During the fall semester of my sophomore year I became very close with a boy. I didn’t know if I liked him or if I liked the fact that he was a senior and being with him made me feel good about myself. But by finals week we were officially together, and I was beyond excited.
One night after a basketball game he wanted to hang out, but my gut was telling me to go straight home. I disregarded my intuition and said that it would be fun to hang out one last time before Christmas break.
But it wasn’t fun. He began asking me to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with. He was touching me in places I didn’t want to be touched, and even though I tried to push his hands away, they kept roaming. He even went so far as to physically put my hands in places on his body that I wasn’t comfortable with.
Even though I tried to push his hands away, they kept roaming.
I kept saying no, but he kept saying things like, “I’m sorry, you’re just so beautiful.” And, “I’m leaving tomorrow; can you just do this for me?” I reluctantly agreed and told myself that it was OK, because at least we weren’t going all the way.
Later, as I was driving home, shame and a loss of respect for myself flooded over me, and I began crying uncontrollably. I pulled over to the side of the road and felt the crush of blame: This was my fault for saying yes. My mom had taught me to stay firm in my answers, and I had failed to do so. I also began to hate the boy for the way he had manipulated me.
When I was OK to drive again, I pulled onto the road and hurried home. I went straight to my room so that my parents wouldn’t ask questions. I was still upset, so it surprised me when a sudden calm came over me as I was lying on my bed. It felt like such a reminder of God’s presence that I started to give gratitude. I felt so thankful for all of the people in my life who love me no matter what: my mom and dad, my friends, my siblings. Thinking about all this love reassured me that God was still with me and helped me go to sleep.
The next day, though, I felt sick every time I thought about what had happened the night before. I decided to tell my best friend, and she reminded me that none of this was my fault. I’d said no, and he hadn’t respected my boundaries.
She also encouraged me to forgive him. From attending the Christian Science Sunday School, I’ve learned how powerful forgiveness is, so I took this to heart. I knew that what this boy had done was wrong and that there was no excuse for his actions. I knew that someday, somehow, he would have to come to terms with what he’d done.
But I also knew that forgiveness could help both of us, especially if it was based on an understanding of our identity as children of God. When someone is acting unkindly or inappropriately, this spiritual identity might feel hard to recognize. But seeing others and ourselves the way God does—as good, loving, pure, and unselfish—allows that real identity to become more apparent. I knew I could forgive based on this spiritual understanding of both my boyfriend and myself.
I felt so comforted knowing that God was right there with me, guiding me through the whole situation—no matter how dark things seemed, or how alone I felt.
On the bus ride to my basketball game that afternoon, I began to forgive. I forgave with my whole heart. As I did, a passage from Psalms came to thought: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (23:4). I felt so comforted knowing that God was right there with me, guiding me through the whole situation—no matter how dark things seemed, or how alone I felt.
I felt a sudden rush to communicate with the boy about what I was thinking. Although I broke up with him and was honest about how his actions had hurt me, I also told him that I forgave him.
After that, we didn’t talk for the whole break and even into the spring semester. During this time I kept praying and felt freer and freer. The guilt and shame were replaced by a feeling of peace as I understood that my innocence is always protected by God. Soon I was able to put the incident behind me.
Because we had two classes together, we did eventually decide to talk, and he opened up about how guilty he felt for making me do something that I had repeatedly said no to. Because I felt completely comforted by God and had no more shame or guilt, I was able to tell him that I had already forgiven him and that he could let this burden go. We have remained friendly since then.
This experience taught me a lot—not just about forgiveness but also about following my intuition to do the right thing. I’ve learned that this kind of intuition is really feeling God’s direction and that it’s important to let God guide my actions and decisions. I know that when I listen to God, I’ll always be led down the right path.