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(St. Petersburg, FL)
This past year, I rented a room from an elderly man but each time I returned home or paid rent, he would ask me about dating him. I told him "no" on several occasions but it got so bad that I didn't want to go home if I knew he was there.
Finally, I decided to move. He became angry and actually tried to choke me! I struck him to make him remove his hands from my neck and he called the police. The police came but neither of us were arrested at that time. However, three months later, I was arrested at my job for battery on a person over 65 years.
I spent 40 days in jail and finally pleaded guilty in order to get out of jail. I was placed on probation and ordered to pay $1152 in court costs. Once my costs are paid, I can terminate probation. This "conviction" stays on my record and makes it very difficult for me to obtain employment in the retirement state of Florida.
I am VERY angry about this situation but as a believer, I must forgive. What do you suggest?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Myrtle, and thanks for telling your story here. You certainly have good reasons to be angry. This situation as you present it is clearly a case of victimization. This man was a predator toward you from the beginning, and then when he did not get what he wanted, he attacked you in a different way. And now you have lasting negative results.
No one could help but be angry in your shoes. As you point out, however, staying angry is not best for you. In terms of forgiveness, keep in mind that his behavior is unforgivable, and it will stay that way. Be very clear about that in your mind, as you move toward forgiving this man for being the flawed, broken human being that he is. We are all flawed and broken, each in our own way.
This perspective allows you to accept his place in the family of humanity, which contains every imaginable extreme. I think that may be the closest to full forgiveness as you can come...and it is enough to give you peace and freedom.
There is one more piece to consider, Myrtle. Make up your mind that you’re going to be smarter and stronger because of what happened. Examine your choices every step of the way, and ask yourself how could you have chosen differently that might have brought different outcomes. What were your warning signs from the beginning of your contact with this man. How would you handle things differently if placed in that situation again?
Also ask yourself if you have any similar type of history with anyone else in your life. Look at past situations where you felt like a victim, and examine the beliefs that arose from those experiences. This is tremendously valuable, if you take it seriously and really do it.
I hope this helps you, Myrtle. You are worthy of peace in your heart and soul.
My very best to you,
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