When you have to forgive someone you hate

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[A note from Wendy: Today I'm lending this space to Mary DeMuth. She is a writer and woman who I respect. She is brave when others shy away and anchored by hope in Jesus despite a difficult past.]

A Guest Devotional by Mary DeMuth

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 
In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. 
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, 
and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 
If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? 
Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 
If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? 
Even pagans do that. Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT)

I have had enemies.

Two enemies in particular were hard for me to forgive because for many years, I hated them. HATED them. They were two teenage brothers who violated me for several months during my kindergarten year. I tried to protect myself, but I could not. I told my babysitter, but she chose to let those boys continue to rape me. (She was an enemy too). 

I met Jesus ten years later, and meeting Him gave me the gumption to tell my sad story. As I let the secret out, I began to heal. Yet, still, I hated those boys, who by now, were men. It took me several years of choosing to forgive them before I could write a very honest letter to them about my journey from anger to peace, devastation to wholeness. Here is me reading that letter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyIkLAMvT8A

I sometimes have angry moments when I think of these enemies, wondering if they are perpetrating still (I don’t know their accurate identity). 

I am a wounded warrior in the aftermath, choosing to once again tell my story of sexual abuse (and healing!) so you don’t feel alone, so you don’t have to face your enemies without company. 

Here’s the truth: if you suffered at the hands of a sexual perpetrator, you are not alone. We are a community of the sexually broken who dare to support you as you work through your anger, bitterness and pain. I wrote Not Marked for you, for the sake of your healing.

Maybe you don’t have my story, but you have suffered in other ways. We all walk with a limp when it comes to being hurt by others. Let’s all join together and pray. Here’s a prayer that may help you process some of your grief:

Jesus, I’d rather not pray for the people who hurt me. To be honest, my heart is petty, not pretty. I want revenge sometimes. I want the people who hurt me to experience hurt themselves. 

But I can’t stay in that place, Jesus, because I know You ask more from me. This passage of scripture makes it utterly clear that You want me to bless those who cause me pain. You want me to be like You, who when You were betrayed, You still called Judas “friend.” 

How do You do that, Jesus? How do you love so well? How did You forgive the people who put you up on the cross?

And even as I pray these words, I realize I put You up on that cross. My sin held you down as You bled for my caustic words, my unrighteous anger, and the things I’ve done that I deeply regret. 

You’ve forgiven a mountain of sin between us. And I have a hard time forgiving the molehill between my friend and me. To love them well, I must let go. Help me remember I’m more like You when I’m offering grace, than when I’m spewing judgment. 

I choose right now to give You my pain in this situation, and I ask for Your help. Please give me love for my enemy. I recognize that I don’t have it in me to do that. But You do. You’re good at it. So I trust You right now. Amen.

{More about the book: Not Marked}
Whether you’re a sexual abuse victim, or you love one, or you want your church to better deal with sexual abuse’s aftermath, or you minister to sex-trafficked victims, Not Marked will succinctly help you understand the issue, give you needed empathy, and provide a pathway toward healing that doesn’t demean, re-victimize, or heap further burdens on the sexually violated. 
Buy a copy here.

{More about the author: Mary DeMuth}
Mary DeMuth is a speaker and author who loves to help people live uncaged, freedom infused lives. She’s written over a dozen books, including Not Marked and The Wall Around Your Heart. Her family planted a church in Southern France, and now they live in the Dallas area. Find out more at marydemuth.com.

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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Photo Credits (Creative Commons): Pink Background: Pink Sherbet Photography Birds: kate e. did Flower: harold.lloyd | Design: Wendy van Eyck  

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