Ghosts and Monsters

I've had a Monster in my closet for 13 years.

The Monster was turned loose upon me by its master 13 years ago. I was completely taken aback by its attack. It was completely unexpected, unleashed upon my by someone I trusted wholeheartedly. The attack was violent and swift, and the Monster was vicious and angry and spewed fire and venom, clawing me to shreds, leaving me ripped apart, exposed, and bleeding. It ate into to the very core of my being, stripping me of my identity, my dignity, my dreams, and my faith. I was pinned under its huge talons and too weak to fight back; it then stalked the perimeter of my life, holding me captive in its dungeon, chasing away my friends and my family, isolating me, making me feel like a freak and an outcast. I lived in shame and guilt and utter despair; I was completely alone.

Then it lied to me and told me it was all my fault. It made me believe that I was the one who was the monster, that it was inside of me. It made me hate who I had become. It made me feel guilt and shame and self-loathing...and then it made me wish that I was dead. It made me wonder where God went, and why He had let this happen to me. The Monster told me that God had let it happen to me because I was bad. It told me that I was ugly and undeserving of love. It destroyed everything I knew to be true... it twisted Truth and made it a lie.

But time passed, and the trauma of the initial attack began to fade. One day, I was able to force the Monster into the closet: at least it was hidden from plain view. That worked for a short while, but the Monster didn't like its new home, and it would scream and bellow from the recesses of the closet, striking fear and horror in my soul. I was constantly reminded that, even though I couldn't see the Monster, it was still living in my home. Every now and then, when the Monster was still, I would go near the door of the closet and listen, just to see if it was still alive. Sensing my presence, it would rage and claw at the door, spewing its threats and accusations once again, and I would tremble and wither on the floor in fear as the memories of its vicious attack came flooding back.

Over the years, as I kept the Monster locked away in the closet, its screams weakened and its threats became less insidious. I eventually learned to stop thinking about the Monster all the time, and it began to shrink. Sometimes, though, I would find comfort in the Monster's presence. It was easy to keep it around, and I grew accustomed to it. It became a crutch, and excuse for closing off those around me.

Every so often I would run across someone else who had been victim of the same Monster -- and in fact, its same master -- and I began to feel vindicated, understanding that it was not just me who had been targeted. I became a little more brave, and soon I came to understand that I needed to begin to forgive the master for sending me the Monster. I began to understand that living with bitterness and unforgiveness towards its master was not hurting its master, as I wanted so desperately, but was, in fact, feeding the Monster and allowing it to prey on me still. I learned that the only way to truly slay the Monster was to release its master from the debt he incurred upon me; to forgive this man and wish him well.

And so, one day, I got on my face before God, and He and I did serious battle with the Monster. I chose to walk away from the anger and hatred and began to look at the attack in a new light: it didn't happen because I was "bad" or because I was undeserving of love, but God had allowed it to happen to me, and because of it, I was forced to change courses. If I hadn't been pursued by the Monster, I would not have run the other way, thus finding my true family -- my husband and my son. And with this revelation, I was led back to my faith, knowing that God, while allowing the attack, had me in the palm of His hand the entire time. That day, in my bedroom, I chose to forgive, and in doing so, I chose to allow God to slay the Monster.

Then God began to restore me. He gave me back my music, something that the Monster had forced me to let go of for years. He began to speak Truth to me, telling me that I was loved, I was accepted, and I was safe. The Monster no longer dictated my actions and my plans. I began to come back to life. That was seven years ago.

Over the years, I have always just accepted the fact that I would not finish the old business with the Monster's master, and that was okay. I had closed the adjoining door on the past that we shared, even though this man had left his door open. And sometimes, through the door, I could hear the Monster's ghost whispering its old lies to me. I would walk away, unharmed, but irritated that it was still trying to talk to me.

But two days ago, out of the blue, I received a letter from the man who unleashed the Monster on me. I opened the letter, not knowing who it was from. The man identified himself in the first line of the letter, and I began to tremble. I read on, not knowing what to expect, but I was surprised and shaken at his words: "Please forgive me. My actions towards you were evil. I was wrong. I hope you can forgive me."

The end.


It was the letter every victim of such abuse longs to receive. I had prayed to receive such a letter in the years following the attack, because I thought I would find healing through those words. God knew better. He knew that I had to forgive without condition, without any guarantee that I would ever receive an apology. That is where I found true forgiveness and healing.

This letter marked the end of the Monster once and for all. Though long dead, its ghost no longer has the ability to haunt me. I've lived with it for 13 years, and now it is gone, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react. It's indescribable. It is a gift. And it is, once again, a testament of God's perfect will, His perfect timing, and His perfect love.


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