GENESEO — Kathy Allen had to forgive before she could begin to forget.|
Now she wants to share with others how forgiveness set her free by leading a seven-week "Freedom Through Total Forgiveness" program, starting Sunday, Feb. 3, at First United Methodist Church, 302 North State St.
Weekly sessions, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the church parlor, are free and open to the public. The book used in the study, "Total Forgiveness," is $10 and available with pre-registration. To register, contact Yvette Biddle at (309) 944-2793 or Mrs. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mrs. Allen has led similar classes about forgiveness for women at "New Life for Women," a rural Geneseo branch of the Chicago Dream Center, where she also has taught art and other classes.
She said her life experiences led her to learning about forgiveness. "Forgiveness is the cornerstone of our Lord's teaching. It's what the cross is all about. … God forgiving me, and now, it is about me forgiving others. … Forgiveness does not come easy, is not cheap nor is it painless.
"I know there are others who were sexually molested at an early age," she said. "How do we forgive? I now know there is a way, and that is through God.
"We often believe the lies others have told us, and we take on their guilt," she said. "When I was only 4 years old, I believed the fault was all mine when this man chose to take his sinful ways out on me."
For many years she struggled with guilt, blaming herself for what had happened.
"But then God happened in my life," she said, "and I understood I was set free from the guilt by the blood of Jesus. God is bigger than guilt, and God is stronger, and God is more faithful. I love those words, 'but God.'"
Forgiveness is "a process," Mrs. Allen said. "It is not a case of 'just forgive and forget.'
"Some people quote the Bible that says 'God forgets our sins,'" she said. "But God is not some old fool who cannot remember what I have done. He knows full well. But God chooses not to remember my sins. So I need to choose not to remember the sins others have committed against me. I dare not play those old tapes in my mind, you know the ones where each time you play them, you become a little more saintly, and the other person becomes a bit more evil."
One of the core messages of the Gospel is that of total forgiveness, not only that we can be totally forgiven by God, but also that we must, in turn, totally forgive others, Mrs. Allen said.
She said forgiveness is not pretending an offense didn't happen. "That is called denial," she said. "And that does not work for long term, nor does pretending that we were not hurt satisfy the soul. That is a lie and also does not work."
The sessions offer a game plan and encouragement, she said.
"We will uncover physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of unforgiveness and see why God adamantly encourages us to forgive others," she said. "In our study, I want to share with others the joy of being forgiven and of forgiving others. That brings richness and peace into our lives."
Birth date:July 19, 1944
Family: Husband, David Allen; sons, Dave Allen Jr., Bolingbrook, and Dan Allen, Green Bay, Wis.; daughters, Lora Vece, Annandale, Va., and Sara Lauterbach, Pittsburgh; 10 grandchildren
Education: Wheaton High School, received licensed practical nurse training at College of DuPage
Favorite Scripture: Isaiah 309:15
Favorite Biblical character she'd like to meet:"The man in scripture who says, 'Lord, I believe, now help my unbelief.' I love what that man said and have prayed that many a time."
Hobbies and activities: Working at New Life for Women, drawing, painting, gardening, quilting.
Peak experience: "Learning I am loved by God; being married and having children."
Pit experience: "Being hurt by others and hurting others."
One thing I feel strongly about: "Love is the answer."
I wish I knew how to: "Love better, but I keep practicing."
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