What is forgiveness?

When I first became a Christian I was perplexed by the Scripture verses in Matthew 18:21-22, ““Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”” (NLT).

I didn’t know for sure what was meant by “forgive someone”—does that mean we pretend that nothing ever happened? What if the person justified the actions and was not really sorry for what happened? Should I still forgive?

When I was 5-years-old, my older half-brother, age 15, started to molest me. He did this until I was about 7-years-old. My mother married my stepfather and he started to molest me when I was 9-years-old—this lasted until I was 13-years-old.

My half-brother and my stepfather never asked to be forgiven; in fact, my half-brother justified what he did—“brothers and sisters do these things.” How could I forgive that?

As I continued to read my Bible, I discovered another Scripture verse: “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive” (Luke 17:3-4).

The words, “believer,” “repentance,” and “asks forgiveness” jumped out at me– these passages really didn’t apply to my situation.

Then I read Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Does this mean that if I don’t forgive these two that God will not forgive me? But how could I forgive someone who didn’t even ask for forgiveness?

Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Even though there was no remorse from these two, I had to forgive them. To me, this meant I had to release the anger and hurt that I felt. If I held on to the anger then it would slowly kill me, and I wouldn’t be able to fully worship God because I would have this ugly thing between Him and me.

It wasn’t easy to forgive. It took many years of anguished prayers, but one day I realized that I no longer had anger or hurt. I knew then that God had healed me, and in my heart I had forgiven them. Maybe one day they will turn their lives over to God and He will forgive them too. God is good!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Power of Prayer

In the morning I’ll be participating in the Bashful Ostrich 5K for the second time in two consecutive years. The run benefits survivors of sexual abuse. I think sexual abuse is such a prevalent sin. Our society is very sex-centered— it seems that sex is used to advertise almost all merchandise and all we ever hear on TV is sex.

I don’t know what really causes people to sexually abuse others, but I know what the Bible says about humans: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

I know there are many people who have suffered from this type of abuse. They are wounded souls who long to be free of the emotional pain that haunts them. I think it’s good that they talk to someone like a counselor, but I think the only way they can be truly free is to allow God to heal them.

I used to cry whenever I thought about the years of abuse I encountered as a child. I wanted so badly to be free of those memories. I prayed continually but it seemed like God didn’t hear me.

Then after about 30 years of emotional torment, I woke up one day and realized that God had released me from my miserable state. I no longer cried when I talked about the past—my memories were not daggers twisting in my heart anymore.

I remember when I encouraged a small group of women to build on their relationship with God. One woman tearfully asked how I could go on without feeling hurt from my past. All I could tell her was to keep praying and never lose hope that God will heal her.

James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray” (NASB). Luke 11:9-10 tells us, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened” (NASB).

God answers prayers. Your prayer may not be answered tomorrow or next week, but if you are persistent in your prayer then He will answer. It took almost 30 years for my prayer to be answered, but I am so thankful that I did not give up—that I kept praying to God for relief. God is so good.

I think God didn’t answer my prayer right away because praying brought me closer to Him. The process of praying strengthened my faith in Him, and it was a reassurance to me that I truly believed in Him.

The nearly 30 years of praying and waiting changed me. It was like I was in a washing machine for that whole time. I wasn’t placed in the “quick cycle,” but the “extra clean cycle.”

Satan can no longer use the pain of my past to keep me down. I now pray for the people who sexually abused me. I am hoping that God will change them and that they will repent and ask Him for forgiveness.  God can do anything because “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). Thank you, God!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Yesterday was a tough day

Yesterday was a tough day for me. Not only did it hurt swallowing but my ears were hurting and the scabs in my throat made me cough. I nearly gagged taking the liquid children’s Tylenol. I think the pain isn’t as bad this morning, in fact I decided not to take Tylenol until I absolutely need it.

I still have discomfort when I swallow but it feels like a “regular” sore throat now. My ears hurt like I have an ear infection, but that’s about it. I still can’t open my mouth very wide to see what my throat looks like. The last time I looked, my throat on the left and right sides were covered with a white layer of scab—I guess that’s a good sign. I haven’t had any bleeding, but I heard that eventually the scabs will peel off—hopefully I won’t bleed then.

I guess I am amazed at my recovery so far. I’ve read other people’s accounts of their tonsillectomy and it’s pretty scary. I know there were lots of people praying for me and I think that’s the reason why I am healing so quickly. It’s been only three days, and supposedly the worst pain is between days 5-10 so I am hoping that it will be different for me—that the pain will not be as bad.

I’ve been thinking about Job a lot. In Job 2:8 it says, “Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” I felt like that yesterday—just wanting to feel better but couldn’t—I felt like crying because of the pain I was feeling.

I know that it was good for me to have my tonsils removed, but I keep wondering “why now?” I know everything happens according to God’s timing, but I still don’t know why I had to have them removed now; although this past week was an ideal time since my schedule is so light—maybe that’s why?

All I know is that I am not alone. God is helping me through this. I know that it was only a tonsillectomy, but the pain can be excruciating and I think this is the closest I have ever felt like “suffering.” I am praying for God’s peace and comfort for those who suffer on a continual basis.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti