One of my favorite family pics of almost all of us a few years ago!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Forgiveness Doesn't Come As Easily As I Had Hoped

Sometimes, words come back to haunt me.  About a month ago, I wrote in a post entitled “A Big Fat Zero In Parenting 101”:

“After a lifetime of dealing with never ending problems, I sympathize with those who have found themselves in similar positions and don’t have the support system or coping skills or knowledge to push through the pain and get through a problem without hurting their child.  It seems odd that I would feel that way about the people who hurt the children I take care of – but I empathize because I can see how it easy it would be for me to go completely over the edge and hurt another person.  There, but for the grace of God, go I.  Those words play over and over in my head. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not condoning hurting your children or anyone else. And I’m not excusing it. I’m simply stating what other people might recognize but not admit.  We all have that innate capacity for evil and we are all selfish to some degree and those qualities, left unchecked and without God, can yield some horrific results.”

Last week, one of my young children was traumatized and abused by someone in our close circle who was supposedly taking care of my child for a few days while we were out of town.  Obviously, I can’t go into detail because there is both a criminal investigation and a child welfare investigation as a result of the abuse.  But I’m not feeling as forgiving and understanding as I was just a short time ago.  Actually, I’m pissed.  (And yes, that would be another one of those words I use in desperation that is not fit for public school or lady-like conversation.  But I think I’m entitled at this moment.)

In re-reading my words, I notice that like a good lawyer, I qualified my statement.  I understand that some people are in a position of weakness through choice or circumstance and they feel trapped and alone and abuse or neglect happens.  But such is not the case here.

I’m pissed that another human – who has plenty of financial, physical and moral support from relatively sane people – even when he doesn’t deserve it – still chooses evil.  I’m pissed that a man who professes to believe in God uses his power and control to harm people he perceives as weaker or not worthy - just because he feels like it.  I’m pissed that I trusted him.  I’m pissed that the legal and child welfare system may not provide justice to my child.  And I’m agonizing over the fact that I have spent the last 17 years of my life trying to protect children who have been severely harmed by others. Now the abuse happens on my watch and a child who was mostly protected up to this point is hurt. 

I don’t know what else to say except, “Please God, don’t let the damage be permanent. And show me how to forgive."

Postscript 1:  For those of you who might be inclined to think forgiveness means restoring the relationship with the abuser - that is not the objective.  In fact, it is probably dangerous - especially for my children.   Moreover, those of you who think I should wait for him to repent or be sorry for what he did before I forgive, may misunderstand that I am the one harmed if I can't forgive.  It can eat away at me for years and still have absolutely no influence on the outcome of the abuser's heart or of the legal system.   I understand that both intellectually and in my heart.  

Postscript 2:  I am often amused by the role irony plays in my life. I just realized that I was out of town teaching others about biblical peacemaking and forgiveness at the time my child was harmed.  Maybe God needed for me to see the obvious connection.

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