The Very Best Christmas Gift
Forgiveness is the very best Christmas gift. For those of us who have suffered significant trauma at the hands of people who should have been our caretakers, this seems like an impossible task. The core violation of long term child sexual abuse creates complex trauma.
We all need forgiveness.
There isn’t a person on the face of the earth that doesn’t need forgiveness. It’s in our DNA. Our Creator is Love perfected. He made Adam and Eve perfect, covered them with glory, but the arc angel, Lucifer tricked them because of his desire to be worshiped. So they were naked -the glory was gone. The record tells us that they tried to cover themselves with leaves, but God used skins.
They were forgiven, as far as we know, but they were no longer allowed to live in the paradise of the Garden that was created for them. Since then, all people have had to work and toil to produce a livelihood from the earth. Even if you think this is a fairy tale, we can agree that people are self centered and self indulgent by nature. Therefore, since looking out for our own needs over that of others causes angst at any level, we all need forgiveness at times.
Forgiveness is for the forgiver.
You and I are not the Creator of the Universe. Only the Lord of Lords and King of Kings is capable of forgiving and forgetting.
We neither can nor should forget, when we forgive. That could set us up for re-traumatization or the perpetuation of abuse by that person. It’s not always necessary to prosecute our abusers. It may not even be possible. Depending on the length of abuse and the complex trauma, the process itself could be prohibitive. We should get free and find healing. One way is to use a decision of forgiveness whether or not the abuser is ever aware of our decision.
“If you forgive men their trespasses then our heavenly Father will forgive you. If you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive you,” says Matthew 6:14-16
That’s it. There is a reciprocity that happens. Our complete forgiveness is contingent on our ability to forgive, but there is great news! Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of the Savior. He came to earth as the only begotten Son, to offer the power of forgiveness in our lives. He took all of our sins to the cross. All we have to do, to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His marvelous light, is declare that we trust Him.
Giving and receiving.
Christmas can be extremely difficult for those of us who grew up in abusive situations. While our peers are excited about all the giving and receiving, we are just trying to hold it together and get through. There may be conversations or actual contact with offenders. One of the most important things I ever did was an imaging exercise.
I set two chairs facing one another and sat in one. The other was empty. Then, I pictured many of the men who had severely abused me and I was very careful to stay grounded, feeling the chair and hearing my voice as I stated my decision to forgive each one. I was in a safe place, with other trusted people. Every time I gave forgiveness, I received more peace of mind.
The extreme tension in my body remains, even sometimes to this day. It is something I have to constantly manage, but I am able to trust people and have wonderful relationships with friends and family. I do not suffer the bitterness that some are plagued with. I gave myself the gift of forgiveness.
The gift of forgiveness is for you.
Staying away from your abuser(s) is important. Keeping yourself free from the things that trigger memories and uncontrollable physical responses to the trauma that our bodies retain is not always possible, but we can employ our resources to live well today. Staying in the moment, being present with the people we love is super important.
Forgiving our past is one of our greatest resources. Forgiveness is a decision that we may have to remind ourselves that we’ve made. It frees us from the past and allows us to be in the present. Surely, it is the greatest Christmas gift made possible by the birth and life, the death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
I hope you experience the greatest gift this Christmas.