Sunday, April 30, 2006

An open letter to the man who raped me

I guess I could call this the end (at least for now) on my series of blogs about Radical Obedience. It's been about 3 weeks since I started the healing process of praying for the man who raped me as well as for the courage and strength to forgive him while crocheting an lap afghan for him. The process has brought back a lot of painful memories, but that's been a good thing because it uncovered a lot of festering issues that I thought had been resolved ages ago but that had in reality become only more deeply entrenched. Denial is a very dangerous disease!

My best friend was a surgical technician at one time, and she often talks about the dangers of staph infections that can occur any time the skin is broken. If that infection goes untreated, it can cause severe damage or even death to the affected tissues and may require additional surgery to clean out the original site of infection and the surrounding areas that were impacted.

It occured to me that we can also develop spiritual staph infections when we allow anger, resentment, bitterness and especially unforgiveness to go untreated. Often, these spirital infections spread to our emotions. If our emotions are infected, our thoughts, our actions, our words, our dreams, and even our physical bodies can also be infected. As with a bodily staph infection, we sometimes need to undergo the pain of spiritual surgery to clean out the wounded areas so that we can be healed. That's what this process has been like for me.

Now that it is finished, I feel a sense of peace that I haven't known for a long time. I feel free of the emotional baggage that I've carried for so many years. I feel an even greater resolve to be radically obedient to God, no matter how impossible the task may appear, because this experience has once again proven that through God, all things work together for good.

Below is the text of the letter that I wrote to Keith along with the afghan. I'm making arrangements for it to be sent to him through the prison ministry at Joyce Meyer Ministries. Not only am I praying for his salvation, but I ask that you pray for him as well.

May 2006

Dear Keith,

You may not remember me, but I remember you. In February 1979, you and Robert raped me in the back seat of a rental car. It’s been 27 years and I still can’t understand how you could have done what you did to me and all those other women, but I realize now that trying to understand why you did it is pointless. I’m not even sure if you could answer that question. Even now as you’re reading this, I wonder if you feel remorse for what you did to me, or whether you feel rage about what I did to you when I testified against you to make sure that you’d never be able to hurt another woman again.

The night you raped me changed my life forever, in ways I could never have imagined then. The only thing that has remained constant, whether I chose to accept it or not, was God’s amazing love for me. Recently, as I have developed a much stronger personal relationship with Christ, I understand that God has a purpose for each of our lives. I’ve learned that even in tragedy, there are opportunities for growth and for grace.

Recently, God has led me to form a knitting ministry to help heal hearts that are hurting. It’s not hard to knit things for women fighting breast cancer or for women who’ve lost their husband or their baby. But God told me that wasn’t enough. His love, grace and comfort extend beyond those innocent broken hearts and is also available to people like you. Just as I pray for others who are hurting, most of whom I don’t even know, God expects me to pray for those who have hurt me too. And that definitely includes you. Enclosed is an afghan that I made for you. In it are my prayers for you and for your soul. This afghan is also my way of letting you know that I have forgiven you. It doesn’t matter to me whether you want my forgiveness or not, the act of forgiveness is just as much for the forgiver as it is for the person being forgiven. Now that I have forgiven you, I am emotionally free to move on. I chose not to carry around the emotional baggage of my anger and bitterness towards you anymore.

I will never understand the depths of rage that you must have been living with to have done the things you did. I can’t imagine how awful the last 9,000+ days in a maximum security prison must have been for you, especially with the knowledge that you will spend the rest of your life there. But there is one thing that I do know, as miserable as your life may seem, it is nothing compared to the prospect of spending eternity in Hell.

If you haven’t done so already, I pray that you will open your mind and heart and accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. God loves you and is waiting to forgive you and to give you His unfaltering love. The Bible says that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with you mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

God is ready and waiting for you to come to Him in prayer. You can tell Him in your own words, or you can say a simple prayer like this one:

"Dear God, I know that my sin has separated me from you. Thank you that Jesus Christ died in my place. I ask Jesus to forgive my sin and to come into my life. Please begin to direct my life. Thank you for giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen."

Receiving Christ means acknowledging your belief in Him, inviting Him to come into your life, turning away from your present way of living (repentance), and looking forward to experiencing life under God’s loving direction. God can change even the hardest of hearts and can bring you peace, even in your present circumstance. But more importantly, accepting Christ assures that you will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.


Mary said...

May the healing that has begun in you extend to him, and may God's power work in his heart.

Shelley said...

I second what Mary has to say. You've done well in your obedience to the Lord, and also in witnessing for Him to Keith. I have also said a prayer for him with regard to this.

Eleni said...

Wow. I will pray for you and for him. May God Bless you and keep you always.

del said...

I don't know how I stumbled across your blog, but you are very brave. Very brave. I don't know that I'd have the courage to do what you've done. God bless you.

purple_kangaroo said...

Wow. What a powerful letter and post. Thanks for sharing it.

Azurewings said...

This is such an important message for anyone else out there who is trying to be brave, or making their best effort to seem healthy and happy, either in front of others or to themselves, when perhaps they have "unfinished business". Choosing love, despite what one believes or feels, is an act of god. True humility seems to be the result of seeing one's own divine essence, not just seeing the divine nature in others. I'm moved at your willing acceptance of this human being, and I am very happy for you, Sid.