I sat nervously waiting. She’s late. Maybe she isn’t coming. Maybe this didn’t need to happen. I take a deep breath and say a short prayer for peace.
Moments later she appeared with a smile on her face. She hurriedly walked toward me and hugged me before I could protest. As we embraced, every part of my body screamed betrayal and hurt.
A flood of emotions hit me in that moment. This woman knew. She knew my pain. She knew my oppression. And she had known my oppressor because it was her son. I sat down and took a deep breath as I stared across the table at a woman, a mother. The mother of the man who had abused me nearly a decade ago.
She had asked to meet with me. I hesitated for weeks before finally saying yes. I believed this was going to be good for both of us in our journeys of healing. It has been a year now since that man’s guilt and shame led him to take his own life. I watched as she slowly spoke, words laced with pain and fear. This woman was grieving. She was grieving over the son she lost and for the man she wished he would have chosen to be.
I sat and listened for nearly an hour. I watched as tears rolled down her face. I witnessed her pain and anguish. I was speechless and damn near close to tears myself when we both stared at a photograph that brought a flood of memories back.
I watched, listened and silently prayed. I felt the presence of God in that moment.
And then it was my turn to speak.
I shared that much had been taken from me. I told several stories, in necessary detail, of the things I had endured at the hands of her son. For the first time this woman showed empathy towards me. Her heart began to soften. I showed her a faded scar. And then I began to describe who I am today. I am no longer a victim. I am not weak. I don’t even call myself a survivor.
But I am a woman of strength.
I have a voice. And its a LOUD one! I know my identity as a beloved child of God and I am unshakable in my belief that love knows no bounds and grace is endless. I have courage, determination and I live to share my voice in hopes that others will see the beautiful image of redemption and reconciliation that only Christ can create.
I am continually on a journey of healing. I am living in wholeness. I am ALIVE.
I walked away from dinner that night determined to continue moving forward. The next morning I woke up and went running. I cried as I ran. But the tears were not brought out by sadness, but of joy and hope. I picked up speed as I ran and had a smile on my face as I thought love has been reconciled.
That meeting, the shared meal between two people who have an entire history together full of pain and anger, that my friends is redemptive. It felt like communion. Breaking bread with a woman I didn’t want to show love to for many years… and yet God had called me to love her like He does!
I don’t understand it. But I trust it. Love is redemptive. Love heals. And love can reconcile even the most broken of situations and relationships. For that I am thankful.