couldn't be recovered. Just thought you should know, in case this has happened to others as well.)

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    1. I'm so glad you have been so persistant with your journey with Jesus. He can accomplish anything.

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  75. Thank you for this post. I was abused as a child, too. One of the hardest things I ever did was forgive her. She is my cousin. Not exactly easy to run from family when you're trying to move on with the memories of abuse. But, decades later, I too forgave, and I felt lighter, literally. True freedom in Christ like that is so amazing. God bless you and thank you again for sharing your story.

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    1. It does bring so much freedom. It just does and you can't fully explain it. I love that you read this post and felt compelled to share.

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  76. I just want to say thank you for your post.....I am not a victim of what tou had to go through but I'm someone that went through physical and emotional abuse by the one person I thought I was going to marry and spend my life with. Its been a few years since I've seen or spoke to him but all in all I still picture everything like it was yesterday....I too have forgave....without God I never could have. ....I'm still rebuilding my life but because of things I am stronger and the times I thought God had deserted me...he later showed me thst he was with me the entire time. God bless you and thank you for telling your story... I realize

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    1. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing where Jesus has taken you too.

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  77. Why do you feel the need to forgive? What is wrong with wanting/wishing for this man to die a horrible and painful death? I commend you for moving on with your life but why do you find comfort in forgiving? To me, you can still have a healthy and purposeful life and still wish/want for horrible things to happen to this man. I believe that sometime people take the bible too literal. The quote you posted from Matthew 5:39. "Do not resist evil". Really? I guess we screwed up big time by resisting Hitler. I suggest that you use the bible as guide to live your life but not as a method to live your life. These are my thoughts only.

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    1. Because God is Love and we want to be like our Saviour in every way. He asks us to be like Him. He brings blessings out of pain. My mother was gang-raped at 18. My dad was raped by a minister. All of us have benefited from their strength to forgive, move on, to bring forth and nurture life. They have given their children so much more than a tragic history. My parents have given us the knowledge that Jesus heals all. I am so proud of my parents. "In weakness power reaches perfection." Some like the commenter above may think my parents and others who were abused are weak in forgiving and accepting the healing that can only come through opening ourselves to the pain and letting it transform us. I call them my heroes. -Robin

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    2. You know, I wish I could explain the crazy power in forgiveness...it took so much energy to hate...you totally don't have to agree with me at all. But, I don't think I was talking about Hitler, so, I was talking about me and my journey....just me and my journey. And in my journey forgiving and loving my enemy does not in any way mean i agree with or condone his actions, they simply have no power over me anymore...no power to make me hate or burn with anger. So, I appreciate you reading. I really do.

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    3. I guess that we will agree to disagree. My father was killed in a robbery attempt many years ago. The man who killed him is still in prison. I have not forgiven the man who took my father away from me and in fact I despise him. I don't feel the need or have the desire to forgive him. Even though I feel this way, I still live a wonderful life. I have a fantastic wife as well as 5 loving children. We go to church every Sunday. I feel that God has no problem with me feeling this way. He has blessed me in so many other ways. If forgiving your attacker has given you a measure of peace and comfort, then I am happy for you. My remark about Hitler was in contradiction to the verse from the book of Matthew that you posted. To me, too many people take the literal interpretation of the bible and believe that that is the only way.

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  78. Thank you Jackie, I am 55 and retired now but was well into my 40s before God brought me to that place, It was for me as for you. God Bless you sweet lady. He is faithful and yes, He is sooo patient. He is never in a hurry and always right on time. I have found there are swings in how we "feel" but once the words are said we can never really go back, and the healing is never undone - He is AMAZING and you are precious to Him, Oh so very precious & blessed to be on the otherside. My prayers for your continued healing and confidence.

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    1. Thank you. I love that you say it can never be undone. You're so right.

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  79. Let me assure you that your courage is so life-giving. Thank you.
    -Robin (from above)

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    1. Thank you. Thank you. All Glory to Jesus, and Amen.

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  80. Thank you for sharing, Jackie. Our God is so good. I'm so thankful that you know his love for you!

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    1. I am thankful I shared too...it has been tremendous. thank you for reading, and yes, our God is so good.

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  81. dorothy beard standridgeMarch 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    jackie, thank you so much for the inspiring words! And you are so right, it feels so much lighter when we can forgive! I had to watch my daughter and two year old grandson be physically and mentally abused for two years. One of the hardest things I've ever done but with Gods help and grace I have been able to say I forgive him!! Even pray for God to reach down and save his soul!! Thank God for his Mercy and Grace!!! Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. It has truly touched me.

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  82. This is beautiful Dorothy!!!!

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  83. Jackie,
    Your forgiveness is not only freedom for you, but quite possibly the freedom that that man needs. Your forgiveness has changed the spiritual landscape and now God can move mightily! Thank you for bravely putting this out there. Bless you!
    Lisa

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  84. The words you used to describe your abductor hit me so hard I cried. For the first time I was able to really picture one of these people I just used to write off as sick and disgusting. Thank you so much for this.

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    1. Thank you for reading this truth.

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  85. Thank you for sharing your strength. My brother physically abused me for many years. I hated him until Jesus just took it away one day. My brother has also found the healing power of Jesus' love. Thank you Jesus for healing us all.

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  86. I read your post and cried. When I think I've forgiven my abuser something always seems to come up that makes me question that fact. whenever someone talks about forgiveness I always think of that song that says 'it's the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today it always goes to those who don't deserve'....but it goes on to say 'the prisoner that it really frees is you'. I want to be free! And I want others to be free! Victims can, and do every day, become victorious. Just give it to God and he will do the healing. He, however, won't take it without your permission. Thank you again for your post Jackie.

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  87. Bethany, thank you for reading. Thank you for knowing the struggle.

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  88. what a powerful testimony. so many of us have experienced the loss of our innocence in such damaging experiences. i'm glad that in HIM you found life abundant, and the courage to trust HIM with this wound. i pray this be a tool against the enemy to help free others who are captive to past hurts, i pray the offenders come to know HIS goodness and grace. thank you so much for sharing this private place.

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement and your prayers. Thank you for reading my story.

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  89. OH MY GOSH! Jackie, you are a better person than me. What a wonderful testimony to share! I just cannot forgive...I just can't. I keep hearing "no you can't - let Jesus." I just can't. God bless you and I'm sorry for your pain!
    Kelly

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    1. This is simply where Jesus has lead me over decades...it has been a long road with lots of stops and turns...it has been a hard road....but ultimately it has been a good road. Jesus is gracious. He didn't hand me this book until I was ready.

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  90. Wow! What an amazing, awful, beautiful story!
    I can't even begin to imagine how you felt as you prepared to share this but THANK YOU!!!
    I am struggling with forgiveness right now, myself and I needed this!!! God knew I needed this & He sent you to give me the encouragement in needed today! Thank you SO much <3

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    1. I'm so glad you read this, and I'm so thankful it was what you needed.

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  91. May I ask where you were living when this horrible incident took place? I had almost the EXACT same thing happen to a friend and me about 30 years ago in Marietta, GA. Same description of the young man, and same story. Bunnies. The guy was very clever and made us feel comfortable. A lot of laughing and game playing. I was not hurt however, unfortunately the same can not be said for my friend. The man was never caught. If this was in the same area, I would like to speak with you further.

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    1. I actually lived in Arlington, TX.

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    2. I was abducted from my bedroom when I was 4. I was living in Smyrna, GA at the time. It's a long story but that man was never caught. This was over 44 years ago but I always assumed that he was still out there abusing others. This is very close to Marietta. He would have been a teen more than likely when it happened to me because I remember describing him as younger than my parents but older than my brothers. My parents were in their 20's and my half brothers were in the 10-13 range. So theoretically this made me think that this could be the same person since he could have been late 20's or so when this happened to you Sarah A....just a thought.

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  92. As I recently told you, Jackie, God has given you a real gift of writing. I think that He has also given you the gift of honesty. . . many of us could not be as honest as you are . . .and that gift is amazingly helpful to others of us. Thank you so much for helping us with a humanly-difficult step.

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  93. Sandy!!!
    I told you that day that I so needed to hear your words, and today it's true again. Thank you. Thank you. You bless my soul.

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  94. Did your sister survive?

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    1. She sure did. And I am so thankful.

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  95. This touched me, thank you for sharing. My brother molested me as a child and I haven't truly forgiven him in my heart and this really opened my eyes and made me realize that I've been holding onto this grudge for over 20 years now and it's time to forgive and let Jesus heal my heart.

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    1. This is beautiful. I am praying for you and your journey.

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  96. Letting go of the secrets that haunt us is part of the burden of forgiveness. I too am a writer and I too shared, in a smaller more private forum my secret of abuse. I was sick with fear and anger and hurt still, after 43 years of holding it in. But telling it to others did help in ways I could/can hardly believe. It's still a hurtful thing in small ways, but it's not the hateful, sick, awful thing it was now it's been shared. It was a cleansing thing, and I pray you find that to be true as well.

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  97. Thank you, Terri. Yes. So crazy what it feels like this week...so overwhelmed by love and support from all over...thank you for sharing. Bless you, my friend.

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  98. So was your sister okay? Is she still alive today?

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    1. She was ok, and she is still alive today. Thank you so much for reading and worrying about her.

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  99. First I want to say thank you for sharing. And that you are so gracious in your responses to others, even the difficult ones ;) I think forgiveness is a journey, not a destination. My father sexually abused me from about age 4 until 10. I went through counseling, years of it. I stopped seeing my dad and then tried to reestablish a *healthy* relationship, but eventually gave up. And over the next few years, I was learning to forgive him. I began to see him as a broken person. What he did to me was still wrong, but ultimately he had to answer to God for it, not me. And that there was nothing on this earth that could ever fix what he did or make it right. I began to accept the fact that he may one day accept Jesus in his heart, and then spend eternity in Heaven . . . where I was planning to spend eternity as well.
    And then in 2012, after not talking to my dad for 11yrs, I got the call that he was on his death bed. So with great fear & uncertainty, my mom and I went to his hospital room. I didn't want to be there but I knew God had a purpose in it, and I didn't want to miss out on it. And the whole time I kept thinking, I can't handle this, he just needs to die and it be done. But I told him I loved him and forgave him. I continued to visit with my mom by my side. The visits were strained but I tried. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't that 10 year old kid anymore. A week and a half later he passed.
    While it was one of the hardest experiences ever, I am thankful for it. I know God carried me through it. My father had the chance to die at peace (isn't that what we all want?) And I don't have to spent the rest of my life in doubt, wondering if I've forgiven him or if I should have done something more.

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    1. This is such a powerful story of forgiveness. Bless you on your journey. I'm so thankful our paths crossed.

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  100. I am sitting in my office, with tears streaming down my face. This is MY story! I was in a very similar situation for several years, and I have HATED for over 37 years! I have blamed many things in my life on that terrible time, have said many time "well if that had not happened to me then I would have made a different choice". I have said I forgive, but until I read this just now, I realized that I have not. I will get this book. God bless you and thank you for sharing.

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  101. I love that you are moving forward...I was so ok with my hate and anger because my hate and anger made sense...and then there is Jesus, and He just turns it all upside down. I hope you find this forgivenss too.

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  102. Powerful testimony...Jesus is so Amazing leading you through the hurt and anger. All things are definitely possible through Him!

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  103. This really helps to open my eyes, I never went through something like your experience. but I do have a hardened heart. I'm 22 now but have felt pain in my heart since I was 13. My parents divorced and immediately my mother let another man into the home. I remember the things he would tell me that made me feel....the lowest. I revealed to my mother everything and she defended the things he said and just shook it off. I pray that I can finally let go of this hatred and say that phrase to my mother and to the man who made me cry for the past 9 going on 10 years.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It reminds me how everybody goes through their own trials. but that God can make it all better.

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  104. I am so happy for you that you have reached the freedom of forgiveness for this man. I find myself saying a prayer for the broken person he is to be healed if it's still needed.

    I forgave the man who raped me many years ago. About a year later I learned he had died a few months after I had reached forgiveness. Part of me was relieved and part of me was angry that his obituary read like he had been a saint. Part of me sincerely hopes he confessed his sin to God and received forgiveness. Nevertheless, my reaction to his obituary made me question my forgiveness. I still do actually. Perhaps I should read this book by Ted Dekker.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It had to be excruciating to relive that experience. Please know it is a mighty encouragement to those of us who also struggle with such painful experiences. Thank you.

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  105. POWERFUL. Ted Dekker shared your story on my FB feed. I just finished this book, right on time to help me deal with some issues.

    My family imploded when I was 12 due to the discovery of my father's sexual abuse of my sister. For many years, she made choices that were not the best for her. As an adult, she walked away from her family and children to pursue relief in hard core drugs, IV meth use was the poison she picked. It was the unresolved anger and subsequent lack of control that enabled her to spiral downward over a period of 5 years. I am so thankful to say that a great organization helped her get her life and sanity back. It was a program which relied on Christ and His teachings, not a "rehab." God is so good. She was gone from her family for a total of 7 years, including the time she spent getting well. Within 12 months of her "graduation" she was back with her family and remarried to her sweetie. She walked on water when she reached out with forgiveness in her heart towards her abuser soon after she was home. She is free.

    You have been very brave to share such a story publicly. I admire your courage. You are free. Thank God.

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    1. Would you mind sharing the organization's name, website, any available info?

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  106. Thank you so much for sharing your story and writing this post. I may not have been abducted, but I can understand the need for forgiveness over past hurts and how hard it is.

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  107. Thank you for publishing your story! I think most of us are being drawn to it because of a similar situation. God bless you and everyone who reads it!

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  108. As I type this comment, I am in tears. I too, have read Water Walker as Ted Dekker is my absolute favorite author.....I have read his books for about 7 years since I come across House (with Frank Peretti). I started with episode 1 when it was first released for free. I set my alarm on my calendar to remind me when the next episode was due to release! At the time, I had no idea then, my husband (of 10 years) and best friend (of 20 years!) were having an affair and I recently found out 4 days ago. I have struggled ALL week with forgiveness and anger. I woke up today and told myself that if I was to get through this, I needed to be reminded that God had me in this path for a reason. He wouldn't bring me to it if he wasn't going to get me through it. THEN, Ted Dekker himself shares your blog on Facebook. You are such an inspiration! All I can say is THANK YOU for being so brave by sharing your story. Looks like I'm not the only one to benefit from your story! Thanks again!

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    1. Sherri!
      Thank you for sharing your story with me...I hold that so completely dear to my heart...I am praying for you right now in my kitchen. Jesus loves you. He loves you so much.

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  109. I was told I should forgive. Was told the forgiveness is not for him it is for me. It took about 10 years of hate in my heart before I figured out what this meant. Forgiveness lifted a burden off of me like none other. They will always have to live with their actions but it doesn't mean we need to be locked up in the past. Forgiveness is a critical key in living a good healthy life.

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    1. I totally totally agree, and I am so thankful that you have had that burden lifted and your chains removed...

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  110. I was 5 when it happened to me. I remember the police coming and making a report and then no one talked about it again. Eventually I thought I made it up until a childhood friend mentioned it when I was 18. I'm 55 now and your story brought me to tears remembering and yet not really remembering at all. I'm thankful for a husband who encouraged me to talk to a counselor and find peace and forgiveness. But I never even considered the hurt in the man, only how it affected me. Thank you for sharing your story and challenging me to pray for him and consider his brokenness. .

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    1. I love this. I love your husband. Mine is pretty awesome too...soooo encouraged me to write this post. There are many prayers coming for those that have hurt us...I cannot wait to see what this will do to help change the world.

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  111. God's timing is perfect. I need to pick up this book. It is time for the next step in forgiveness.

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    1. I love that this came at a perfect time for you too...I cannot believe how amazingly this has all come together...and then,of course I can. Jesus is big.

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  112. I was moved by your story and you willingness to forgive. I try to forgive but there are days when the emotional pain is so great that I wonder if I'm still holding on to it or if I truly forgave. The one I was married to,most days I know I have forgiven him for what he did though I still wonder why he did those things there are days I wonder what the heck I did wrong was I that bad of a person but what hurts the most and what I have trouble with the most is him abandoning his children and leaving me to try to help my kids through the emotions they feel about not having a father. The other problem I have with forgiveness, though I try,is the situation I now live in bc I have to rely on other to help support my kids bc I can't alone and he doesn't help and those who do help us have done so with a price they have my children and I broken and living in fear. My oldest blames me for not being able to support us and having to rely on them and she harbors so much animosity and pain that she can no longer see God and is walking down a destructive path that I can pull her off of and she has even considered saling her soul just to have a life away from here and away from those who control us.

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  113. I am so very very sorry...so very sorry...This journey to forgiveness for me was a long one, and maybe it is a long one for you too. Know that your journey and your story are so important and I am so honored that you would share this with me.

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