Intentional Forgiveness & Racial Wrongs

I have been gifted with a heart that sees no difference in a person based on their skin color or nationality or even their economic status.

The first thing that I notice about a person is whether they are happy or sad, and whether or not their smile reaches their eyes.

Growing up, I was told that I had a “huge, tender heart” and a passion for justice.

The only things that I have ever seen as “black and white” are things that can be categorized as “right and wrong”.

I love diversity and thoroughly enjoy learning from others about their culture and life experiences.  I have intentionally read books which were written by authors that have different life experiences from my own.

I immerse myself in many different genres of music that I might glean even a glimmer of truth about the perspectives of others.

In the Fall of 1997, i was given an opportunity to hate.

In 1998, that opportunity was expanded and it festered to a staggeringly hard force to resist.

Some of you will read this and misuse it as a warped and crooked way to relay more hatred and dissension. May you be rebuked, rebuffed, and changed.

If you read this story and twist it into a weapon of hatred, then your heart is the one that needs change and redemption.

The following is where my story of racial reconciliation and redemption took root so that I could be liberated.

In October of 1997, I was attending a Christian University.  I sang in the (African American) Gospel Choir.  I joined it because it was the first musical experience that I ever had where my heart felt at home and my soul soared with the music.

Originally, when I joined years earlier, I was teased good-naturedly because of how pale my skin is…seriously, I am pale.

I had also served on the Diversity Council during a semester in college.

I had wept my way through the elevated train ride that wound through the projects that were then in existence in Chicago.  I literally wept to see the condition that people were living in after I had just seen the magnificence of the Miracle Mile.

There is no eloquent transition to cushion the harshness of my next paragraphs. I am sorry in advance for my bluntness.

I was raped at a Christian College by a minority man that I trusted and went to church alongside of.  Over the years, he held me when I cried at chapel services.  He went on group dates with me and my friends.

The betrayal of his rape was masked at first by the medication that I was on following a fall and subsequent dislocation of my collarbone.  The medication has since been banned by the FDA for causing blackouts, birth defects, and miscarriage.

My flashbacks about the rape started a few days before i miscarried the daughter that I had no idea I was carrying.

I had recently started working out and running, and I had been on and off of antibiotics, so I just assumed that my body fluctuations were from sickness, exercise and lack of sleep.

Because I had a history of ovarian cysts, I was on birth control; and when I confided in a counselor that I thought I may have miscarried, she reacted with adamant claims that I couldn’t be pregnant while on birth control.

I spun into denial…until that summer when I had a doctor appointment that asked, “Number of pregnancies? Number of miscarriages?”

I had a panic attack in the Dr’s office as everything came crashing back like a flood.

Grief engulfed me like a hurricane.

Guilt burdened me like a pair of concrete shoulder pads.

My heart was ravaged, my innocence was taken, and the child I had longed for yet waited for until marriage had fallen from my womb and I never had a chance to hold her.

I was working at a Christian Camp for the summer when the floodgates of my grief burst open in a deluge.

I was comforted to find a ring that had a Lily on top of a beautiful stone. I had named my daughter Lilly Cherie as part of my journey through grief.

Grief and mourning often cloud our mind and we are held back from wisdom and perception. I confided in a fellow worker about why my ring was so important to me.

They misunderstood me when I said that I didn’t remember all the details, and thought I said that I couldn’t remember who the father of my baby was.

I was the butt of jokes for the rest of the summer.

I would walk into a room and hear a chorus of, “Who’s the daddy?” with laughter mocking me as I went on my way through…often to cry and regain my composure.

Instead of promoting healing by embracing me with grace, certain co-workers added to my heart rending pain and agony.

I took a week away from camp and spent time with my mentors at their Lakeshore home. I was overcome with grief and anger.  They walked me through the beginning stages of intentional forgiveness.

I say intentional forgiveness because everything in me desired at the very least to punch the ones who were mocking my grief and pain.

My mentors challenged me instead to intentionally choose to honestly tell Daddy God how I hurt, who hurt me, and then to fully surrender the pain and desire for revenge to HIM.

It sucked. It just did.

I don’t wish that journey on anyone.

The searing pain of indignation, the agony of their mockery, the gnawing beast of loss and grief that threatened to overtake me, all of it I chronicled in my prayer journals.

My intentional forgiveness came in steps, in seasons, and in moments.

It was and still is a journey.

It was the most deliberate and intentional time of my life.

My heart was raw with grief, until I discovered that His Grace was the renegade of healing that I craved.

I deliberately chose to step into relationships with others of the same minority group that had a member rape me, and then some members mock me and attempt to humiliate me.

I sought friendships anyway, remembering that those who had endured slavery’s atrocities had chosen to trust the Northerners who fought for their freedom.  I remembered stories of Prisoners of War who chose to forgive their captors.

I heard Anne Lamont’s quote that “Not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die”.

It was horrific and humbling all at once.

Intentional forgiveness is the most painful and liberating journey that one can ever embark on.

It takes courage from stores of reserve that you won’t know you possess, that you can’t possess until you look to Him.

You cannot do it alone.

You need a savior to cling to. You need a Daddy God that will receive your honesty, grief and candor as a heartfelt and vulnerable act of worship.

He’s waiting.

Fall on your face if need be. He is the Strong One who sees you, and He will pick you up.

Be real with Him.

He can take it.

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