The Most Unbelievable Thing in the Universe

The Most Unbelievable Thing in the Universe

While participating in a Twelve-Step workshop last weekend, I had the opportunity to share my experience, strength, and hope on the topic of forgiveness. After the workshop, I was asked to write down my share for the ESSAY magazine, which follows here:

When I first worked the Twelve Steps a few years ago, I came to the Ninth Step through the guidance of my sponsor and, of course, through the grace of God. After making all the amends (none of them came easily to me) I went to my parents’ house one day. Just before I got there, I was met by the neighbor who had sexually abused me when I was 10 years old. I immediately felt resentment rising in me when I saw him coming toward me from a distance. I immediately turned my gaze away from him and rang my parents’ doorbell to escape the situation.

That same evening, I shared this situation with my sponsor and he recommended that I pray every day for this person who had inflicted this abuse on me. I then did so. I had to pray for my neighbor morning and night for a year until my Higher Power finally took my resentment away from me.

About a month after that time, I visited my parents again. They had invited me for lunch and we had spent a nice day together. As the early evening approached, my mother asked me to buy something for dinner at the nearby grocery store. This is extraordinary because my mother usually never misses an opportunity to do the shopping herself. However, she told me that day that she was not feeling well and asked me to do the shopping for her.

So I went to the nearby grocery store. When I entered, I saw my neighbor sitting at a table across from the adjoining bakery. I had to walk right past him to enter the store. As I passed him, I already suspected that this could not be a coincidence. While shopping in the grocery store, I learned from my Higher Power that the day and hour had come to forgive my neighbor. All the way to the checkout, I was inwardly discussing with my Higher Power whether I was ready to forgive today. At first, I resisted. But my mother had told me to go to the bakery and bring some rolls for the evening meal.

While I was ordering my rolls from the saleswoman, my neighbor was sitting right behind me. At that moment, I gave up my resistance to this pending forgiveness and my Higher Power’s will. I accepted the rolls from the saleswoman, paid for them, and then turned and walked toward my neighbor at the opposite table. I addressed him kindly by his first name and asked if he recognized me. He recognized me immediately, although we had not seen or spoken to each other for more than 40 years. I asked him if he had time now because I had to discuss something with him. He agreed. Thereupon I told him calmly and patiently what had happened at that time.

“Werner, I was 10 years old when I rang your doorbell. You opened the door for me at that time and I explained to you that I wanted to visit your brother, Hermann. You told me that your brother was not yet home, but that I was welcome to wait for him here. We then went together to the terrace.”

At this moment I felt Werner getting very restless. Nevertheless, I continued my story gently and attentively.

“On your terrace, there was a large mound of sand. We walked toward it and then we both settled down on it. Suddenly, you stood up and pulled down your pants. You took my hand and let yourself fall again on this sand mound. Afterward, you masturbated yourself with my hand.”

When I said this, he reacted with horror and denial. He claimed that it was not true. I then explained to him that I was not here to accuse him. I took my left hand and placed it on his hand. I told him that I was not here to accuse him, but that I had forgiven him. When he heard that, he immediately started crying and swore that he’d never done that again. After that, I said goodbye to him and walked away, freed from any resentment.

To this day, that resentment toward my neighbor that I carried inside me for over 40 years has never returned. I owe this miracle only to this wonderful program, my sponsor, the tools, and of course, mainly to my Higher Power.

Detlef, Düsseldorf, Germany

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