On a return flight from Africa, I started conversing with a man after having to switch seats. He was a little reserved, but the conversation seemed to flow easily. There were a lot of empty seats on the flight.
He asked me if my trip had been for business or pleasure and I began telling him about the training that had been accomplished at the orphanage. Intrigued, he asked more questions. Eventually, I ended up sharing my personal story with him. As always, I included being sexually abused and having an abortion.
As I talked about my faith, he revealed that he too, was a Christian.
“Can you tell me something?” he asked as he lowered his eyes. “When did you know that you were forgiven?”
“I assume you’ve been involved with an abortion?” I said, knowing it could affect men just as much as women.
I assumed wrong.
“No…,” he said, “the other…”
My heart immediately knew where the conversation was going.
Reports say that statistically, one in three women has been sexually abused by the time they reach eighteen and one in six men. If my math skills are correct, that means almost one-quarter of the population has been sexually abused. That would, in turn mean, that one-quarter of the population have been the abuser…
“You have sexually abused someone…” I whispered.
“Yes…” he said as one tear then another dropped. “It was a very long time ago. I’ve never told anyone, not even my wife.”
He kept glancing at me, fleetingly…, sporadically, as shame enveloped his whole being. I knew he was looking to see if there was judgment in my eyes. He didn’t find any.
I had gone down this road with many clients. I knew it was extremely important that I not stop gazing at him. His heart would read a message saying, There!!! See!!! You think I’m a bad person. Don’t worry, it’s only a matter of time before my own personal hell totally envelopes me.
“God knows your heart,” I said softly. “He’s been waiting a long time for this moment. You’ve just confessed. And He wants to forgive you.”
He closed his eyes as the tears continued to fall.
I asked if it was possible to go to the person and ask forgiveness. “Although, I have to warn you, she may not be ready to face what has happened.”
“That’s not possible,” he said, his throat constricting as he explained why.
We sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Do you want to ask God for forgiveness? I know you don’t think He will forgive. I know you think He wants to condemn you. But that’s not Him talking… If He could forgive me of killing my own child, do you think He can forgive you for this?”
Within a few minutes, he asked God’s forgiveness as we prayed.
“We were supposed to be sitting beside each other on this flight,” I said soothingly.
“Yes…,” he said as he took in a deep breath.
Some time passed as he regained his composure.
“Can I ask you something? Why did you reveal this to me, of all people?”
“Because, after listening to you, I knew you were safe,” he responded.
Looking back at the feelings that I had as I spoke with this man, I knew it was the moment…it was the moment I knew I had totally forgiven the person who had abused me… I felt no anger or malice, only pity, then total compassion. That’s why he thought I was safe…