When someone sexually abuses your children, they declare a scorched earth policy on your soul. Your inner man finds no comfort and only exists in an empty charred wasteland that burns like hell. They say that after forest fires, the soil is very rich and new life comes forth, but first everything appears as dead.
I once had a dream.
Imagine the illustration and colors of an old Bible story book.
Center on the page under a multi- color striped tent awning an obviously overfed prideful man strolls surveying his seaside retreat. He sports such a look of complete mastery on such a beautiful sunny day. Looking a little closer at the picture I notice an emaciated boy with sunken eyes, huddled near the tent peg at the corner of this seaside paradise.My heart goes out to this slave boy and I realize the fat man is not a good man. And I turn the page.
A closer picture reveals the boy is tethered by a rope to the fat man. Funny thing about the rope, though, is that it isn’t as thick as expected. Perhaps a sharp rock could sever it? I estimate the chord at about the thickness of a clothesline. The boy paid the thin coiled rope no mind. He was to emaciated to deal with it. He stared out into space. I too am resigned that this little boy will live his story as a slave and this powerful slave master will live out his story in ease. I certainly didn’t expect what happened next.
Unexpectedly, a monstrous crocodile leaps and lunges out of the water swallowing the fat man whole from head to toe! Violently the monster dives back into the river with his prey. But wait! The fat man’s rope is still tethered to the slave boy! The multiple coils of slack are swallowed up, there are only a few seconds left to act! Cut the chord! In my heart I’m yelling to the endangered boy!
The dream ends.
I had been processing forgiveness hard during this time. One obstacle to forgiving my “fat man” was the belief that forgiveness meant no accountability for the offender. To extend that seemed such a betrayal. I couldn’t go there. The pain of our enslavement was ever present. To forgive seemed to me to be ignoring the wrong. I could not see it any other way.
This gave me a different perspective, a spiritual ties perspective. If I cut the chord to the offender with the sharp edge of forgiveness, those demons lose their connection to me. Meanwhile the offender has still made a deal with the devil.
Some days I’m aching, hurting inside, a little nagging sadness
reminds me I’m alive to the past
If I can ride it out,
I will once again be in the present, and even make a toast to the future
Lord, they tell me I have to hold him blameless, it’s the part of forgiveness that I don’t get.
Daughter, tell Me the truth.
I pour out my heart to Him, He knows what I feel. I am so angry.
I will help you go the rest of the way, He says and we begin to walk together over the bridge.
Half way across I come face to face with the devil. I tell him, I forgive my enemy, I hold him blameless. We walk on past him and he departs.
Jesus, why did you have me tell the devil that? Wasn’t I supposed to tell You?
Daughter, you knew I had it all along. You just needed to know and to declare it.
I saw then that the devil was pulling all the strings, in the offender’s life, in our lives. He was just having a field day keeping us on the hook.
Now, his snares are exposed and fraying.
I honestly don’t care what happens to the offender now. He isn’t my problem anymore.
I could not walk over the bridge by myself, but Jesus helped me.
Jesus walked me over the bridge. I faced my enemies and won.
Today, there is nothing wrong with me.
Today, I am experiencing the pain of witnessing painful things.
Today, I’m not crazy.
Today, I’m not worthless.
Today, I’m not stupid.
Today, I saw what I saw and see what I see.
Today, I lived what I lived and live what I live.
Today, don’t tell me to shut up, shut down and run away.
Today, I have as much right to be here as you do.
Today, I won’t apologize for living.
Today, I am alive.
We unwittingly break the bruised reeds, we crush the smoldering ones before we consider what bruised them or burned them in the first place. We lose our humility. The old saying “but for the grace of God go I” is not heard very often anymore among us. We think we can’t similarly be entangled. But that is not a Scriptural response. Did our Lord not say the devil seeks whom he may devour, and people around us are being devoured daily and we don’t even notice. If we take the time to listen, if we approach people with an understanding heart, in time they will trust us enough to tell what set them on destructive paths. Very rarely is it blind rebellion that leads them there.
Most often they got into situations they didn’t know how to get out of. Outward misjudgment is applied inwardly. Hopelessness and despair set in and they feel unworthy to be among the living stones. They are perceived by others and they perceived themselves as damaged goods. This is the most vulnerable and dangerous place of all. If they believe this lie, they will not take the way of escape when it is provided.
Are you nodding your heads in agreement? Are you thinking this is a nice message for someone else? Do you believe it is for other people’s children? Because, after all, we know if we raise our kids right they will sail through life, correct? Now, if we are honest we know that is not true! Life isn’t always easy, and we owe it to our children to let them know we understand that.
We rightly teach them “be careful little eyes what you see”, but this world has the capacity to show them plenty and not all of it by their own free will. Stumbling blocks are placed by the enemy, so let us not be so quick to condemn those who stumble. The quicker we can help them get up, the better. If we neglect this part of their training, they are left defenseless. When we only project what to do when all goes well in life, we give them no procedures to follow and no clear path of return in emergencies. We have to do better than that. Our children, starting at a very early age, need to hear that they can come to us with any problem. Even if they think they did something wrong or if someone does something to them that unsettles them or that they feel ashamed of, there is only love here to help them through it. We tell ourselves this is a conversation for someone else to have on another day, but it is a conversation for us to have today and every day.
You have taken our hope and shredded it. You bastard! I hate you.
This is such a socially unacceptable thing to say in Christian circles. Its socially unacceptable and probably very counterproductive, but it is difficult not to hate when you survey what is left of this war zone that used to be your life. Your family members are wounded, crawling in search of care. The carnage is crushing.
In spite of sincere utterances of blind faith forgiveness, severing the demonic bands that hold us to your strongman there are moments when hopelessness deafens our ears to hope. My dying children gasp for breath, I fear, I mourn, and I hate the destroyer.