Healing the Hateful Heart
A woman learns to cut loose the ties the bind. by Lynne Collins* as told to Muriel Larson
I was twenty when it happened. One evening I was washing dishes in the kitchen sink. The sound of the television in the living room kept my baby content; I could hear him banging his toys. My husband, recovering from surgery, lay sleeping under a sedative in our bedroom.
This was my home; I felt secure in it. The curtains were open, the front door unlocked.
Suddenly I saw a big black hand clamp on my eyes. Another grasped my throat, cutting off the blood supply to my brain. I saw stars, then blacked out.
As the man dragged me down the hall, his clutch on my neck loosened slightly, and I came to. Then I blacked out again.
When I revived, I was lying on the bed in our guest bedroom. The man held a knife at my neck as he tore off my jeans. Fear paralyzed me.
"Stay still, lady," the man rasped softly, "or I'll kill you!"
As he assaulted me, he said, "When I get through, woman, I'm going to kill you."
"Oh, please," I pleaded, "in the name of Jesus, don't kill me. My baby needs me!"
When he finished with me, I thought, I could die right now! Oh, God, I commit my spirit to You!
The next moment, I wasn't in my body anymore. I was up in the corner of the room, looking down on the man and my apparently lifeless body. Another Being was with me, and I felt peace. I knew that whatever happened to my body, I would spend eternity with God one day.
The man must have thought I was dead. He ran out of the house, and immediately I returned to my body. I screamed and wailed at the outrage of what had happened.
My husband called the police. All I could do was cry uncontrollably.
During the days that followed, I felt like a dirty prostitute. Undeserved feelings of guilt assailed me, and rage filled my soul. Nightmares tormented my sleep. Night after night, I dreamed I held a gun in my hand and shot that man repeatedly, even when his body lay on the floor.
I was fortunate enough to be married to a strong man, a solid Christian. "Why can't you get over this, Lynne?" he asked me one day.
"I hate that man!" I cried. "I hate him, hate him, hate him for what he did to me!"
"Well, you can't hate him," John said matter-of-factly. "You're a Christian. In hating him, you're only hurting yourself, so you have to forgive him. Lynne, God is in charge of your life. He permitted this to happen, and somehow I believe He will work it for good. So thank Him for that experience. That way you will be able to get over your anger and bitterness and get on with your life."
"There's no way I can do that, John!" I cried. "I just can't see God allowing this."
Anger at God
I was furious not only at that man but also at God. "God," I cried bitterly, "we have faithfully served You, going to church regularly, seeking a closer relationship with You, witnessing for You. What happened just doesn't make sense to me! Why did You make me a woman?"
John knew this hostility and bitterness would damage me emotionally, physically, and spiritually if I allowed it to continue. It could ruin our marriage and taint our son's life too. So John kept trying to persuade me to deal with the experience in a biblical way.
Finally, after two weeks of nightmares, sleeping and waking, I gave up. "OK, honey," I agreed, "I'll try what you say."
Weeping, I bowed my head. "God," I whispered, "thank You for Your presence during that experience. I believe You will use it for good. I forgive this man. And I ask You to forgive him too. Please heal my attitude and take away the anger. I turn the whole thing over to You. In Jesus name, amen."
As I prayed this, a terrible war raged within me, as if something yelled, "No, you can't do that. Be angry . . . be mad!"
But as I finished praying, a measure of peace poured into me. Later that day, God led me to a verse in the Bible: "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18, NIV). I felt God leading me to loose that man from the whole mess.
Cleansing and freedom
"God," I said, "You are the judge, and You saw what that man did to me. Lord, I do forgive him. Loose him, and don't hold his act against him. Help him to be saved!"
As I prayed, the strengthening joy of the Lord filled my soul. I felt cleansed almost as if the whole thing had never happened.
The nightmares disappeared, and my mind was free to think on happier things.
Help from God
I trust the Lord will use my story to encourage those who have suffered at the hands of lawless, violent people. I have learned that God has a provision of grace that can enable us to bear anything. When He sees you are taking more than you can handle, He will make a way of escape from the horror.
I also believe that the marvelous deliverance God gave me from the trauma of rape, from the hatred, bitterness, and nightmares, may encourage others who have endured similar experiences as children or adults. He can deliver them too.
There is power in thankfulness and forgiveness and faith power to deliver us from all kinds of terrible feelings toward God, people, and ourselves that might fill our hearts and warp our lives and souls. I experienced that power.
Thus I have learned that we can take our experiences in one of two ways: with bitterness, hostility, wrath, and anger leading to Hades on earth or with God's help, thanking, loving, forgiving leading to peace, joy, release, and abundant life.
God is now using me to help multitudes of prisoners, telling them from my heart how Christ forgives and gives us the power to overcome the past. Who knows? Perhaps the man who assaulted me has been among those who have turned their lives over to God at those meetings!
I also serve as a counselor with a local Rape Crisis Council for thirty hours each week. Through this, I pass on to other women and girls the important truths that have made such a difference in my life. Thanks to God and His ability to work good from bad, I can help many others come through their crises. What He did for me, He can do for them!
* Name has been changed.
Editor’s note: We acknowledge that not all women who have been raped experience healing as quickly as this woman did, by God’s grace.