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All in Time

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They say that time heals all wounds. But how much time are “they” talking about? And what kind of wounds? My daughter—my beautiful, innocent, teenage daughter—was attacked. “Attacked”—the polite way of saying my daughter was raped. Thirteen years ago, in a deserted area far from any help, her life was brutally changed. And there was nothing I could do about it. That thought still causes me to wake up at night in a cold sweat, torn between tears of grief too great for words and anger too scary to admit to others.

It is a mother’s instinct to protect her young. That instinct caused me to resign from my job when my daughter was born. I cherished every moment spent with her. I kissed her hurt fingers, wiped away her tears and held her close whenever the ways of the world hurt her tiny soul. But there are some horrible parts of our world from which no loving, earthly arms can shield.

That “horrible part” put a wedge between my daughter and me—each of us afraid of saying something to make it even worse (as if that were possible). But after time, in some strange way, we bonded even more as mother and daughter. We stopped trying to protect each other and instead realized that we shared a common pain—a pain that no one else could understand. It was us against the world, and the world of “rape” is silent and lonely. But little by little, words and emotions began spilling out and drawing us closer.

Life went on for her as best as could be expected; she graduated from high school and then went off to college. But the devastation of the rape continued to take its toll. It was hard for her to concentrate, and this once-honor student suddenly found herself on academic probation. With a semester taken off here and there to clear her head, a degree that should have taken 4 years to complete was still incomplete after 11.

But all the while she continued to seek healing. She wanted to act in plays again. She auditioned and ultimately got the part she wanted: a rape victim. I couldn’t understand why she decided to do this until I attended opening night.

Tears streamed down my face as I watched her on stage and realized she wasn’t really acting. She was reliving the night that changed the trajectory of her life . . . of my life. My hands trembled as I read her dedication in the play’s program— to the boy who caused all this. She forgave him? How could she? How could she leave me all alone to suffer in my grief and devastation? Because I wasn’t ready to forgive!

My daughter knew what she had to do to move on. Only by forgiving could she let go of the very thing holding her back. This boy had destroyed her life, but no longer! There is a peace about her now. Life, she says, is good. “Experiences, for whatever they are, mold you into the person you were meant to be,” she tells me. I can see she is a different girl than she was before “that night.” She is now a woman who is able to take on whatever life hands her. Because she persevered through something most people never expect to endure, my daughter is stronger and more confident.

I often lie awake at night and wonder what kind of woman she would have become had she not experienced this tragedy. Would she be better? Happier? But that isn’t the thought that jolts me out of a sound sleep. I still have nightmares. Anger. Overwhelming sadness. Guilt—that I should have been there to protect her even though I know it was impossible. Yet, I want to forgive as she did. I want to release the hate. I want the anger to stop controlling my life. I want to have that night erased as though it never happened.

Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes to what I need. Please give me the gift of forgiveness.

Past Alliance Life Issues

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