There is a website called A Campaign for Forgiveness Research. The site states that this Campaign is "an ... effort to deepen our understanding of forgiveness and begin the process of building many different roads to reconciliation." In order to foster healthy relationships through reconciliation, the site has a place for the sharing of personal stories, "...of forgiveness received, offered, or simply observed that may provide inspiration for others." One story stuck with me, a story of sin left unresolved and a cry for help. The anonymous woman writes:
"I would like to seek forgiveness for a very bad choice I made. When I was 17 I left home with my boyfriend and moved to another state. We soon found ourselves starving, with no money and our rent due. We had nothing to eat and all our efforts to find jobs had failed. One day I saw an ad in an alternative paper looking for escorts for gentlemen. I naively thought that that really meant escort -- that I would accompany people to dinners and so forth."
She took the job, later realizing that she was indeed a prostitute. She continues:
"I soon became "trapped" in the lifestyle, needing the money and relying on it, and telling myself it wasn't so bad. My boyfriend knew about it and said he didn't mind. I wish he had, so he could have stopped me. ... I began to realize I had to ... go back home. I couldn't live that way anymore, I couldn't be in that situation. It was so unhealthy and miserable. Since that time I've become really hard on myself. My self-esteem was damaged greatly. I feel different than other people, and feel that if they knew me, they would despise me. I feel worthless, depressed and so forth. I want to forgive myself, and I keep telling myself that it was a bad choice I made, and it doesn't make me a bad person. I was only 17, not thinking really clearly, not experienced in the world.... I've been beating myself up for it for too long. Wish me luck on forgiving myself."
How much "luck" will it take for her to forgive herself?
Is forgiveness only for the lucky?
What would you say to this hurting and confused young lady?
I think pointing her to Psalm 103:1-5 would be a good start:
"Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s."
Young Lady, there is pardon for you! All your sins have been forgiven! You can be healed from the inside out!
Young Lady, your life has been preserved! You have been redeemed - bought back from the bondage of your sinful choices! You have been lifted from the chains of hell and crowned with the love of Christ!
Young Lady, there is provision for you! The satisfaction you have been seeking will be found in Him! You can be renewed in your spirit, restored in hope and re-energized with strength!
Let me ask you, "Have you received His forgiveness?
Do you enjoy your redemption?
Do you find your strength in Him?