A friend of mine of recently posted on Facebook a powerful story on pain and forgiveness regarding a horrible tragedy that happened to her six years ago. Her story inspires me to really examine what real forgiveness looks like, to understand that it never comes easy, but to remember that healing only occurs after we forgive. More importantly, it is in these difficult moments that we truly grasp how powerful and amazing it was that Jesus extended his forgiveness towards us.
Six years ago today, my world was turned completely upside down.
This is the first time I’m sharing my story and the internal battle to find forgiveness. I can say with absolute certainty, the full credit of my continued healing and strength is not my own, and is only through God’s mercy and strength.
I apologize if you find the graphic photo troubling, but I felt the visual was necessary to fully explain the magnitude of the attack
On Monday, September 14, 2009, a Rottweiler viciously attacked my face — it was so severe I had to have 75 stitches to reconstruct my face back together.
It was traumatic, in every sense of the way.
The owner of the dog didn’t have renter’s insurance and essentially had zero assets. To this day, I’ve not received a dime from him and have had to pay for everything out of pocket.
Thankfully, I had health insurance and praise God the ER called in a professional surgeon the night it happened to sew up my face. Although I still have scars on my face that I see every single day in the mirror, it could have been so much worse.
I still need one final surgery.
I did everything by the book. Filed a police report. Contacted a lawyer. But because the owner had no assets, the lawyer dropped my case.
The statue of limitations in Ohio to file a suit is 6 years, and with today being the last opportunity to battle it out in the courts, I had a final decision to make.
These past few months have been especially grueling as I struggled deeply with the decision on how to proceed.
I was angry, and I mistakenly thought I couldn’t get closure until the owner “made it right.” Instead of looking up to God, I continued to look towards the owner to fix the situation.
In a final effort, I contacted the owner and asked if he’d be willing to pay SOMETHING, even $50 a month until I recouped my expenses. I was met with cold-dead silence.
Standing at the crossroads, I had to make a decision.
Do I seek revenge? Garnish his wages? Put a lien on his home? Force him into bankruptcy? Force him to accept personal responsibility and financially pay for his actions? Hurt him financially like he hurt me? Continue to look to him for closure?
Do I pray to God for the heart to forgive him and the peace to move on with my life?
Matthew 10:28 says “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
As Christians, we are called to forgive those who have wronged us– EVEN IF the other person never accepts personal responsibility or feels remorse for their actions.
I’ve learned the power to heal and forgive won’t come from the owner, it will only come from Jesus.
Friends, we can’t always choose what happens to us. There are bad people in this world. But, we can choose how we react. We can choose to repay those who wrong us with bitterness and anger or we can choose to respond in the light.
Matthew 5:26 says “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”
So, instead of going through both the financial burden of hiring a lawyer AND the emotional toll of reliving that night and further being tied to the situation, I’ve made the decision to not press charges, and instead seek healing in God’s light and pray He will give me the strength to forgive.
Fighting it out in court won’t take the scars away, and it won’t bring me peace.
Only my faith in the Lord can bring healing to my spirit.
Romans 8:28 says “The Lord works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
So why am I sharing my story on FB?
The enemy uses shame to keep us quiet. For years, I didn’t know how to fully process what had happened to me.
But I believe there is healing in the truth and the light.
Even though I am working through my anger, I know God will use this situation for good, and His hand is forever on my life.
What the enemy tried to use for ill (cause me to be bitter and resentful) God used for good and taught me that there is healing in forgiveness.
Please keep me in your prayers that I gain the heart to forgive the owner(I’m not completely there yet) and the peace to move on.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33