It’s been 10 years since I left the cult and altered the course of my life forever.
At first, I was terrified. I had all the comments swirling in my head telling me I wasn’t following my destiny,
that I was sacrificing my family’s salvation,
that I couldn’t hear from God,
that I was jumping off the deep end,
that I was selfish,
and that I was following the Devil.
The multitude of these comments were crippling.
Even though I had amazing people in my life that came against that talk and spoke life over me, the weight of the cult was so heavy I thought it would drown me at times.
It took me years to dig myself out of it and if I’m being honest I still am.
I thought I had gotten to a place of healing and forgiveness and in a way, I did, but when my initial blog post went live my phone blew up. For days I got message after message after message from those who were affected by this ministry or the leader in some way, shape or form.
These stories were heart breaking in different ways, many of which brought me to tears over and over again. Those feelings of anger and sadness washed over me in a whole new way.
This was unexpected. I had thought that my post would go live and that it would be something talked about in the background or just a place I could send people who asked more details about my testimony. I never expected the level of support I got and I for sure didn’t expect to become a place and person of comfort and camaraderie for those who were also walking their own journey of pain and healing.
When a dear friend reached out because they had found a new level of empowerment by reading my post and wanted to also share their experiences, I opened the door and welcomed them with open arms.
He wanted to do a live with me so people could join in and not only hear his story but hear how healing and growth are possible on the other side of pain.
So, we scheduled it.
We promoted our live on Facebook and Instagram so people could plan in advance if they wanted to join in.
A few days before our live I got a message in my inbox.
A message I never thought I would get.
My heart sank and my hands instantly started to shake.
10 years. It had been just about 10 years since I had any communication with the leader.
Was I ready to face him? Was I ready to stand my ground? Could I even read his message?
I stopped, took a deep breath, and told myself, “You’ve got this.” Yes, I routinely coach myself though hard things. Don’t judge me.
As I read his short message with a small blanket apology, I got angry. Yes angry. I’d love to say I accepted his apology, forgave him and we walked away both singing Kumbaya but that didn’t happen.
I spent the day talking with Godly council, processing with close friends and family, and in the end, I decided to respond. Not out of anger but to be a voice for all those who are hurting.
The next day I woke up early, made my coffee then sat in my office while the whole house was quiet and I started writing.
That’s how long it took me to craft my response. Through tears, frustration, and hurt I finally got to say what I had wanted to for almost 10 years.
I finally spoke up, not only for myself but for many others.
This was the healing step I didn’t know I needed.
My focus had shifted to all the ones who had been vulnerable and shared their stories with me. My heart had gone from sharing my story to wanting to come along side others and help them in their healing journey.
I didn’t realize that coming along side these amazing people would also give me opportunities to find deeper healing for myself.
After I sent my response I felt as if a weight was lifted from my chest. This was a weight I didn’t even know was there.
Was his response to my message what I hopped it would be? No, not even close.
and that’s ok.
He apologized, in a way. Honestly it depends on what your definition of an apology is, and for me it’s hard to classify it as that.
Maybe the hurt is still too fresh for me. Maybe I’m projecting his past character onto his new one. Maybe I’m reading too much into parts of his response or lack thereof. The reality is, it’s been just about 10 years since we’ve had any communication so I can’t really know.
When we’re walking through hurt and trying to find healing it’s natural to pick apart the other party. To focus on all the things they could have done differently or hyper focus on how you wish they would change or own what they did, but we can’t fix them.
The only person that can fix them is themselves. We can’t bring them to a place of owning their wrongs or repentance, only they can.
You get to voice your hurts but then, no matter what their response is, it’s your job to start moving forward. That may sound easy, but I assure you it isn’t.
Here’s why. Sometimes it feels great to say your side and stick up for yourself when you’ve been wronged but when the other party doesn’t acknowledge your hurts, their part in the pain, or admit they were wrong and own it, it can cause a new kind of hurt.
Herriet Lerner says, “A bad apology that deepens the original injury is worse than no apology.”
I agree with her, but the thing is we can’t fix how people do or don’t apologize. We can only focus on our part and our journey moving forward.
When we hold onto unforgiveness it ultimately isn’t doing anything for the other person, it’s just damaging you more and more. So yes, forgiveness should always be a part of your healing process, but
And this is a big but.
It’s ok if it takes time for you to truly forgive someone.
I think the Christian culture has beaten the phrase ‘forgive and forget’ to its death. I struggle with this because as much as I believe in forgiving someone, I don’t think it’s healthy to just ‘forget’.
Now don’t get me wrong. People can change and redemption is possible, but when you have people in your life that continually wrong you, never own their mistakes, and take advantage of you, then simply forgiving and forgetting all their transgressions is unhealthy for you and your future.
This is when you need to set healthy boundaries for your own mental health and stand up for yourself.
This is you saying, no more.
Does this mean you don’t forgive them? No.
Does this mean you need to forgive them right away? No.
When you prematurely forgive someone it does nothing, for you or for the other person. They are just empty words.
Your healing will take time, and I’m here to tell you.. THAT IS OK!
We have to stop believing that one must forgive and forget the second they’re wronged. This is your healing journey, and for it to be authentic it takes time. Period.
Take your time.
See a counselor.
Open up to friends and family.
Be vulnerable, but most importantly,
Do it for you.