*Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic details of child molestation.*
To be a christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God forgave the inexcusable in you.
I was twelve when my dad left my mom. To be honest, I really don’t remember what life was like before the divorce. I don’t remember the good or the bad. Everything’s a blur. And there are parts of the story after the divorce I often wish I could magically blur away.
After my dad left, my mom checked out emotionally on me and my brothers. She started role-playing on AOL chat rooms. She retreated to a world she could create and control, which left little supervision for us.
It was the first time I was molested. In the beginning, he watched me from a distance. I’m not sure if he knew I noticed him doing it, but I did and it made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t do or say anything about it because I didn’t think anything would come of it. I just thought he was being a teenage pervert. But next thing I knew, my brother was waking me up in the middle of the night touching me and himself simultaneously.
I knew it was wrong, so I told my mom. She talked to him but it didn’t stop him. I even told our baby sitter once. Same song, second verse. She talked to him too but it still didn’t stop. I told at least one more person, but as you might have guessed, they just talked to him. I think he got off on the fact that no one was actually stopping him. Eventually, I gave up telling people. I stopped asking for help, and just prayed for a miracle. Anything to make him stop. I even remember praying he would die.
I quickly learned that it didn’t matter where we were, he wasn’t afraid to try things. No place was off-limits to my brother. We were out of town with my Grandfather and some cousins, visiting our great-grandmother. My Grandfather, other brother, and cousins were sleeping upstairs, my great-grandmother was in her room. I was in the living room with my older brother on the hideaway sofa bed. I tried to sleep on the other couch but my grandfather didn’t want to make two separate beds.
I already knew what was going to happen before we even ate supper that night. I braced for the inevitable. We went to sleep and I prayed nothing would happen.
Well, it happened. But that night was different.
That was the first time he tried having sex with me. He was convinced he had actually done the deed. I’ll never forget what happened next. My brother leaned over, looked me in the eyes and said, “Congratulations, you’re no longer a virgin.”
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I wanted to vomit. The one person I thought was going to protect me from the evil of this world, brought it to my front door.
I died that night.
After that experience, my whole mentality changed. I knew that what had happened was not my fault. I tried to stop it but the people I told failed me and my innocence. It didn’t matter. I trusted no one, not even myself, and I quit caring for myself and other people.
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I was going to do whatever I want and no one could tell me otherwise. That’s how I lived until I was twenty. I had an encounter with messy grace in Panama City Beach, FL, drunk off my ass. In the midst of my brokenness, Jesus rescued me.
There’s a Shane and Shane song called “Your Love”. The chorus goes like this:
Your love tears me up
And when it’s done puts me together.
After a couple of years, he eventually stopped. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t care. My miracle finally happened.The healing process has been hard, slow, and unlike anything I could imagine. I have had to work through so much anger and bitterness. Even hatred. My own brother ripped out my heart and shredded it to bits. But my Redeemer glued it back together. Jesus is continuing to heal me. God is making me whole.
Messy grace has replaced my broken heart with a brand-new one and allowed me to feel human for the very first time.
I still see my brother at family functions, when he attends them. When I see him at those dear ol’ family functions it’s really hard not to neuter him with a dull butter knife. Like I said, healing and forgiveness is a process.
Everyday I have to intentionally make the decision to move past all this mess and forgive him. Some days are easier than others, but I know this: forgiveness is better for me than anger. I can’t live another day holding onto the bitterness it caused me all those years. The rage literally ate me alive. And who am I to deny someone forgiveness when I’ve never been denied grace?
I haven’t told anyone in our family what happened. I’m pretty sure it would cause more harm coming out than me just keeping it between me and God and saying, “Take care of this, Father.” My husband knows though and he respects my decision. God has actually used my marriage to help me in the healing process. I have also found healing by sharing my story with a few people, when I feel compelled to do so. Their response is always the same. It starts with total shock. I know how crazy this story sounds. He is my brother.
Messy grace doesn’t always make sense. Especially when it’s someone as close as your brother. People ask me how I can even look him in the face after what he did. All I can say, simple and profoundly is, God. Cliche’, I know, but it’s true. I started praying that God would help me see my brother through the eyes of Grace. And He has. God has helped me see my sibling’s brokenness and now, because God has opened my eyes, I’m at a place where I can allow God’s love to flow through me, even to him.
I love him. And I would genuinely be sad if anything happened to him. But I love him at an arm’s distance.
I may never know why my brother did what he did. But I forgive him. I pray he’s asked for God’s mercy. I can’t imagine the load of shame he is living under if he has half a conscience, but that is not my burden to bear.
There are a few basic lessons I hope you take from my story: Don’t hold onto your anger; it will destroy you from the inside out. Walking in forgiveness is a daily choice. But boundaries are a top priority. I forgive my brother, but do I trust him? Hell no. And the biggest lesson of all: don’t deny someone else forgiveness, even if they never offer an apology. Even if my brother never asks for it, it’s already his.
*This is part of the “This is My Story” series. Click here for more.
*If you suspect child abuse, contact the ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline immediately at 1-800-4-A-Child.