Can Even I, a once child abuser, be Forgive?
The question this week Is, “Shawna I beat my children, my mom beat me, and my children beat my grandchildren. I am going to stop the abuse now! But, can I be forgiven? I have hurt so many!”
I’m going to answer this with a story and at the end of the blog, I had a lot of friends give their advice as well.
I tugged at the frosted window latch. The freezing weather sealed the condensation making opening the window quite a feat. I climbed up a footstool and leveraged my body weight and forced the window open. A gust of icy wind stung my face instantly freezing my wet eyelashes. Through the open window, my drugged-up friend stood with just a thin jacket to protect him from the below freezing weather. I cried many a tear for him. And tonight, they just seemed to flow, now frozen streaks stained my face as he begged me to let him in and sleep on my floor. Of course, I did. I snuck him in and made him a bed on the floor.
He had been living up the canyon in a makeshift shelter choosing that lifestyle rather than follow his parents’ house rules: Go to school, no drugs and alcohol, come home by curfew these rules he refused to follow. Doing all that they could to help their son onto a better path. His choices were toxic to the entire family. To protect the rest of the family, and until he accepted the help, they had offered him, he could no longer live under their roof.
He stumbled through the window landing on the blanket I had just laid out. I watched his dark empty eye slowly close as he slurred words of thank you and passed out for the night. Everyone said he was destined to follow this path. He had lived with his druggie birth mother for far too long. Before his biological father had finally gotten custody. I’d known him my entire life. I loved him and to me, as I watched him snoring on the floor, I only saw a little boy who got lost in the dark. It was a world he was born into. Your next hit was your driving force. With no job I knew he did whatever he needed, terrible things, to get the poison his body craved. I cried myself to sleep hoping I didn’t get caught with him lying on my floor.
An entire year went by before I saw him again. After that night I heard he’d gone to live with an Uncle far from where I lived.
But, this is the amazing part that I wanted to tell you. My friend came back.
It was a warm spring day excitement was in the air. We were planning graduation parties and dreaming of what our lives could become. I quickly got out of my car as I screeched to a holt in our driveway. In a hurry to grab the stuff I had left at home and get on with our planning. Looking down at all the things I was juggling in my arms, I ran up the steps as I had a hundred time. Reaching up for the door handle I screamed in shock. There was a guy sitting on my front porch. He was handsome, blue eyes sparkled, his hair cut short and combed neatly. I hardly recognized him. It was my friend. I stood and stared for a moment not saying a word. There was something different about him that I tried hard to understand. His shoulders where square, his eyes met mine in confidence that shone all around him he seemed…. Like a shiny new him.
My first words where “What happened to you?” He smiled because he knew my confusion and the complete change he had made.
“What happened to me is…” His smile got wider, and I swear even his teeth seemed whiter. “What happened to me is I found the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” I looked at him confused not knowing what the heck the Gospel of Jesus Christ was. He recognized my confusion. “You know the nickname The Mormons? You have heard of the Book of Mormon.” Once I started reading it, I realized I was not alone. That though getting clean would be hard I was not doing it alone. I’ve been through a lot and brought myself up from the darkest lowest time in my life. It was a hard journey but now I feel free and in control of my life.”
He had come to invite me to his Mission Farewell. (A mission farewell is when the person going on a mission give a talk, say goodbye to his friends and family, and leaves for 2 years to spread the joy and happiness of the gospel of Jesus Christ… and all that they have learned. They are commonly known as the Missionaries.) I could not believe the difference in my friend. He had gone from someone literally swimming in darkness. To someone Literally radiating light. He explained to me all about the atonement and how Jesus Christ died for us. All that we do wrong can be forgiven. My friend did have to fix the wrongs that he made, asked others for forgiveness, and most of all he was still working on forgiving himself. But it was the atonement that had set him free. And it can set you free as well. The road may become slippery, and you may stumble, but through the atonement, you have help to get back up and stay in the light.
He also taught me about the Book of Mormon. It is additional scriptures the Church has. He said The Book of Mormon was like the bible. But this book tells of prophets teaching on this continent, same as the bible tells of Prophets from a different content. My personal favorite story in the Book of Mormon (because I too have made bad choices maybe not those exact ones but ones of my own.)
My favorite story in the Book of Mormon is about a young man called Alma the younger. It says that he was the Most vilest…” Of sinners. ( Definition of Vilest) Then he has a remarkable experience and decides to repent. Though it wasn’t easy, “and they did suffer much anguish of soul because of their iniquities.” He did repent and became a great man. Who experienced much joy and spread the message of repentance. We can read that just twenty years later Alma 48:18 Alma is compared and became equal to one of the greatest prophets to walk the earth Moroni. I quote from Alma 48:17 “ …If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever. It’s wonderful to know that regardless of your sins you can still work toward goodness.
Great video on forgiveness
Here is some advice from my friends.
Lee Leslie This wonderful man was my coach in high school. He changed my life by believing in me.
Adversity is an important tool in learning right from wrong. Doing hard things is an important practice that prepares us for adverse situations. If it was easy, this life would be meaningless, and our time here would be pointless. Wisdom is learned through adversity and shared with others…..especially our children and grandchildren. As we get older, some of our adverse conditions endured in our younger years seem much less painful and much more appreciated for lessons learned. Bottom line! Our most important blessings in this life are our families. Your friend needs to spend her valuable time loving and nurturing her grandchildren while she can and be willing to change. Heavenly Father expects us to be willing to change for the good. You are an amazing person Shawna and I am so proud of you!
Natalie Higgins Lytle Oh yikes. That is a hard one to answer. I think they need more than advice. Maybe family counseling
Jill Miller-Cantrell It’s hard to say without knowing more about the situation and there isn’t obviously a quick fix. I feel for her 💔 and the entire family. Maybe she can make her kids think about the parent they needed her to be when they were little and try to model that for their kids. She can help them learn from her regrets so they won’t have them. I commend her for her honesty and reaching out for help. God will forgive her if she seeks it and I hope she’s able to forgive herself. It’s so difficult to break a cycle like that 💔😢, but someone HAS TO. I hope she’s the one. ❤️ “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Tami Searle This one is really tough. It makes me sad for each one of them. I think breaking cycles is one of the hardest things to do. I do know that change happens little by little. One day at a time. Sometimes only one minute at a time. It takes courage to tell someone something like this. I think she has the courage it will take to make the changes she needs to. It will be a long journey but it will be so worth it. I do believe it is possible for her to receive the forgiveness she desires. I pray that she will have the strength to change her life and the lives of those that she loves ❤️
Jacqueline D Jackson At least she recognizes the problem and wants cycle to stop. I wish I had better advice other than they all need better coping skills.
Anne E Lund Because she recognizes the cycle, she can indeed stop it, and she can heal herself, and help her kids and grandkids heal. Yes she can be forgiven. I agree with the others, forgiving yourself is hard! Through the grace of Jesus Christ all of this can be forgiven. You need to see the “dirt” before you can clean the house. She could start by honoring the fact that it happened, feel remorse, confess to those she’s hurt and to God. Try to repair the damage, and never do it again.
I recommend www.thetappingsolution.com to make the process shorter and more effective in the long run. They are getting ready for their free 10 day long Tapping World Summit at the end of February. It’s online with two sessions a day of instruction and tapping to clear negativity in life. I listen every year. It has helped me so much.
Cathy Dobrusky I think a counselor would be extremely helpful in this cyclical situation. I highly recommend Jonathan Decker your family therapist
My two cents I guess
Forgiveness is of course given freely by God. He paid that price already.. Harder when it’s by others. An apology and admission of guilt to those you hurt I think is a great first step to start the process. I don’t think their forgiveness is necessary for your own healing, doing your part to right your wrong is however (in my opinion). Hardest of all for some of us is forgiving ourselves for things we have done. Some have made the choice to take the life of others, that pain runs deep and is hard to ever let go. When you truly see the pain you’ve caused others…. it’s literally crippling at times… i still have days where I literally can’t function. I’ve been suicidal over my violent past. I used to hurt myself and others just because I need the inside pain to quiet down, even just for a minute… Forgiving yourself is the killer 🤕
This is something I do not talk about, but to help someone else I guess I’ll take a little embarrassment
Vanessa Parker SWEETHEART, I AGREE WITH MR JOHNSON, THE CHILDREN WILL FORGIVE, IT’S DEALING WITH YOURSELF THAT GOING TO NEED THE HEALING, I CAN IDENTIFY WITH JEREMY JOHNSON 😐
Dianne Sabido No I don’t mind that it is posted, when I speak with young mothers who have no support and how frustrated they get, Like AA, I call it EMC, Emergency Mothers Communication, I tell them they are not alone, to call someone, and since a lot of young women are not LDS they can call me, and I will listen,and try to calm them down.
Tulsi Esplin I wasn’t raised in the church, but I understood why life was tough. But as I chose my spouce, in the church, and made decisions, my thoughts were if it would have made ME feel better, release tension, it wasn’t right to involve my kids. To quickily stop an action, it may have been ok. It was a broken cycle. I understood their frustration, but I knew it wasn’t the right thing. My kids have loving teachings and sit and talk more. They have chisen loving careers, as well.
Cora Hall Yes, forgiveness is available. Making amends is the first step. And that starts with a thorough personal inventory so she is able to start with a discussion with her children by: accepting responsibility for her actions, letting them know she knows she was wrong, that abuse is NEVER discipline, and that the cycle ends now with them all learning a better way.
If she heads into this in any other way, she will seem hypocritical and condescending. And it still may not go well.
She also needs to discuss the abuse with her bishop
Debrah Roundy YES! Someone has to stop the cycle and it might as well be her. Once she stops that cycle the energy in the family will begin to shift. If she can forgive back several generations of people, I hardly beleive her mother was the first, her grandmother and on back. Men who have treated their women as chattel may need to be addressed in the forgiveness process. It will help her address the past as she begins to understand that she is not standing alone, that countless women likely stand behind her in her ancestry, abused and acting out what they did not know how to control. As she begins to feel the shift it will give her courage and strength to carry forward. As she obtains that blessed forgiveness, she will unconsciously act in new ways and that will affect the entire family constellation. It may not have a big affect on the generation now, depending on the age, but it will carry through to the future. Best of luck.
Dianne Sabido Yes they can, I too with the aide of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, suffered from Post P. Blues and had a baby that continually cried, and I lost it. I had no help with my baby, I had only Criticism, I had tried counseling, but my husband at the time said the Counselor needed to tell me it was all my fault that the baby cried constantly. She would not, so I was not allowed to go back. So i started spanking her, and all of the regrets were collected with heartache. My daughter now is almost 50, she has three beautiful triplets and has refused to speak to me for nearly 14 years, I wrote her a letter of apology, and explained what I did was wrong no matter what, and asked that she call me, and just vent, I would listen with no excuses. She has refused. So I prayed again and the Holy Spirit led me to what the Saviour said that if we sought to ask for forgiveness and it was not done, then the Saviour will make that judgement and that I had been forgiven, because I recognized what I had done was wrong. I feel confident and have not had that prison of guilt anymore because I know that our Heavenly Father forgave me because of my Broken and Contrite Spirit. The fact is that is why He came to this earth to pay that price for us.😔
Debrah Roundy Thank you for your courage to admit and change. GO forth with faith that Jesus loves you and when you take his gift of repentance he who has felt the ultimate pain can also feel the ultimate joy
Martina Sanche Palitayan How sad that demons of beating was never left there family.they are being manipulated through generations.only accepting Christ in there lives can release them from that demons n filled there hearts again love ,peace n joy..read about jesus healed those people possess by demonic entity..the demons can have legal grounds to manipulate u.as long u dont have the holy spirit inside u..its christian protection from the force of darkness.hatered n grudge is being planted in there hearts so thats why its easy for demons to manipulate them.so sad.
Martina Sanche Palitayan Shawna Smart ok.but advice them to accept the words of God.so they got freedom from that demons.
Daniel K. C. Johnson Forgiveness comes to the repentant and talking about the problem among the family without any judgement should help.
Elsie Borreros A forgiving SPIRIT feels US free from GUILT AND We can move-ON with LIFE carrying those burdens lightly and strongly.
Char Schreffler God can help us all with any problem. Go talk to the Bishop. and pray with the church leaders. It says in the Bible and book of Mormon to trust in the Lord. The Bible says. Jesus says to forgive one another and He will forgive us of our sins. People have to have love in their hearts and in their homes. Read Proverbs, by King Solomon. Then Psalms by King David. King David. is King Solomon’s father. And Mathew in the New Testament tells us how we all should live
Adrian Lindsey Forgiveness is for all and we teach our family by example just like Christ taught us . He lived his teachings in his every second of earthy life and shared his life with others so they could learn by his example not just words. She can be a living example of repentance and change then she could embrace the broken family sharing her new ways of life .
Carol Blankenship Bridger Shawna Smart All of life’s questions can be answered in the scriptures. Seek. Use the references in the Topical Guide and many wonderful videos and talks from the Church Leaders. These words and power to heal comes as we Seek to Come Unto Christ.
Farley Helen Anderson Tell her children she is sorry and made some bad mistakes and set some bad examples. Then suggest they be the hero that breaks the cycle. Then help them do
Joseph R. Bothwell As far as I’m concerned, the secret of the whole thing of abuse, addiction, whatever it may be, is to ask Christ to come into your life and take these things away from me. He has with me on several different occasions, and to make you clean, then keep the commandment of God the best you can and do a lot of geneolgy,….D&C 128:15-16. Were only perfected as we help other to become that way. Missionary work for the living is just as good, but doing FamilySearch names is non-threatening.
Daryl Yeager The d& c. Says. Reprove betimes with sharpness. When moved upon
By the spirit of the Holy Ghost. And
Then thereafter. Show an increase of
Love. Lest he deem thee as thy enemy
I think if one reads this slowly and
Contemplate on the keys words
One can ready see that to correct your
Children. Is a parents. Responsibility
And by doing so. Shows that child
You love. Them. However. It certainly
Does not say to beat or abuse them
Jeanine and I raised 5 children. With
This principle in mind. And is now still
Fully evident in the third generation
Rho Jean There is only one sin that can no be forgiven…blaspheme against the Holy Ghost. By example we teach, she taught the wrong way the first time, and now its time to be a good example. If they are in the church, tell her to have a visit with her bishop. He can direct her in the way she needs to be. If her kids arent, still go to the bishop, he can tell her how to fix it. Pray pray pray tell her. It truly does work!
Toni Imms This lady needs specific trauma counseling, the two types I’ve found are EMDR and Somatic Therapy. General type counseling like CBT can’t get to the heart of the problem. If this lady gets help for her own past trauma maybe her daughter will be encouraged to seek help herself.
The other crucial thing to do is stay close to Heavenly Father, pray and read the scriptures everyday to allow Heavenly Father into her life so he can direct her to the right help for her and her daughter.
I speak from lots of experience
Richard Marsing . you can tell them to read the family proclamation to the world….. We Warn the individuals who violate covenants of Chastity who Abuse Spouse or Offsprings or Fail to Fulfill Family Responsibilities. Will One Day Stand Accountable Before God further we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon Individuals Communities and Nations the Calamities Foretold by Ancient and Modern Prophets we call upon responsible citizens and options of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to Maintain and Strengthen the Family as a Fundamental Unit of Society
Richard Marsing we will answer to the Lord for our own transgressions the best advice is repent of your sins change your ways and turn to the Lord with a full heart
Linda Acosta Alcantara Yea, it”s true. Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by CHANGE.
Joseph R. Bothwell As far as I’m concerned, the secret of the whole thing of abuse, addiction, whatever it may be, is to ask Christ to come into your life and take these things away from me. He has with me on several different occasions, and to make you clean, then keep the commandment of God the best you can and do a lot of geneolgy,….D&C 128:15-16. Were only perfected as we help other to become that way. Missionary work for the living is just as good, but doing FamilySearch names is non-threatening
Patricia Ledbetter She has to break the cycle. There ate all kinds of Mental health care, Abused Women and Children help, True enough go to the Bishop. Get out of that house and change the lifestyle… No one can stop it, but her. She has to have a plan… Save money, pack clothes, and get out!!! This will have an effect on those kids for a lifetime and the cycle goes on … There are so many resources that she can use and Don’t give up and stay close to the Lord….Don’t stop going to church!!! I know first hand about Abuse!!
MaryAnn Smith She can stop it now by being an example to her family. Prayers 🙏 works wonders
Damba Immy Fasting and praying about it including forgeting abt the abuse is the best medicine thanks smart Shw