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Father, Forgive them

There has been silence in my soul these past few days. Thursday was a brutal day and I am struggling to find words to describe that experience. So much of what I experienced cannot be put into words – darkness, hostility and anger in the room was physically palpable. I don’t think I spoke very much at all on Friday – no words came. But my heart and mind continue to churn over the experience.

Yesterday, I went to a friend’s wedding which was absolutely beautiful. But tears and words came in the middle of a beautiful song part way through the service. So here are my words that have been born out of utter silence.

I went to the police five years ago out of concern for my siblings. I heard a rumour that one of them was being abused, a rumour that is left unproven, but it tugged at my heart so much that I wanted to do everything possible to protect them, so that they would not have to endure what I have. I believed (and still believe) that if my Dad continues to deny the extent of his actions and my mom sides with him and excludes me from the family, that not only are the children still at risk but the chances of any of them speaking up was pretty slim given that they now see what happens when you break the family rule. I’m reading an interesting book right now about the Evangelical church’s response to abuse and it astonishes me how similar my experience is to many others. It also confirms for me what I have always known – my Dad, who made multiple promises to me to stop, cannot stop until he stares his sin in the eye. I heard a story about a pedophile who wanted to join a church community who went to the pastor and said that he cannot be left alone with children – I think it takes a huge amount of recovery and courage and self knowledge to be able to admit such things and ask for help in order to live a healthy and life giving life. As long as there is secrecy and denial, there is room for urges to come to fruition. The literature/research out there is frightening and discouraging when it comes to chronic offenders and the only hope for recovery I believe is through the cross of Christ and through a God who works in people’s lives in amazing and wonderful ways. It is through God that I have hope for my dad – that when he finally admits his sin in his entirety, he will experience the incredible love and joy and contentment that I have come to know and that his life can be used in a powerful way to come alongside other people who struggle with the same temptations. Such is the economy of grace – that God can use our ugliest moments and turn them around for his glory. This economy of grace is where I find my hope.

Anyways, my main reason for going to the police was out of love and concern for my siblings – and this reason was read in court. Four of my siblings were there and heard this – and they all shook their head as if to say they did not agree with my concern. I do not read minds, so I cannot know for sure what they were thinking.

But as I watched them, tears filled my eyes. It seems my hope and prayer for them have been answered – it seems that they have not experienced the horrific things I have experienced. This is good – if this is true, then they will not know the nightmares, the flashbacks, the anxiety, the depression, the shame, the pain that I know. There is joy and thanksgiving that fills my heart in this.

But at the same time, if it is true that they have been spared, they will never know what they’ve been spared from. Nor will they know the cost of such sparing.

And instead, they may see me as the angry, crazy sister who caused the family trouble.

Yesterday during the wedding, we sang “Make me a channel of your peace” – a prayer that is attributed to St. Francis. The words are so beautiful that I can’t help but post them:

Make me a channel of your peace

Where there is hatred, let me bring your love

Where there is injury, your pardon Lord

And where there’s doubt, true faith in you

 

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul

 

Make me a channel of your peace

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope

Where there is darkness, only light

And where there’s sadness, only joy.

 

Tears hit me during the phrase praying that I may understand, not seek to be understood. Well, truth be told, tears weld up with the whole song. My calling in life and as a Christian is not to satisfy my own needs… but to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and to love those whom God has placed in my life. Oh how I long for my family to understand – but I am to understand, and not seek understanding. I am to love without seeking love in return. I am to console without seeking to be consoled.

In that moment, I turned to God – for this seems impossible, the bar is too high. And then, I heard Christ’s words on the cross: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Christ is the embodiment of the prayer of St. Francis. He loved, as those around him hated him. He was misunderstood with a vengeance. He suffered the brutality and humility of the cross and the scorn of the ones he came to save.

And while I do not wish to equate my suffering with Christ’s, I feel comforted in knowing that Christ knows what I am experience… in Him, I find understanding, love, consolation. There’s a verse that I can’t find right now, but keeps coming to mind over the past day – that in suffering for righteousness’ sake, we partake in the sufferings of Christ and that it is indeed a privilege to do so. I’m not sure I’ve come to peace with the idea of me suffering as a privilege. But there is great comfort and hope in knowing that God knows deeply the suffering I am going through and that there is nothing that will separate me from that love of God. And more than that – that I now share in Christ’s suffering.

And so, today I look back on Thursday, and picture each of my family who were there, and as I do, I cry out to God “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”

 

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  1. July 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I know of the scripture you refer to concerning partaking of sufferings with Christ and it brings to mind another scripture: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Rom 8:18 I thank God for the promise that no matter the sufferings we go through in this finite life, we will partake of His glory for eternity. It keeps me going and pressing on just knowing that one day, one day this life and all of its troubles, pains and disappointments will be cast off and we will enter eternity. Until then, I pray God’s strength for you and all who are facing trying times.

    You’re in my thoughts and continual prayers,
    Rebecca

  2. Cathy Noble
    July 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I can only thank God for that very same song, “Make me a channel of your peace…” is the reason I am still here. It was on an album our family got when I was a child, and I likely wore out the album… I just claimed it back & need to check with Mum if I can keep it. This song is what got me through my teens. It gave my soul recognition of God’s purpose for me, and gave me hope to know God’s in control and allows us to go through things in preparation for what He knows, we will end up doing to help others by becoming a channel of His perfect peace.
    Blessing,
    Cathy

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