Why is Forgiveness So Hard?

I recently completed a bible study and we used “Choosing Forgiveness” by Nancy DeMoss as the guide.  Throughout the three-month study, I was reminded how pockets of bitterness can take hold and thrust me into a backslide to an unforgiving heart.  Here are a few takeaways from her book that helped me grow as a Christian:

1)The more we hold on to bitterness, blame and anger, the more we become slaves to unforgiveness.

2)Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to deal with another’s sin and when you do so, you wipe the slate clean.  It’s permanent!

3)Sometimes we say we have forgiven the person. However, if you find yourself continually bringing up the the way someone has sinned against you, you have not truly forgiven the person.

4)It will never be in your power, in the depth of your love, in the ANYTHING of you that allows you to forgive.  It is only through love of Jesus Christ placed into your believer’s heart that can enable you to forgive the offender.

5)”I’m going to making him/her pay!!” Isn’t that what our response is as humans?  We take justice into our hands and spend our lifetimes thinking of how we will revenge the wrongdoer because we think they got off scot-free.  However, we must trust God’s process and believe that justice will still be served if we forgive the person.  It is not up to us to administer justice to the person who hurts us.  God is the ONLY ONE who rights all wrongs.  “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Basically, God is saying to us, “You don’t have be the keeper of the keys and hold that person in prison.  Justice is my job so give the keys to me and let me to do the job!” God is the most righteous of judges and we can trust Him…..meaning He’s going to do a heck of a lot better job. 🙂

6) Satan will tell you over and over not to forgive the person.  What are the lies that the devil tells you to prompt you not to forgive?  Often, I have thought and have wanted to scream out loud, “He doesn’t deserve it!!!”  But then, I have to ask myself, “Did I deserve for Jesus to hang on the cross for me?”

7)By God’s grace, forgiveness doesn’t have to take a long time.  It can be done in a moment of time.  It allow healing to begin, restoration to take place so that we don’t have to live in a prison of bitterness, sorrow, sadness, anger and blame.


Is the road to forgiveness easy? No. Is it possible? Yes.

Forgiveness is hard. Forgiving someone who has hurt you is absolutely one of the most challenging things to do in life….it was for me. You might say you have forgiven, but what happens when you don’t FORGET. If you are like most of us, you can get to a point of forgiveness and actually feel like you have forgiven, but then the bitterness re-emerges, creeps back in and all the feelings of hurt, disgust, pain and anger start all over again.

That’s not true forgiveness.

If we turn to God’s word, He specifically tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The greatest thing that forgiveness has brought to my life is peace. Forgiveness is not for the person who created the pain and suffering. Forgiveness is for YOU! Remember, forgiveness never justifies the terrible deed and/or the person who hurt you. It does not provide God’s forgiveness for their actions, because only God can do that.

Forgiving others makes a way for our own healing to begin.

God is saying that the act of forgiveness is the only path if we want to find true peace. A spirit of unforgiveness (and not forgetting) puts a roadblock with our daily walk with God. Forgiving others releases us from anger and allows us to journey with Him and feel His presence and love daily.

Which path will you choose to take today?

Restoration from Sexual Assault is Attainable…Look at my Life



It’s been 9,862 days since my sexual assault occured 27 years ago today.  Over the decades, I have been tormented by fear, anxiety, and loss of trust in the world.  I have wept, grieved, and experienced one of the most horrific things a woman can endure.

But today, I stand here a stronger woman.  The man who sodomized me did not destroy me. The man who robbed me did not steal my pursuit of happiness.  The man who fled from that hotel room didn’t have within him what I had.  I had resilence. Determination. God’s grace. The love of family.

I came out the victor.

But how about all the other women who get harrassed, assaulted, raped?  Will they recover?  Will they have the belief to not give up hope of restoration?

Restoration came to me from many different places.  In honor of 27 years, I’ll give you 27 of the most important things that helped me.

  1. God
  2. Counseling from a Psychologist
  3. Counseling from a Psychiatrist
  4. Yoga
  5. Meditation
  6. Beth Moore Bible Study
  7. Community Bible Study
  8. Writing my memoir
  9. Public speaking
  10. Being a mentor to other survivors
  11. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
  12. The Anxiety Disease by David Sheehan, MD
  13. My family
  14. Writing a blog
  15. Writing in a journal
  16. Speaking at sexual assault conferences
  17. Reading about post traumatic stress disorder
  18. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  19. Learning to say no
  20. Recognizing when exhaustion can turn into depression
  21. Self care
  22. Rest
  23. Anti depressants
  24. Learning about anxiety and depression and how they are cousins and often travel together
  25. Learning how to combat the evil cousins
  26. Finding my voice
  27. Using my voice to share there is hope


Is Peace Attainable after a Life-Threatening Event?

It isn't enough to talk about peace One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

After I was robbed and sexually assaulted in 1990, my body, mind and spirit went into overdrive.  It’s the fight/flight syndrome that’s common when people experience something horrific whether it be a natural disaster, crime, or any life-threatening event. My nervous system stayed in this perpetual state for 20 plus years which unfortunately led to anxiety and ultimately depression. Sometimes, depression would come first and its ugly cousin anxiety would tag along and show up later.  Of course, all this didn’t happen overnight.  It crept upon me little by little and by the time our first daughter Morgan was a freshman at University of Georgia, I was literally a basket case on some days.  I remember one such UGA parents’ weekend that Mark and I were invited to attend.  On the way to Athens in my husband’s truck, I sat beside Mark and begged him to turn around.  I was too exhausted to “fake it.”  I didn’t want to have to pretend to be a happy, proud, normal mother at the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority event.   I was unraveling. He held my hand, told me I was going to be okay, and we made the three-hour drive.  I sat shotgun all the while having intermittent crying spells.

I made it through that weekend (barely), and at times had to excuse myself to find a women’s restroom where I could weep. I’d pull myself together and Morgan never knew a thing.  Upon arriving back home I made two important decisions. I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist and I started attending yoga classes at the Episcopal Church.

Now, seven years later, I still see that same doctor two times a year for a mental maintenance checkup and am a dedicated yogi.  I discovered that what I needed more than anything was to breathe.  Yes…breathe.  I had essentially held my breath and gasped for breath for two decades due to anxiety and fear to the point my nervous system was in ruins.

What I have learned through yoga is that if we quiet our monkey minds and slow our breath, we can retrain ourselves to be calm in the midst of any storm.  We have to learn to be still.  That’s hard for the ones of us living with angst, worry, and panic.

Anxiety and panic are not a part of my everyday being anymore.  I’m not saying I don’t get overwhelmed.  But if I start feeling engulfed with fear and worry , I get myself to a yoga mat.  One session of 30 to 60 minutes has a clearing and calming effect.  And, of course, the more yoga and meditation you do, the better you rewire your brain and the sympathetic nervous system to find healing.

Yoga has changed my life and it can for you too.  The practice of yoga allows us to balance body and mind.  It can energize you, align you to attain both physical and emotional pain relief, and open your heart and inner being to find peace. Do you believe you can find peace?  I do.  But we must commit to seek it every day.

What Were You Wearing When You Were Raped?

I recently was asked to speak to a group of high school girls about violence against women.  As I got dressed for this speaking engagement, I decided on a whim to do something I had never done before.  I would layer my clothing so that I would reveal a strapless dress underneath my maxi dress and reiterate one of the most common rape myths out there — that women “invite” assault by dressing a certain way. The fact is that no one has ever been able to show a correlation between how a victim dresses and her chances of sexual assault.  Women get sexually assaulted because the male wants to dominate and control the victim. It is not an act of impulsive, uncontrolled passion; rather a premeditated act of violence.  Research shows that 50% of rapes are planned; and in my case it was definitely a premeditated violent crime.  Over the years, I too have been asked dozens of times what clothing I had on.

Katherine Cambareri, a young photographer from Arcadia University, has done an excellent job showing that sexual assault has nothing to do with the clothes a woman wears in her “Well what were you wearing” series.  I applaud her for keeping the conversation going regarding this topic.

And, if you were wondering, I was wearing a below-the-knee black and white skirt with matching blouse.



Woman’s Walk Helps Reclaim her True Self


In December, I got an intriguing email from Angela Klocke who asked if she could “walk” in my honor.  Interested and a bit surprised, I asked what this meant.  She explained she leads a project called Scars and Tiaras where she focuses on speaking out and creating awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault.  Angela had read the article about me in The Washington Post and felt compelled to walk on my behalf.  Man!  Talk about being honored….I couldn’t believe a mere stranger would do this.  It proves we do indeed live in a caring world!  My Georgia Southern University intern, Daniela West, did a Q and A with Angela recently, and here’s what Angela shared:

Daniela- So can you tell me what Scars and Tiaras is about? How do you choose who to walk for?

Angela- The site is a combination of  information on healing from a painful history of childhood, domestic or sexual abuse. I have experience with all these types of abuse.  It’s not a pretty story, but the point of Scars and Tiaras is basically a reclamation of self.  To be loved, adored, and worthy. Abusers fill our heads with comments such as: you’re ugly, you’re worthless, you’re stupid so you’re left with scars. The tiaras have more to do with the reclamation of self. The beautiful person that you always were and you’re coming back and realizing who that is. That seems to be a recurring theme–this journey to try to reclaim who each person once was versus what people told them they were.

Daniela- Tell us more about how you walk for people.

Angela- In late 2013 I was out taking a walk and I had this idea when the lyrics “I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more” popped into my head. I developed the goal to walk 1000 miles in 2014.  So I would take a person’s name and I’m always asking may I walk for you.  For Jenny Lynn, I became familiar with her book  through Twitter at some point in time. And though I haven’t been able to read the book yet I just started following her.

Daniela-  So when you walk for someone is there any place in particular you walk, or is it a group event or do people walk with you?

Angela- I mostly walk alone. I’m not opposed to anyone walking with me, but I tend to just walk the streets in my town. I’m not in a position where I’m going to walk a thousands miles away from home. It’s just a concentrated time spent thinking about this person’s story, how can I share this person’s story.

Daniela- I saw on your website people walk in your honor. Do they reach out to you or do you reach out to them to walk for you?

Angela- I haven’t asked anyone to walk for me. In December, it became very apparent I wasn’t going to reach a thousand miles in 2014. I shared my challenges on Facebook and several friends stepped forward and said I would be happy to walk in your name.

Daniela- It’s amazing how much people care. When you walk for people, does it help you in your personal healing process?

Angela- Absolutely. It gives me that chance to not live in the past, but to reflect where I’ve been so I don’t forget that passion and that empathy that’s so necessary to help the next person who contacts me.

Daniela-  What would you say your ultimate goal is?

Angela- My overall goal is to be able to keep the conversation about abuse going.  And for people to understand that it’s not a black and white issue. There’s so much more involved and unfortunately I think for most people unless they experience it they never know how they will respond in that situation.

Daniela- Is there anything you would want someone in that situation to know?

Angela-  If abuse occurs, just know you are not alone and there is somebody out there who can help you. There’s so much hope for healing.