Today we continue our conversation with Shana, a woman who suffered violent abuse at the hands of her father.
S: Thank you, Shana, for sticking around for another day. There have been lots of comments on the Encouragement for Today devo. One was, “How do you forgive and start healing?”
Shana: I think at first I was doing what God had asked, but what I was really doing was trying to forgive and saying I forgive my dad but still holding a lot of anger inside.
S: That makes sense. One woman said, “I hurt inside. I’m so angry.” And yet she wants to be free from that anger.
Shana: I was very angry inside. Which showed up in how I treated people and in my relationship with my family. I had to literally stay away from my dad for years.
The more I understood God’s love , grace, and mercy, I started to understand how to forgive. I kept praying and saying, “God, I forgive him, God I forgive him.” It is funny; I think I was trying to convince myself.
S: You were trying to forgive when things were still bad, right?
Shana: It has just been in the last seven yrs that my father has give his life to God and has really tried to live for Jesus. The physical abuse stopped when I got married. The emotional abuse continued until he accepted Jesus.
S: So you were forgiving so that you could be whole, so that you could live free regardless of your dad’s choices. Am I correct?
Shana: Basically, I wake up everyday and choose to forgive just like I wake up and choose to love people.
Joseph’s story in the bible was a huge help to me. He had every reason to hate, and was even put in a position where he could kill his family but he chose to forgive.
I have every right to hate my dad but I choose to love him. God has used my past for good things.
S: I think what you are saying is powerful. You choose to love. You choose to forgive. And as you do, God takes that broken past and turns it into positive — as you love broken children into wholeness, as you find your place in ministry, as you build your family, as you continue to discover who Shana is regardless of your father’s choices and actions. That’s awesome, Shana.
Those who are visiting today might not know you, but I do, and I see Jesus inside of you. Your love for people. The fact that you love Christ so much. The joy you find in a basketball game, in your nephew, in loving Randy and your children.
S: I have one more question. Some might say that your dad didn’t deserve forgiveness. What is your response?
Shana: God showed me that the enemy (through using others) put me in a spiritual prison. Out of fear I began to use deadbolts, chains, and locks on the inside of my walls so no one could get in and keep hurting me.
In Matthew 16:19 it talks about Jesus having the key to the kingdom. Jesus loved me and forgave me, but handed me the key. I had to put my faith in action by using that key to unlock everything. That key for me was forgiveness. Every time I forgave I unlocked a deadbolt until finally I was out of that prison I was put in.
S: Anything else you want to share?
Shana: I live by these principles:
- Forgiveness is just as important to me as salvation cause without forgiveness I couldn’t be saved.
- When I forgive others I am forgiven.
- Forgiveness is not saying what people have done to us is okay. It simply provides the key to unlocking the prison our abusers put us in.
- You can forgive someone before they ever say they are sorry.
S: Thanks, Shana. You are an example of how forgiving truly lets you live free.