Jane Battle began her summer’s day like any other day on July 13, 1970.
A young, carefree college student at Duke University who liked playing piano, reading, and riding horses. Jane had been on her way for an afternoon of riding when her life was set on a path of immense pain and even more incredible forgiveness.Read Jane's Story
After three weeks in a coma, Jane was told she had been viciously attacked and left for dead in the field in which she had been preparing to ride.
“It’s a miracle I survived. I had no measurable heartbeat, blood pressure, or respiration when the EMT crew arrived. When I regained consciousness, the only muscles in my body that I could control were my eyelids. I was like a 20 year old baby.”
Jane faced a long and arduous physical rehabilitation during which she realized her even greater need for what she now calls a "spiritual rehabilitation".
“Before my head injury, I had been a ‘Christmas and Easter Christian,’ believing in God but not having a personal relationship with him. After waking from her coma, God whispered one word in her ear: Forgive.”
Jane certainly had a lot to forgive.
“The attack left some permanent physical problems with my eyes and hands. I can no longer pick up a book and read it. I have a hard time recognizing faces. I can no longer drive, sew, play the piano, or do anything well that needs fine motor skills.”
Remembering what Jesus modeled in the Lord’s prayer, to ask the Father to forgive us, even as we forgive our trespassers, Jane began taking steps toward the call to forgive that God had whispered in her ear on her hospital bed.
“Now, I had to decide what forgiveness meant to me. I found that it is like an onion, with many layers. I had only started to scratch the surface with the Lord’s prayer.”
For many years, Jane prayed for to forgive her attacker. As she began going to church regularly and studying the Bible, she found herself challenged by the Word and the those teaching it to her.
“A Sunday school teacher told us to practice the command [in Matthew 5:43-4,4 to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you]. I tried to ask God to protect my attacker. But I couldn’t.”
Realizing that there was still a measure of unforgiveness in her heart, Jane continued to ask God to bring healing and strength so that she would be able to pray for her attacker.
Fast forward sixteen years, as Jane found herself in a Bible study at Grace Bible Church, a chance remark from a friend confronted Jane once again.
“She asked me if I had considered the fact that if my attacker had repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his Savior, that I’d see him in heaven one day.
A nagging doubt assailed me - I wasn’t sure I wanted him to go to heaven.”
As Jane continued to reflect on this idea and her feelings about her attacker’s salvation, God brought to mind a verse from Romans.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. Romans 12:19
“I had taken this verse to mean that God would punish the person, who was not punished for his crime on earth, by condemning him to hell.
I asked God to help me understand the ‘why’ of that verse and the Holy Spirit revealed to me meaning of the verse. In my case, namely, that God takes on our desire for vengeance and all of our other negative emotions on His shoulders. Ours shoulders are not wide enough to handle it without becoming bitter, and resentful, and un-Christlike.”
Jane would daily remind herself:
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
Jane’s story of forgiveness has not been one of immediate ease, but a struggle in which she has had to continuously lean on God and His Word.
“Forgiving this person has been a journey for me, a spiritual reawakening, a drawing closer to God, Who has been with me every step of the way helping, comforting, teaching.”
“So, I knew what I had to do. I had to pray that this man would repent, turn to Jesus, and gain everlasting life. It was not easy at first, but God helped me.
“It is easier now.”
Jane faithfully serves teaching 1st grade Sunday school at our Southwood Campus.