Warning: The following story may be disturbing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.
Some days, the haunting memories of the past are a real struggle. It’s enough to make anyone emotionally constipated. Forgiveness is the last thing that I want to do.. I’d rather vomit in a coffee cup and drink it with my breakfast..
My mother doesn’t deserve forgiveness. My brother and I went to her as toddlers, terrified and distraught. We told her about being coaxed into a box car on the railroad tracks. Our little souls in chaos as we cried and struggled to breath, searching for the words to explain what happened, to explain how we were violated and raped of our innocence. To explain all the grown up things we were yet to understand.
We stood in front of her traumatized, looking for a place to put our pain only to have her shame us, and place the blame on us, telling us that we were bad, making us feel immoral.
The same mother that promised she’d tell our father because he’d take of care of things. Calling both my brother and I liars, 30 years later, on the day my father learned of the repulsive rapes – detail after detail, in a court of law.
The same mother that condoned my being passed around and abused time after time, man after man, year after year. Forgiveness – I do not feel she deserves!
J Jr., P Jr., J and M F, Uncle Bill, Fred……………….none of these sick child rapists, with their perverse minds, vile hearts and filthy hands deserve to be forgiven! I’m not even sure they are worthy of living in hell.
My brother who continues to lie, cheat and steal his way through life as he protects our mother and covers up the crimes of these rapist, allowing them to live among us does not deserve to be forgiven!
Forgiving them would be a total injustice to me.
I’m angry at what they’ve done to me and I’m angry that God feels they deserve forgiveness. I’ve been at odds with Him on this issue for years.
One time, years ago, I was sitting in church when Brother Copeland, the pastor, told the congregation about a baptism he would be doing the following week. I’d never been baptized or witnessed a baptism before but I had been attending church on and off for years trying to sort out the battle going on in my head.
Behind Him, at the altar, was a huge pool of water. It was chest deep and Brother Copeland explained that God saw baptizing by immersing people in water as the most powerful way to save his followers, all of those that believed in Him and recognize that they needed to be saved from their sins, knowing they were in need of His grace. People were submerged under the water, surrendering, dying to their old way of life, coming up and out of the water to a new life, washed of their sins and dedicated to Him, receiving everlasting life.
That’s the basics of what Brother Copeland said but what I heard was, “If you believe in God and that Jesus lived and died for you, you can get dunked in this pool of water and come out with your slate wiped clean, forgetting all of the abuse that you have suffered, the abusers, the pain, the heartbreak, forever living happy, forever being loved, through eternity”.
I know, messed up, right?
Also in my mind, I considered those that would witness my baptism. At this point no one knew of all those years I had suffered being raped and I’m thinking that big things are going to happen when I am submerged in that water, like fireworks, the sky opening, the angels singing praise and possibly even an apocalypse when the evil that has been bestowed on me releases inside that church. Big things were going to happen – a miracle was going to take place. I miracle I would miss being under that water.
I really wanted that life, the life that Brother Copeland spoke of, I twisted in my seat trying to be patient, waiting to talk to him and when the service was over I told him that I wanted to be baptized. I ask that he put me on the list. I desperately wanted the life he talked about.
The day came and I suddenly felt like superman wearing a cape. I was going to have the life that I always wanted. My heart was beating out of my chest when I put on that baptismal robe and descended the stairs in that pool of water where Brother Copeland was waiting on me. I remember that he spoke a few words but I don’t remember exactly what he said because I was so focused on the water and wondered if it had salt in it. I wanted to keep my eyes open when I was under water. I wanted to see the miracle – I didn’t want to miss any of it – the fireworks, the angels and even the apocalypse that was surely going to happen.
The time had finally come; I was going to have all those things that I had prayed so hard for over the years. Brother Copeland placed one hand on the back of my head and the other over my nose as I braced myself for what was to come. I held my eyes wide open as the back of my head hit the water and the silence of the room was replaced with the sound of lightning followed by an electrifying BOOM and profound voice clearly saying, “YOU MUST FORGIVE FIRST, KERRI’. It was God and He was talking directly to me.
I came out of the water mad that day, a small piece of me wanting to take down the whole church with my bare hands, no kidding. But I had to acknowledge what had just happened. I had never considered forgiving them. I just wanted back all those life’s blessings that had been taken from me. I didn’t understand – I just wanted to feel alive. I’d been praying for years and thought being baptized was my answer. I had no idea how to forgive or even where to start.
I’m still fighting that battle today, still a soldier in my very own war. The war within myself, the prison where I’m held captive, chained and kept hostage by the shame and the disgrace of the old memories and violent acts that they have committed against me, memories that rape and torture me over and over again, day after day.
But as I lay here, I realize that fireworks did take place that day and I saw them. Angels did sing and I did hear them. Mass destruction of evil did take place. Big things did happen – The miracle I had so badly wanted to witness was heard in the voice of God when he spoke directly to me. He spoke directly to me and I heard him!! My miracle did happen! God is fighting for me.
For as long as I can remember I have had it in my heart to rise above and be better than where I have been but today I will take that to the highest of highs and focus all my energy on forgiving them.
From this moment on, every time I think of them or the evil things that they have done, I will stop and pray for them and ask God to give them the same strength that He has bestowed upon me so they are able to rise above the evil that consumes them. That is what I will be fighting for. I will be fighting for love.
God loves them just as much as he loves me and that’s the kind of love that I want to put in the world. Not just put in this world but surround myself with and if forgiving them gives me that – I will forgive them.
From the personal journal of Kerri Bishop Reece written May 17, 2002