Friday, June 10, 2016

The Intersection of Love and Life

Recently, a person I follow on Twitter posted something that said, "Every connection you make today is divine. Honor this and you know it to be true."

An atheist who follows me retorted back, "every connection? So when paedophile clergy connect with children, is this divine? Sweeping statements eh?"

He thought he'd gotten me. He thought he'd proven his point. He was wrong. I know a little something about the divine connection between people, even the connection made between an abuser and the one who is abused. I'll do it using my own experience of having been a child molested by a pedophile.

My background

At the age of 4, my stepfather began molesting me. It continued to escalate over the next 5 years, though he never penetrated me with his penis, the damage was no less devastating to me. Anyone who kids themselves into thinking that child sexual abuse does not do any real harm to the child is in serious denial. It's taken me years to heal those wounds, and I am still - at age 40 - finding places that are not fully healed and must be treated.

It didn't stop until I told my mother for the second time. It was the third time she'd been confronted with what he was doing and it took that third time for her to act on my behalf, to report it to the authorities and finally put an end to that situation. You can better believe I was one angry, wounded, and deeply confused little girl at the end of that journey. I didn't know where to turn or who to trust.

Where was Love? Where was God?

It's natural to ask, because I certainly did, where was God in the middle of all this? Why let a man like that into my life? Why give me to a mother who lacked the courage to stand up for me? Why allow me to be hurt that way without sending someone to defend me?

The Intersection of Life and Love

Life is a school and love is the lesson to be learned. At age 4, I was being given very important lessons in loving other people: Loving someone else does not always feel good. Loving someone else does not protect you from getting hurt. Most importantly, I was learning that the people who hurt you the most are the people in most need of love. 

The people who hurt you most test your capacity to love people. They make you aware of where your faults and flaws in loving others lie and where you still need to work on your ability to love. The rewards for loving them are as abundant as the wounds that are left by trying.

Love and the Broken People

My mother and my stepfather both were incredibly broken people. Broken people hurt the people around them, not because they want to hurt them, but simply because they are broken and they can't do anything but hurt other people. They are so broken that they can't hold onto the love that's given to them and they can't give love because they don't have it to give. There is only one way to heal them: love them. And this is why God gives children into those people's lives, because children are the only ones who know how to love without expecting anything from other people.

I had to become broken myself to realize this truth. My journey toward healing was a long one. I hurt a lot of people on the way because of my own brokenness. It wasn't that I wanted to hurt them or intended to hurt them. It was simply a by product of being so deeply hurt and wounded myself. The thing that gave me courage to change was recognizing how badly I'd hurt the people I loved most with my brokenness. The thing that gave me courage to seek healing and forgiveness was the love that was being poured into me by those who could love me past my brokenness.

It is love that gives them the courage to reform their lives. It was my love for my mother that inspired my trust in her, and her love for me that inspired the courage that finally allowed her to do the right thing on my behalf. Without that love, she would never have found the courage to change.

It was his love for me that gave my stepfather the courage to admit what he'd done to the police rather than forcing me to go through investigations that might have damaged me further. It was the acknowledgement that he'd deeply wounded us all that led him to seek counseling above and beyond what was required when he got out of prison. Without that love, he'd never have found the courage to change his life.

Preparing Me for Today

My mother and my stepfather were allowed into my life to prepare me for a role in leadership. Leaders have to be tough. They have to learn to stand up to bullies, to speak up and continue speaking out for justice even when it seems that no one is listening. They have to be willing to take the inevitable blows that will come their way so that they can stand up for those who have no one else that is willing to stand up for them.

What I went through was tough, but I am tougher. I am a better person today for all that I was allowed to go through as a child. I was tested, refined, and allowed to see that my story is my power and the most important weapon I can use in the fight against injustice. Because that is how I beat a man who was 20 years and 180 pounds heavier than I was - with my story.

Yes, There was a Divine Connection

Yes, there was most definitely a divine connection between my stepfather and myself. There still is. Today, my stepfather is a different man. Today, he is a man whom I respect and who respects me. Today, I call him a friend. He has helped and supported me and my family over these last three years in more ways than I can count. 

Did God want him to abuse me? No. Did God need him to abuse me to teach me how to be a leader? No, I could have learned that through the example of my stepfather if he had chosen a different path. However, God allowed the abuse for the same reason He allows us all to use our free will for evil: To stop us, even at the last moment, from doing an evil thing is to also prevent us, even at the last moment, from being able to choose to do the right thing instead. And He will never interfere with our ability to choose to do the loving thing, the good thing, the better thing.

If we choose to do evil, He won't stop us. But what He does promise the victims is that He will bring better things for us out of whatever was intended for evil. He does promise that He will transform that wound and those scars into the shield and the weapon we can use to defend those who can't defend themselves, and to heal those who have been similarly wounded.

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