I was standing at the stove preparing dinner, when I received a telephone call letting me know that my niece had been molested by her stepfather, repeatedly. My niece was only seven years old when the abuse was discovered.
A young friend of our niece's had told her mother after a sleepover that the stepfather had tried to involve her as well in his actions. The mother reported the incident to the police, and the stepfather was in custody when I got the call.
I had never been overly fond of this man. I had tried to see his good qualities, but it was difficult, because he didn't exhibit many. Whenever he came to our home, he was uncomfortable. His behavior was strange, but we tried to be kind and include him.
I've learned the importance of loving the truth of each individual and to understand that the evil they express is not actually part of them but something they're being manipulated by. Forgiveness isn't ignoring the evil but separating it from the individual. There would be no one left on earth if all of the evil that people exhibited were destroyed along with the people expressing it.
I considered myself a forgiving person until this heinous crime aroused such anger and hatred in me. I felt that I had a right to hate this man. My strong desire to protect my niece seemed justified. Revenge was my first reaction.
When I hung up the phone and let the power of these feelings swell, I inadvertently put my hand on the hot stove and badly burned it. The correlation to the "burned up" attitude and my throbbing hand was immediately clear as a bell. Now what? I really didn't want to forgive this man; I hated him. But the pain in my hand was telling me that hatred is an inflamed state of thought that does no one any good, least of all me, at that point.
With an open mind and a willing heart and my hand in a towel, I turned to God for direction. As I listened, my thoughts became more peaceful. The pain began to subside. An image of this man as a little child came to me. I was aware that he had also been a victim of abuse as a young child. Hatred and ignorance were now victimizing him. He was acting out a pattern of actions he had been mistakenly taught. The impersonal nature of sexual abuse became clearer. I didn't have to be a victim of abuse by believing that it was part of either this man or my niece. God didn't create a twisted mind or a victim. His intelligence maintains His spiritual creation in perfect love and harmony at all times. I could be lifted by God's grace to see the truth of the situation. I could see more of what God has created.
I know that my niece is more than a body with a mind inside. She is a beautiful individual expression of innocence and joy. My love for her made it easy to see that her Godlike nature was intact. The Godlike qualities she possesses can't be touched by a twisted or perverse concept of love. Hatred and anger began to fade and give way to compassion and love. I became part of the solution instead of the problem.
With tenderness instead of hatred in my thought, I could help bring to light comfort and practical steps for my niece and her family. Within a few days, my hand healed without scarring. The stepfather was sent to prison and was permanently removed from our lives. Needed healing and perspective appeared in loving and natural ways. My niece is a balanced adult with children of her own.
Victims of abuse can best extinguish the flames of hatred and manipulation, expressed in acts of violence and other forms of aggression, through acknowledging the invisible spiritual reality of clear and pure spiritual innocence. We can do this right in our own thought.
The place to begin is with simple everyday experiences, such as having more patience with the driver who cuts us off, the angry customer, or our neighbor's barking dog.
Instead of indulging anger and righteous indignation fighting fire with fire we can make our mental home a place where the fire has nothing to burn. Both victim and aggressor are being used by unintelligent evil, which can be dissolved through intelligent, all-powerful Love, the Love that is God. With one thought at a time, our world can become a better place to live.