For the last week, I’ve been hanging. Just sitting. Sometimes the excitement bumps over so I thought I’d share.
I’ve read other blogs and commented lightly, kept up with emails, done a little work for a new friend. At the moment, I’m eating eggs and spinach. If envy hasn’t swamped your boat just yet, give it a minute.
*pause and think calmly whilst I finish eggs*
Thoughts go running by, most of which are not the least bit naughty. I killed several spiders but did not think badly of them for hiding in my covers preparing to nibble my flesh. I took a few cleansing breaths before sending them on to spider heaven. I did not hold their wicked ways against them for, you see, that’s how spiders are. The very nature of spiderhood involves skulking and nibbling. You can’t fault a spider for acting like an arachnid.
I took several walks of a tranquil and peaceful nature and was sniffed inappropriately by a dog. This is not funny. In fact, it’s quite invasive. My thoughts remained all peaceful and stuff for, after all, dogs sniff. They tend to like aromas of a personal nature. They lick their backsides for goodness sake. I hold no grudge against this or any other pup for sniffing inconveniently. I did, however, glare at the owner who should have used a regular leash instead of a twenty foot retractable line particularly with a dog prone to olfactory mishaps. After a few moments of near-naughtiness, I moved on with my life.
Ida Mae (you may be asking)—this is way cool but why-oh-why are you tormenting us with the minutia of your serene and peaceful ordinariness?
*pause and discuss amongst yourselves whilst I get tea*
The Part Where The Accuser of the Brethren Shifts Blame. We are all Quite Shocked Really.
When I left the beast, I was accused of many things. Most are not appropriate for a PG-13 blog such as this, however two of the most common (and least interesting) come to mind.
- I was told the anti-husband was not angry, no sir. Indeed, I was the one with anger issues. I even received a book in the mail on just this subject from one of his helpful new friends.
- I was accused of the sin of unforgiveness and informed that I would not have my own sins forgiven. (The beast is quite helpful with it comes to scriptural interpretations and such, especially as applied to my flawed and deficient selfhood.)
Because I really do care, these accusations bother me. I do not want to be a bitter, angry woman going through life biting the heads off small animals. So what’s a girl to do?
This one prays a bunch. I ask the Father to reveal those things hidden in my heart He doesn’t much like. Through long years of association, I know He’s faithful to do just that. Most recently, He released me from this fear that I’m carrying about a root of bitterness inside a heart too hard to know any different.
Let’s Be Clear
For decades now, I’ve taught the kids we are not responsible for someone else’s behavior. We are only responsible for our reaction to that behavior.
Be angry– sin not.
Anger in its purest form is not a sin. It is neutral, like any other emotion in a range the Lord provided. God gets plenty angry. Just like everything else, anger has a purpose.
We all know anger can be mishandled. “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Right? Anger dwelt upon, buried deep, allowed to ferment below the surface can lead to sin. The scripture describes this as a root of bitterness, springing up, defiling many. Pretty accurate description all around.
So am I angry? Not really. In fact, I had to *become* angry before I could find the motivation to finally leave.
I needed the energy, the force, the strength within the emotion to propel me to righteousness—to doing right actions. The fancy term for this is righteous indignation. I had to stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior, force my eyes wide-open to see the wrong done to my children. I had to get up and walk out, knowing I was right to remove them from the reach of someone who continually and purposefully harmed them at every opportunity.
But I do not live in a state of perpetual rage. I’ve got my moments sure but anger is not my go-to emotion. When I see injustice I feel sorrow. When I hear another victim’s story, I feel their pain within my own. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I figure their mommy didn’t teach them any better.
And when I recall abusive events, I bleed. I am not an angry person.
Forgiveness is another matter. I firmly believe half the reason I couldn’t get free of abuse? Too much forgiveness.
*lets pause and think calmly on this whilst you put away your stones*
Our definition of forgiveness is much too squishy. My definition of forgiveness followed the typical party line:
- Make Excuses
- Find a Rational (rotten childhood, poor upbringing)
- Forget (pretentious really but most of us are pretty good at faking)
- Wipe the Slate Clean
- Move on and Keep Quiet (never mention it again)
Forgiveness doesn’t broadly encompass all topics. We need to make finer distinctions. Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation nor is it co-joined with a case of self-induced amnesia.
We do not become suddenly stupid.
I forgave on a regular and continual basis. I did not hold a record of accounts nor did I demand repayment. In fact, with every infraction, we started all over. The problem here is the beast never actually repented nor did he *ask* for forgiveness. How could he when he believed he did no wrong? He was sorry all right—sorry he got caught, sorry I was upset, sorry I was rocking his boat with my feelings. He wanted me to shut up and move on so he could go back to doing the exact same thing, over and over and over.
Forgiveness is not:
- Reconciling with someone who has not changed, nor has the slightest inclination to do so
- Pretending nothing ever happened
- Giving someone a free pass to start all over with no account for past behavior
Forgiveness means we do not pursue our own course of vengeance but turn the matter over to the Heavenly Court. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Sometimes we forget that second part.
Our Father has promised to repay our enemies. When we forgive, we let go and let God be Who He is– Righteous King and Judge. We can do this because we believe and acknowledge His position, power and authority and we trust His wisdom and timing.
This whole subject of forgiveness came to a screeching crescendo in my mind and heart when a dear friend of mine stepped way outside her comfort zone and shared her agonizing story. Right now, she is going through her own version of hell. In fact, she endured yet another slapdown just this morning.
Years ago, she found herself in a tight spot and took something that belonged to another. In time, she was caught and sentenced. She spent years faithfully repaying her debt. There is no doubt she repented and has offered her heartfelt apology again and again. The aggrieved party, however, will not let go. This person hounds and pursues, intent on destroying her life, livelihood, and peace of mind.
The former victim has become the abuser.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
I have forgiven the beast but this time around, my eyes remained wide open. I recognize he has never repented. He has never acknowledged the sin of abusing, berating, and bullying his own family on a broad scale, much less apologized for the hundreds and hundreds of incidents he created along the way to punish us for our many sins against him. He fully believes that everything is the fault of one person and one person only (and that would be me.) Even now, when no one from his immediate family will have a thing to do with him, he refuses to accept any responsibility.
That’s fine. It’s now between him and his Maker. Someday, he will answer for what he’s done.
Perhaps with time, he’ll actually repent. That’s fine too, but I’m not counting on it.
After all, what can you expect? Like spiders and dogs, he just did what came natural.