2 Corinthians 13:1 (New Living Translation)
As the Scriptures say, “The facts of every case must be established by two or three witnesses.”
“If I give up my anger, how will anyone know I’ve been hurt?”
Crimes that are committed in secret can be especially difficult to forgive. Incest, rape, emotional abuse, ridiculing, successful swindling—these injuries might only be confirmed by the two people involved, you and the perpetrator. With no one else to vouch for you, the person who wounded you may downplay the harm done to you or dismiss your suffering as insignificant. He or she may deny the incident and try to convince you that what you experienced wasn’t real or was exaggerated. You might be accused of being overly sensitive, of overreacting. Children are particularly vulnerable to these manipulations and may begin to doubt their own perceptions.
Secret wounding can make us feel crazy because we have no one to validate our experience, acknowledge our suffering, or hold the perpetrator accountable. In such cases our anger and pain may serve as our only witnesses to the injury. These two feelings help us to feel grounded in the reality of what happened to us. In the absence of another witness, we are reluctant to give up these feelings and face the possibility that our suffering will go unanswered.
As Christians, we can always be confident that there was indeed another Witness to our wounding. God is ever with us, feeling our stings and insults, grieving for our losses. Through the incarnate Son, God understands our deep human need to have our experience known and validated. Not only as a loving Father but also as the Righteous Judge, he will ultimately hold all evildoers accountable and vindicate his injured and oppressed children in his perfect time.
To forget your wound may not be possible or even advisable. But to load yourself with anger and pain makes the memory too heavy to carry. Let God convince you that those two witnesses are no longer necessary. God knows your heart and what you have suffered. He longs to refresh and heal you by lightening the memory of your injury and taking away your need to punish.
FATHER, I confess that I have been reluctant to give up my anger and pain, especially when my injuries were committed in secret. I have allowed these two feelings to stir up hatred and bitterness so that forgiving the person who harmed me seems impossible. Thank you for your promise to lighten my burden as I trust in you. Forgive me for the times I have harmed others in secret and refused to validate their suffering. Help me to make amends where I can.
Matthew 11:28-30; Ephesians 5:12-14
How does clinging to your anger and pain benefit you? What assurance do you need from God before you can release these two “witnesses”?