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Home » Abuse (physical - emotional - verbal - sexual - being bullied), Featured Article, Forgiving others/Forgive Yourself, Hot Topics, Tiffany Stuart, Tools 4 Building Your Faith

The Letter That Changed Me

Submitted by on March 9, 2009 – 11:09 am4 Comments

letterthatchangedme
Written by Tiffany Stuart

Cross Post from Ungrind

I sat in front of my computer about to do something I never imagined doing: write a letter to my molester.

A few days prior, my husband casually mentioned his upcoming business trip. I felt sick and angry inside when I heard where. Attached to this city name were memories from thirty-three years ago I’d rather forget.

I never told my parents what happened to me in second grade. Shame kept me quiet until I was in high school. I have no idea why, but one day I casually told a relative what happened. Maybe I needed to be heard and understood. I felt self-conscious sharing what I remembered, like I was making things up.

Not a single tear was cried over my abuse—not during, not after, not ever. When I told a few trusted friends about my past, I emotionally separated myself and told it as a “long, long time ago this happened to me” story. My lack of tears convinced me I was OK. But deep down, I knew better. Hearing a city name awoke something inside of me I buried alive decades earlier. Pain.

I knew I needed to get to the root of my pain. After a conversation with my family, I googled this guy’s full name. I cried what I now call my “death cry” with what I uncovered.

My memories were true.

I wasn’t crazy.

My worst fears realized: This multimillionaire—a repeated sex offender—spent his entire life molesting children! Nothing stopped him. His wealth spared him. And the worst part was I wasn’t his only victim. His track record ripped through state lines like a tornado and left devastation in the hearts of many young boys and girls.

Sorrow and outrage shook me to my core. I wanted to stand up for every child he had ever hurt. I also wanted to die. Now what? Clueless, I sobbed one minute and then walked around numb the next.

For some reason I needed to know if this monster was still alive, so I paid $13.95 to search site to find out. He was! Now in his early 80’s with health issues, he violated probation only a few years prior. Still a sick, sick man!

I had to make a decision. I couldn’t ignore my past any longer. I could either go after this creep once and for all—or let him go. Torn with emotions, I prayed, journaled, and talked with family and friends.

A few days later, I sat alone with my laptop and stared at a blank word document. Time to give this guy a piece of my mind. I prayed, took deep breaths, teared up, and started typing. At first I struggled to find words. What words are strong enough to describe what he did? None. After a page of sharing with him my experience and pain, I decided it was time to say I’m done. As I continued, I asked him hard questions. I even probed into what he might be thinking now as an old man about to meet his Maker. I told him what saved me from destroying myself: my faith in Jesus.

Something amazing happened as I kept writing.

I wrote words I never dreamed of writing. Words about forgiveness and love and the hope of heaven. The strangest feeling came over me as wrote out a salvation prayer and invited him to know my Healer. My heart soared with peace and joy. I felt more alive and full of God’s love than ever before. The weight of unforgiveness after all those years finally lifted.

The next day I sent the letter unsigned with no return address. It was finished. I was free! Who knew I could actually pen words of love and forgiveness to one of the most evil of men?

God did. He gets all the credit.

That day I witnessed a real miracle—a miracle in my heart. The healing power of forgiveness. God in action.

This experience taught me a couple truths I hope I never forget.

Never hold onto unforgiveness. It’s not worth it. Unforgiveness is a heavy yoke.

Forgiveness is hard to do—and sometimes takes decades (in my case)—but it brings freedom. Freedom to heal. Freedom to love.
No matter how bad the offense feels, I’m learning the best path is straight towards forgiveness. Lewis B. Smedes’s quote says it best: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

For over thirty years, I was held captive by unforgiveness. Today I feel the difference. I’m lighter—not physically—but mentally and emotionally and spiritually.

Since this letter, I’ve thought over and over again about Jesus’ words as He hung dying on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). How could Jesus just let these offenders of the hook after all they did to Him? His words make no sense. Did Jesus know something they didn’t? Did His heart soar with peace and joy as He spoke forgiveness? Even as Christ was dying, did He feel completely alive and full of love by releasing His offenders? I bet He did.

God is love! His ways are not our ways.

I also think about how Christ treated the criminal hanging next to Him. Jesus did not say, “It’s too late, buddy. Die without hope.” Instead He said, “See you in paradise.” Not a cold shoulder, but a warm embrace.

Jesus showed us a different way of living. He lived out forgiveness in action. It’s taken me decades to really grasp the benefit of true forgiveness.

I’m thankful for the freedom I now feel with my childhood sexual abuse. I no longer hold unforgiveness in the dark corners of my heart. I no longer cringe inside when I heard that city name. Sure, that city will always have an ugly memory attached to it, but now it has been topped with God’s healing love. I choose to focus on that.

It’s true with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). The letter I wrote is proof of that to me.

4 Comments »

  • megs :) says:

    hey I just wanted to thank you for this. I’m 18 and was raped once, again for 3 years by a friend of my brother’s (no one knew)molested by a teacher, forced to do sexual things with guys, and then sexually abused by my step dad. I can relate to the wanting to never hear the name of a town again (or in my case returning to that town) and I have actually asked to go see some of these guys in Jail. I think writting a letter and sending it would be amazing. And super benefical for those of us who have been hurt in the past. Thank you for the encouragement and blessing you’ve brought by writing this. You truly have inspired me and I just want t thank you for that. I am entering courtship and I think I should get these past hurts out of me before I can get very serious in the relationship. God bless you and I pray there has brought peace to you. – your sister in Christ, Meg’s

  • Emma, thank you for your courage in sharing part of your story here. I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I get angry to know this happens in the church. It’s wrong. It is NOT your fault. I’m sad to hear that you are feeling the pain and the tears still.

    It takes courage to tell your mom and I’m so glad you did. That’s one of the steps you are taking to be free. I’m proud of you.

    I encourage you to keep moving to complete healing. Tears will come, anger may too, but don’t hold back give all your pain to Jesus. He will take it and eventually remove it for good. Not so that you forget, but you will no longer feel the pain from it like you do now.

    I know that is what God wants for you. Freedom. He wants to heal your heart. He wants you free to walk in dignity and no longer ashamed.

    Again, this was not your fault. There are hurting people in the church sometimes, and even ones that need help like the man you mentioned. I’m sorry he did this to you.

    We will never forget the abuse we’ve went through, but we can forgive. Forgiveness frees us and makes room for God’s love and healing to come in.

    Father God, I pray You will walk arm and arm with Emma all the way to freedom. Touch her life with the mark of your perfect love. Mend her broken heart. Give her hope again. Help her forgive this man and in return, use her story to help others. Bless her Lord. In Jesus name, Amen

  • admin says:

    Emma thank you for sharing your comment. It has been forwarded to Tiffany S. and she will be responding soon. You are not alone in your experience. We are praying for you. Never forget that what the enemy means to destroy us our God will turn for our good and His glory. We may not understand it at the time, but we don’t have to remain the victims. We can become more than conquerors throught Christ Jesus. (Gen. 50:20, Romans 8:37)

  • emma says:

    i feel so happy for you tat you could feel forgiveness towards this person who did nothing but hurt you. i experienced something similar too. my pastor also abused me and I still can’t forget those memories. As much as I try i can’t and can’t forgive him. I cry and cry but I cant forget it. I told my mom about this like a month ago and she was angry and sad and she felt betrayed because she asked me why i didn’t tell her that night after the service. i felt like it was my fault and fell so confused as to why a pastor that knew me since i was 5 years would do this to me at the age of 15. i wanted to cry at that moment and run away. he acted as if nothing happened and still had the guts to ask me if he made me feel bad!!!! i want to be free from this memories and forgive.

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