• Dr. Leah Fortson


Releasing those who have harmed us is often the greatest barrier to moving forward. For some reason it is so hard to not just let go of what happened, but to release those who were responsible. In Christian communities it seems you find two extremes - those unwilling to forgive and those unwilling to acknowledge the significance of what happened to them. I have often come across the latter, believers who emphasize Christian community to the fault of ignoring abuse. How can you release those who harmed you if you can’t even acknowledge the fact that you’ve been harmed?

I’ve been surprised by the number of believers who had experienced deeply painful experiences and had no language for what had occurred. They even struggled to acknowledge that it wasn't ok. I spent years in this form of bondage myself; carrying the secrets of the ways I had been mistreated because of a distorted belief I had that as a member of the Body of Christ I couldn’t speak out, I couldn’t share my offense. I few years ago, God blew me away with this revelation - to acknowledge when you’ve been harmed is not an attack on the person who harmed you but rather a recognition of your value. You matter enough to say “ouch!” You are not breaking the bond of community by sharing your offense.

In fact, it is our secret pains that prevent us from healthily engaging in community.

I don’t know how deep your wound goes but the best place to start acknowledging and naming your pain is within communion with God. Would you tell God what hurt and the impact of that hurt? Would you ask God to highlight safe members in your community who can help you move past the hurt? And if these two options seem too scary would you consider inviting a trained professional into your process?

You cannot become all you were destined to be with a wound that hasn’t been tended to.