Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunday Sermon

About a year out of high school, I was raped by the room mate of my boyfriend at the time (boyfriend became my first husband). Many women who experience that type of trauma never make it out of their psychological/ emotional/ spiritual prisons. I am grateful to have made it out of mine.

Many Christians are familiar with this passage in the Holy Bible:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? til seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

-St Matthew 18: 21-22
Immediately following that passage, Jesus goes on to tell the Parable of Forgiveness and Compassion. A master chooses to sell off his servant, whom owed a great deal of money to his master. The servant pleads for forgiveness and promises to pay his debt in full. The master is filled with compassion and forgives the debt.

The same servant went to a fellowservant that owed him money and demanded payment. The fellowservant had no means to pay him and the servant had him jailed until such debt was fulfilled. When their peers saw what was done, they went back to their master to tell all that had transpired.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me;
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

-St Matthew 18:32-35

I reported the incident to the police and was quickly referred to a detective in Honolulu. He took a full statement, sent me to Kapi'olani Women and Children Center for a full battery of tests. Within several weeks, my case was sent to a grand jury. The Grand Jury and the Honorable Judge James R. Aiona (current Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii) determined that there was enough evidence to prosecute my offender. The anger, the turmoil in my soul was overwhelming. I endured this part of my life alone, in the deserts of New Mexico where I lived for a short stint. One enters extreme spiritual darkness when the focus of your grief is "why me". With this victim attitude, the State of Hawaii subpoenaed me and I was to testify against my offfender. I returned to O'ahu with the express intent of putting my offender into the same bleak wasteland as I was experiencing. This attitude was evident in my sworn testimony on the stand. I cried. I yelled. I expressed my anguish in front of my offender, the Judge, and the 12-person jury.

The jury returned, hung, nine of them finding him guilty. Three, not guilty. This shocking turn of events sent me back into a wretched awfulness. I spiraled into a constant state of victim. My life was void of joy and I felt utterly helpless in my unpleasant journey. Within several months, I would find myself back in the court room. The State Prosecutor, it seemed, wanted so much to see my offender be punished for his crime against me. He retried the case in front of a different set of jurors.

An amazing thing happened between the first trial and the second trial. The Young Adult program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints happened to me. Prodding me ever so gently into the light, my brother assisted me into full activity in the Mormon church. Through the healing powers of Jesus Christ, my heart was softened. I grieved. I mourned the passing of innocense and I cast all my burdens onto the willing shoulders of the Savior.

When the second trial commenced, the spiritual prison from which I emerged was just a memory, and my testimony on the witness stand had changed considerably. Gone was my angered outbursts and bouts of tears. All I felt was a complete and overwhelming desire to forgive the man who had offended me. While on the witness stand, I looked him in his eyes and forgave the offender.

Forgiveness is not for the one who has offended. Forgiving my offender was all about me unburdening myself from the hate that was sure to consume me. Overcoming that dark time in my life was finalized by my ability to forgive him his debt against me. Though my offender was not repentant of his misgivings, one day he will be. When that day comes and he is filled with great sorrow, he will remember my unconditional act of forgiveness and maybe he will be able to apply that into his own life. In the second trial, a jury of my peers set my offender free. He was found not guilty and I'm okay with that.

Having had to experience this trial required me to dig really deep into my soul and to find a peaceful place to allow the healing powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to work through me. I'm glad that I had risen to the task. I am grateful that the Lord deemed me worthy to endure such awful gloom and rise above it.
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

-Doctrine and Covenants 122:7


Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much said...

"And He will heal those who trust Him,
And make their hearts as gold."
(Consider the Lilies of the Field)

"Love or Perish" - W. H. Auden said...

thank you for sharing this with us...i am really touched by your ability to let God heal you and help you forgive...all your triumphs make me believe you are one of those esteemed "phenomenal women"