I find myself reeling a bit this week.
A good friend of mine recently made a comment along the lines of “Healing is a Strange Thing”. And she’s right. It’s a very odd thing.
Just when you are so certain that healing is completing its course, strange things happen that open up old wounds, allowing them to sting. To hurt. And the healing begins all over again. Not from the raw beginning, no. Because much healing has taken place. But rather, from a new layer. A new beginning point. Almost how like a scab that is repeatedly scraped off, eventually DOES become smaller and more “healed” every time it scabs back over. Or, at least, that’s how I think healing works in theory.
God has done the miraculous in my life; in our family’s life. He has healed. He continues to heal. How often have the words of Jeremiah 17:14 poured from my lips and my pen:
So many times. Over and over. And He has. He has healed my heart. My kid’s hearts. Through so many different ways. He is my praise.
And yet, there remains healing to be done. And I wonder if there always will. And I wonder, if the only true healing, will come when this broken world is no more. Or when we are called home.
This week, I am reeling.Every time a sin, a crime, a story that hits close to home occurs somewhere in the limited sphere of my world, it rocks it to a bit. Such is the happenings of this week. And my heart breaks all over again. For the victims. For the family of the arrested. Even for the accused. For the community. For my kids. And yes, for my own self-centered soul. It hurts. So much.But there is also a part of me that wants to run to the family of the accused and grab them and tell them “I know it’s black right now! I know it’s ugly and horrible and horrendous and so many other adjectives right now! But there is hope! God is still God! Even when you may doubt that He is not!”
But those are not words that are easy to hear. Not in the aftermath of tremendous trauma. I know, because I certainly couldn’t hear them at one time. No, it’s taken day after day after day of God’s patient–I don’t know–consistency? to lead me to the belief that He is still who He says He is. And honestly, there are still days when He has to lead me there–sometimes I quietly follow that leading, other times I go, but it’s with much kicking and screaming.
There was an article published this week in Christianity Today, that also has opened up these raw wounds. It was an important article. An important read. It was in response to a grave mistake that The Leadership Journal division of Christianity Today made a couple of weeks ago, in publishing an article written by a sex offender. The title was “My Easy Trip From Youth Minister to Felon” It was an article that made me sick. For the author did not call his sin for what it was—sexual molestation. I don’t remember the particulars–I didn’t want to!!–but I do remember that it was chock full of justification. Of rationalization. And very light on remorse. Remorse that should wreck a person.Rightfully so, Leadership Journal removed the article and published an apology after much public outcry.
Partly in response, Maureen Garcia wrote an article for Christianity Today titled “How it Feels to Love and Hate a Sex Offender” It’s a sobering reminder of the impact a sexual predator has on his own family. I in no way share this so as to diminish the horrific impact on the primary victims–the victims who are directly victims because of the acts violated upon them at the hands of the abuser. I know too much in my own life, to never diminish that nightmare.But Garcia does give voice to secondary victims–the spouse, the children, the family, the church, the community–of the predator. And it’s a valid voice. Her words ring true. Many of the things she had to say, I could echo right along with her, like:
One of the legacies of being groomed and betrayed by a sex offender is a horrific ambivalence. We struggle with experiencing and processing more than one opposing emotion at one time. I would feel love and hate in the same moment or pleasure combined with disgust and aversion. I would feel empathy for my ex-husband punctuated by horror.
It is like being ripped in shreds. Betrayal rends. It is an attack on one’s integrity. I felt no longer whole. I was fractured. I was shattered. And, reality took on a surreal quality. It seemed as if everything I knew to be true was a mere veil upon a dark writhing reality that lay beneath… lurking, waiting like quicksand for me to step in the wrong place.
These words are true. So true. And so, there is a part of me this week that is reeling. Grieving afresh. Hurting anew.
And, there’s an added element when you are the (ex)-pastor’s wife. The (ex)-youth minister’s wife. Who had a good marriage. Who believed the future held ministry together. Who deeply hurt for her church family as they, too, suffered horrific pain. Not that it is worse than what Garcia experienced. There is no “worse”. There is only different.
There is only grief.
But I do not grieve without hope.
Because, with the passage of time, my God continues to repair these hurting places. And it is miraculous. There is no other words for it. And, unlike some of the unfortunate experiences that Garcia experienced, I have been completely supported by my church, other churches in the area, and my community. I do not remember one single word of admonish toward me or my children. Not one single hurtful word. Only words of love, protection and support. And those words continue to this day. And God uses all of that to foster deep healing in my soul. And in the souls of my children.
So yes, this week I find myself deeply sad. And saddened. Saddened by sin. Angry at sin. Heartbroken for many, many, many victims–both primary and secondary. And I cry out to God “Come, please!” I write. I weep. I question. I ache.
But I keep pressing forward. I keep moving forward, because I do not grieve without hope.
And I am reminded deeply, deeply, that my God gave His Son for my sins. And for my healing. Because of His love for me. For my children. And for victims. And yes, I have to force myself to write it, because it is truth–for sinners that commit heinous, nearly un-forgiveable crimes. He even died for them. As hard as it is to stomach that idea. But it is truth.
And that very same sacrifice that brings about forgiveness also brings about healing in my soul, for Isaiah 53:5 is also truth: