The Strength to Overcome

John CroyleBe set free.

by John Croyle


The children who call Big Oak Ranch their home are not bad kids. They are simply kids who come from difficult situations. Nearly all of our children have experienced some sort of abuse, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional abuse—and for some, it was being literally abandoned at our doorstep. Each story is unique, and every child has the common thread of simply wanting someone to want to take care of them, love them, and believe in them.  They want someone who will teach them to move on with their lives and train them for their futures. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

I know I’ve mentioned some very significant issues. But the hidden hurt—the emotional scars that are left when you are betrayed by someone who is supposed to love you—was the one thing they have the hardest time getting over. Every person I have ever met has, at one time or another, felt like a particular person did not do them right, and they felt they were betrayed in a significant way. As you are reading this, perhaps you are thinking about that time in your life, or perhaps it wasn’t just one time, but it happened over and over. Did you do something to change it? Or are you still living in it?

Over the last 40 years, I have met tens of thousands of individuals who have been hurt, damaged, abused, and betrayed. Every case was different, obviously, but there are really three kinds of people:

Those who continue to get hurt and do nothing to get out of the situation. They have accepted a lifetime of abuse. They think there is no way out. They are in the worst kind of prison, a prison of hopelessness and despair.

Those who get out of the abusive situation but do nothing to “move on.” The saddest situation I see is when a person has the strength to get out of a bad situation physically, but they live it out emotionally every single day, often many times a day. Retaining your past with hate, resentment, and bitterness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Those who make the choice—a decision in their mind, heart, spirit, and soul—to move on and be free.

Of course, we all want to be in the third group, but how do you obtain freedom? Many of you are reading this article and saying there is no way you can forgive certain people in your life for things that have been done. If you want to stay in prison, keep taking the poison of unforgiveness. However, if you want to truly be free and move on, here are some options that might help you on your journey:

1. Find a friend, mentor, or counselor. It should be someone whom you completely trust, one who has wisdom and maturity—preferably someone with spiritual depth to them—to whom you can talk.

2. Be honest. Stop telling yourself that you have moved on when you know you haven’t. Then be honest with the person to whom you have chosen to talk.

3. Face it. Until you face the abuse head-on, you will not be able to come to a point where you can defeat it.

4. Make a plan for forgiveness. It is going to be a daily struggle at first to let go of the anger, frustration, and even hate that will surface as you face your past, but it will eventually get better. Remember, everybody has a story; some are worse than others, but all are crippling.

5. Execute your plan. Every day you will become stronger and stronger and will be able to focus on positives in your life more and more. Hold onto those healthy, positive feelings, and make a point to not have room for the negatives.

6. Follow through and move on. Remember, there is an enemy who wants to continue to remind you of the bad times in your life. If you have asked God for forgiveness and have forgiven yourself and the other party, you are free indeed!

I have seen children who have been mutilated emotionally and physically, yet when they got to a point of forgiving and moving on, their lives changed. It takes real strength to overcome the kind of hurt our children have faced, to leave the past in the past, and to move forward into a future that is not clouded with negativity and hurt. But that is exactly what we try to teach and train our children to do—overcome the struggles and trials of the past, and look forward to their bright futures ahead. Each of our children do have a future and a hope, because they know that we take care of them, love them, and believe in them. Let’s all remember to apply those same principles to our specific circumstances.

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