Category Archives: Forgiveness

Revenge Is Sweet, Or So They Say

Standard

That I can remember, no one has ever asked me if I’ve wanted to exact revenge against my father for everything he did to me when I was a child. But if anyone were to ask me, my answer would be an unqualified, categorical no.

I don’t remember ever wanting revenge against him or any of the people who hurt me. It’s certainly not because I’m holy or anything like that. I’m definitely no saint. I mess up on an extremely regular basis, and 1 John 1:9 is a well-worn and much-loved verse for me,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, NKJV.

Another favorite, and something I cry out to God all the time, is,

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

Thankfully Romans 7:24 is followed immediately by 7:25,

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:25, NLT.

And again straightaway after that comes Romans 8:1,

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1, NLT.

I apologize for that little rabbit trail, but I’m trying to make a point. I am a sinner because I was born in sin, and because I was born into a world that belongs to Satan. Thank God, Jesus rescued me out of that world by dying on the cross for me, so that now I’m forgiven, and I no longer belong to the devil, I belong to God. But I still commit sins, even though I desperately don’t want to. That was my whole point in quoting the above verses.

Avenging a wrong committed against someone is something that really should be left in God’s hands. God is the only one who knows what really happened, the only one who knows the true motivations of the people involved, and the only one capable of dispensing perfect justice to all the parties connected to the situation.

Seems to me, if someone gets revenge, they’re trying to get justice for a situation on their own, taking control of it out of God’s hands. And while God does know all the facts, the person taking justice into their own hands will only know about the situation from his own perspective, which will always be skewed, because there’s no way any human being can know everything about what happened. Only God can know that. That’s why God says,

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. ~ [quoted from Deuteronomy 32:35, NLT]; Romans 12:19, NLT.

I think people take vengeance into their own hands because they get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God to do it (if they believe He exists), or the legal system (if they trust it). Nowadays people don’t trust the legal system, or if they do, it moves too slowly for them, so they decide they have to do it for themselves.

If you think the legal system is slow, God is slower. You have to wait for the person you want justice for to die before you’ll get it. That’s why I say people get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God’s justice. Now, sometimes God will act through the legal system, but oftentimes He chooses to wait until the Final Judgment after the person dies.

I don’t know why that is, and it’s probably not for us, or specifically me, to know, at least not this side of Heaven ~ God’s sovereignty, and His higher ways (Isaiah 55:9-10), and all that ~ though sometimes I really wish God would clue me in.

But He doesn’t, and I have to trust ~ I choose to trust ~ that God is better at being God than I am, something I already knew, by the way, as I wrote about in a previous post (I Would Make a Terrible God). Because, as I said in that post, being God is God’s job, not mine.

So I’ll let God do the avenging for me. I’ve done the best I can to forgive those who need to be forgiven, and certainly there are many on whom I could get revenge, but I firmly believe that’s God’s job, as borne out by Scripture. I’ll let God be God and do my avenging for me. It makes my life much easier. I already have enough to think about without adding that!

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ~ Matthew 6:34, KJV.

Ideas Flitting In and Out

Standard

I’ve tried to think of a good title for this post, and I finally came up with the above offering. I thought of My Brain Has Flown the Coup or possibly, I Have No Idea. Or Is It Ideas? Or maybe, Depression Is a Mack Truck and I’ve Been Mowed Down.

That last should tell you something about my state of mind, and it’s also the main reason why I haven’t posted in almost a month (my last published post was on May 14th ~ Of Life and Death, and Life Again). The main reason I’m so depressed seems to be because of the death of Ravi Zacharias, but I don’t really understand why that would be so. I know where he is, and I know that I will get to meet him in person one day, as well as, and even more importantly and marvelously, the fact that I’ll be able to meet Jesus and greet Him face to face ~ always my fondest and deepest desire.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to shake this deep funk of a depression that I’ve fallen into, and it started when I heard the news that Ravi Zacharias was dying, and then that he had died.

It feels like I’ve fallen ~ or been pushed or thrown ~ to the bottom of a deep, deep, waterless well, from which there is no exit. And if I cry out for help the only answer I get is the echoes of my own shrieks and cries. The darkness is so thick that I can’t see my hand in front of my face, but if I feel for the walls, my fingers touch slimy stones up as high as I can reach. I feel like I’m about four years old, and I’m terrified. Someone has thrown me down here somehow, and abandoned me here, and I don’t know why.

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

What I’ve just described has all the earmarks of a memory, and I wish, oh how I WISH, I didn’t have to be alone while it’s coming up!! I know God is with me. He’s always with me, but it would be so much easier if there were a physical, trustworthy person here. I haven’t seen McT in person ~ in his office ~ since the quarantine began in March. I’ve had phone appointments with him, and I’ve so appreciated his willingness to do that, but there are times when you just need a physical presence. He does read these blog posts, however, so I know he’ll find out what’s going on soon enough.

In light of what just surfaced, and from what I’ve come to understand about Ravi’s position in my life, if I can word it that way, vis à vis him being one of only two or three positive male role models that I’ve ever had in my life, maybe this depression has been about feeling abandoned when he died. While I know that Ravi didn’t abandon me, I think his death triggered this memory, and the abandonment contained therein.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel! What could a four year old child possibly have done that would have warranted being treated like that?!?!

I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them! I FORGIVE THEM!!!

I forgive them, and I ask God to forgive them. I pray that God forgives them.

Now I just feel inexpressibly sad. Sad for the little girl that was me, who had to live through such hell. I used to hate her, but now I love her soooSOOO MUCH!! She was so incredibly brave and courageous! I’m crying now at how valiant and lionhearted she was throughout the years of her existence. If it hadn’t been for her the rest of us would never have made it. That was Catherine Belinda for you! I celebrate you, Catherine Belinda, and I thank God that He created you!! I thank God that He created you first!!

God is good. God is good ALL the time, and I love Him so!!

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT.

Feeling the Divide

Standard

Earlier today I discovered that someone had used my debit card to steal $139 from my checking account using a website in Toronto, which meant that there was also a $1.11 credit card issuer cross-border fee, because the charge was made in a foreign country. The website was one I had used before, but the last time was over a year ago, so I knew this $140.11 wasn’t mine. So I immediately called my bank and disputed it, which meant I had to cancel the debit card and get a new one.

The lady on the phone told me it would take about ten days for the new card to arrive, as well as ten days for the $140.11 to be restored to my checking account, at which point I told her that I needed the card today, because I had to buy new batteries for my TV remote. The last batteries I bought only lasted one month.

Harrumph!! Lousy batteries!! And I can’t take them back to the store where I purchased them because I don’t have the receipt.

Arrgh!! Rats!!

I have a feeling I indirectly brought this on myself. I’m having a very difficult time making it to church on Sundays. I think I’ve mentioned before that I would make an excellent hermit (I Would Make a Great Hermit), and my hermiting desires are making it extremely difficult for me to do what I know is God’s will and get myself to church every Sunday,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another ~ and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV.

I’ve become aware that I’m not requiring enough of myself ~ especially in the area of church attendance. It was kind of like a revelation, and once I understood the problem, I could no longer ignore it. I could no longer skip church on Sundays just because I didn’t feel like going, even if they did live-stream the services ~ which they’d been doing for the last couple of months. I’d been using the fact that they were live-streaming the services as my excuse for not going. As long as I could watch the live-streamed service it was okay if I didn’t attend the service in person. I knew in my heart that I was lying to myself with that excuse, but at least I was hearing the Word being preached.

And then God showed me that I wasn’t requiring enough of myself, and that I had to start going to church again. It was no longer enough to watch the live-streamed service on my computer.

Rats!!

like staying home! I don’t want to leave my apartment!!

I made it to church for one Sunday after that revelation, but no more after that. After that first Sunday I knew I should continue going, but I just didn’t want to. I could feel myself making a conscious decision to not go ~ to disobey God and His Word,

To go against what you are told is like the sin of witchcraft. Not to obey is like the sin of worshiping false gods. You have turned away from the Word of the Lord. So He has turned away from you being king. ~ 1 Samuel 15:23, NLV (New Life Version).

I knew I was being disobedient, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving my apartment to go to church, so I stayed home, and asked God to forgive me for not going. Basically I used His grace as a convenient crutch, or should I say I abused His grace, something I’m not proud of.

And then the money was stolen from my checking account.

That sequence of events made an immediate connection in my mind. I don’t think God was punishing me for my disobedience, but I think it’s possible that my rebellion might have opened the door for the devil to gain a foothold. So I picked myself up and repented, truly this time.

And no matter how much I don’t want to go, I’ll make myself go to church!

As this whole thing evolved this afternoon and evening, I’ve felt extremely disappointed in myself, and I’ve had a hard time believing that God will protect me from the consequences of my behavior. I know He’s forgiven me, because His Word says He has, but actions have consequences, and I deserve to bear the brunt of those actions. I deserve the consequences. I don’t want them, but I deserve them, and that’s what I’m struggling with now. That and feeling like God is disappointed in me. That right there is very hard for me to deal with. I hate thinking that God could be disappointed in me!

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

Standard

It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

The Mystery of Forgiveness

Standard

The Bible says only God can forgive sins,

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is He saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” ~ Mark 2:5-7, NLT.

This is a mysterious thing to me, because, while I understand the part about God being the only one who can forgive sins, I don’t understand why God then says that we are to forgive people as well. He even says if we don’t forgive other people, then He won’t forgive us. How can we forgive anyone if He’s the only one who can forgive? Makes no sense to me,

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NIV.

It becomes more understandable, at least to me, if you think of sin as being against God and God alone, as King David said in Psalm 51 after he’d sinned with Bathsheba, and conspired to murder her husband, Uriah the Hittite,

Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:4, NLT.

But that still doesn’t explain why God requires us to forgive if He’s the only one who can forgive. How is it possible for us to do so if He’s the only one who can? I don’t get it!

I know from hard personal experience that forgiveness on my part is a good thing to do. I’ve actually made myself physically sick by holding on to unforgiveness towards my sister because I was so angry at her for something she did to me that was incredibly hurtful. When I finally forgave her I was instantly healed, and all the turmoil and confusion that had entered my life because of the bitterness and unforgiveness I had entertained towards her simply left, and I was at peace again. It was a wonderful object lesson, and not one I plan on repeating.

So regardless of whether I understand why I’m supposed to forgive, I’m going to continue to do so. It’s enough that God commands me to forgive, even if I don’t understand why. It’s kind of like your mother telling you, “Because I said so!” when you asked why you had to do something when you were a kid, only it’s God saying it. It has so much more meaning and significance when God says it, seems to me.

So that’s my rumination for today. I don’t necessarily need anyone to solve it for me. It’s just something I puzzle on periodically, is all.

Thanks for letting me meander! I love all my followers! I wish I had more!

Adulting Is a Four Letter Word

Standard

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to grow up. While I’m sixty-six years old chronologically, I’ve never felt older than sixteen, which is how old I, Sarah, was when I was created at the time of the gang-rape when Catherine Belinda was three years old.

That was when Harry got four of his cronies together, and the five of them decided that they were going to take Catherine Belinda to a house owned by one of them, and together the five of them would take turns raping her.

An innocent three year old tiny little girl!!

Harry!! How could you have done this!! What were you thinking!!

I weep for that innocent little girl that was me! I wish I could take her into my arms and do for her what was never done for me! I want to protect her as no one ever protected me!

How could they have done it God!! How could they have committed such an atrocity against an innocent child!!

Logically I know the answer to that question, but given the damage that one event has caused in my life, it’s hard to think about it logically, and everytime I read those cries above I start weeping for the little girl that was me all over again.

Before that event when we were three, we were already multiple, and Catherine Belinda, the original core personality, was doing her best to run things in the midst trying to protect herself from the hell of Harry’s constant abuse.

I, Sarah, didn’t exist at that point.

But during the gang-rape Catherine Belinda decided she was fed up with Harry’s lies and betrayals. She decided that this event was the ultimate betrayal on his part, and she decided that she was done.

She was DONE!!

She had to tell someone. She didn’t know who yet, but she’d find someone. She had to find a way to escape. She couldn’t stand it any longer. And everyone else inside could feel the certainty of her purpose, and they knew she was resolved to make good on this decision.

But they also knew that Harry was serious in his threats. He’d been threatening for at least a year at that point that he would kill her if she ever told anyone what he was doing to her, and he showed her that he was serious by playing Russian Roulette with one of his revolvers between her legs. And he didn’t just do it once. He did it on a regular basis to make sure everyone believed him.

I can only imagine the terror everyone must have felt everytime he pointed that gun at them!

So everyone inside made an executive decision that Catherine Belinda couldn’t be allowed to make good on her promise to find someone to tell about Harry’s abuse, and specifically, the gang-rape that had just occurred. They all concluded that she had to be removed from the scene, and someone else had to be created to take over for her, so she was hidden away and put to sleep, and I was created.

God is the one who gave me the gift of multiplicity, and I’m so grateful for it, because that’s what helped me to survive throughout my childhood. God is also the one who created each new alter everytime there was a need for one, as there was on that day when Catherine Belinda rebelled and had to be taken out of the system. I fully understand why she did it, but she had to be stopped, or Harry would have killed us. He’d made that abundantly clear.

So God created me, Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, to take over for Catherine Belinda, and He named me Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. He chose those names because He wanted me to know that someone loved me, and specifically, how much He loved me.

He also had to create twelve or thirteen other new alters because trauma of the rapes was so great, but that is a story for another day.

When He created me, chronologically we were three years old, but I was sixteen. Don’t ask me to explain how that works, because I can’t. All I know is that I was sixteen in a three year old body. I think it had something to do with being able to handle more responsibility than any three year old could possibly manage.

There are certain things one expects of an adult, and in my case, a Christian adult. Things like reading my Bible on a regular basis, going to church every Sunday, controlling my temper, not being rude to other people, getting and keeping a job and supporting myself financially, keeping my home neat and clean, and taking proper care of my cat. These are examples of activities normal adults engage in as a part of daily life.

Actually, I’m pretty much making all that up, because I have no idea what normal adults do in their daily lives. For one thing I doubt if there’s any such thing as a “normal” adult in today’s society, and for another, since I’ve never been an adult, I have no idea what they do. The things I mentioned are things I’d like to be doing in my daily life were I living even a semblance of a normal life.

Now that I’ve figured out this thing, what do I do about it? First off, I need discipline. All the things I want to be doing require a certain amount of discipline, and discipline is what I lack most of all. A few of the things I mentioned above I manage to do quite well, for instance, not being rude to others.

Everything else? Not so much. So, as I started out saying at the beginning of this post, I need to grow up. I also need to figure out how to discipline myself, so that I’m doing what I want to be doing on a daily basis.

HELP ME, LORD!!

The Fifth Commandment

Standard

The Bible tells us that we’re to honor our parents,

Honor your father and mother (which is the  first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. ~ Ephesians 6:2-3, NLT.

When the Apostle Paul said this, he was quoting the Fifth Commandment from Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16,

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. ~ Exodus 20:12, NASB.

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. ~ Deuteronomy 5:16, NKJV.

That commandment doesn’t make any exceptions. You’re supposed to honor your father and mother unless they have three legs (nope, at least partly because almost no one has three legs). Or, you’re supposed to honor your parents unless they crash your car. Nope, sorry, it doesn’t say that. Or, how ’bout, you’re supposed to honor them unless they’re mean to you and beat you and rape you all the time. Nope, sorry, it doesn’t say that either. All it says is, Honor your father and your mother… 

Now, I love the Bible. It’s my very favorite book in the whole world, and I also love God and desire to serve Him with my whole heart. So if God tells me to honor my parents, it seems logical to me that He’ll provide a way for me to do so, regardless of how badly they treated me, and whether they actually did anything honorable or not.

And thankfully, God did show me a number of ways where I could honor them.

For example, they got me piano lessons from the time I was five until I was ten or eleven, with my great-aunt Helena, Harry’s aunt. I hated having to practice the whole six years, but now, as an adult, I’m so glad I had those lessons. I gained a life-long love of classical music, as well as music in general, and the music theory and ear-training I was given during my lessons has stood me in good stead even today. I can identify the time signature of any piece of music almost immediately, a skill I was taught during my lessons. I can also easily carry a tune, and while I don’t have a beautiful singing voice, at least the people around me don’t have to plug their ears when they hear me sing.

My parents also blessed me with a keen intelligence, a logical and analytical mind, and a love of learning. I’ve been a voracious reader and a lover of words my whole life. When we went out to my great-aunt’s for piano lessons every Friday afternoon, once the lessons were over, we went to my grandmother’s for dinner that evening. (My great-aunt was my grandmother’s sister and my grandmother was Harry’s mother.) And while we were at my grandmother’s having dinner, my grandparents would play a spelling bee game with me. They would quiz me on how to spell really hard words. I used to love playing that game!

Harry is a highly intelligent man (he’s still living, though he wants nothing to do with me), and my mother was too, even though she always said she was stupid. She was extremely creative and artistic, and she loved working with flowers. She knew both the common and the botanical names of just about every plant God ever created, and she knew how to make beautiful bouquets with them. When I was little she used to decorate for weddings and celebrations at church, as well as for friends. She also painted in watercolor. There’s a great amount of artistic ability in my family, and my mother inherited a lot of it.

It also turns out that I inherited artistic ability from them as well, though I didn’t discover that until much later in life, when I was about 37.

I think of all the things my parents blessed me with, what I love most is the ability to think clearly and logically. And I think indirectly, they also gave me a love for the truth ~ which is probably why I love Jesus so much, because He is the highest Truth.

Once I was able to find ways in which I could honor my parents, it became easier to forgive them for all the bad they had perpetrated on me. I had been practicing forgiveness towards them for years already, but I had mostly been doing it by rote because God said I had to. Now that I could see that they weren’t ALL bad, it became a little easier. I would have continued to forgive them regardless, but easier is always better, because it’s, well ~ easier!

Praise God for easier, but I’ll do it whether it’s easy or hard!

Seventy Times Seven

Standard

I’m writing mostly about forgiveness today, and the Scripture passage on which I’m basing what I have to say comes from Matthew 18,

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” ~ Matthew 18:21-22, NLT.

Following is a post from the old blog that Google shut down. It was originally written in November of 2011, but considering that I still struggle in this area, it seems appropriate to repost it here. In doing so, hopefully I’ll gain new insight, plus McT will read it, and we’ll be able to discuss it when I see him next.

November 26, 2011

I recently had a new abuse memory of something my father did to me when I was little, at what age I’m not sure ~ it probably happened more than once. It surfaced completely unbidden one Sunday morning recently. I was taking a shower as I was getting ready for church, and I was wondering why taking showers is still so difficult for me, even though I’ve remembered what he did to me in the shower when I was two. It just seems like it shouldn’t be so hard for me if I’ve already remembered everything I need to know.

As I was thinking about that I started seeing these pictures in my mind of my father making me take showers with other men besides himself, and making me do bad things with them. It was like I was a baby prostitute, at least partly because I could see money exchanging hands as well. As the pictures came surging into my consciousness and I began to understand the gravity of what he had done to me, I started to feel nauseated, and I began to cry.

I was in shock. My feelings were a confused jumble of sadness, betrayal, rage, and pain. I hated my father, and I felt incredible shame that he had used me in this way. I had always thought that the only time my father used me with other men was during the gang rape when I was three. This new memory showed me that I was tragically and horribly wrong. All I could think of was, how could he treat me like that?!? Children are a gift! A GIFT!! He treated me like trash, and so did his friends. I felt unimaginable grief for the little girl that I was, knowing that I’d been treated in such an unspeakably horrible way.

Now that the memory has surfaced, I have to work at forgiving Harry, as well as the men he forced on me. The idea makes me mad because I didn’t deserve what they did to me, but God loves my father just as much as He loves me, regardless of his behavior towards me.

In addition, forgiveness in the Bible isn’t a suggestion, it’s a commandment. God says that if we don’t forgive those who sin against us, He won’t forgive us when we ask Him for it. It says in Matthew 6,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT. 

Aside from all that, on a purely personal and practical basis, holding unforgiveness against someone is bad for your health. Studies have shown that when you hold unforgiveness against another person, over time bitterness builds up and it can actually make you physically ill. I know this to be true from hard personal experience.

Additionally, forgiveness is solely for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving ~ in this case, me. It doesn’t in any way excuse the perpetrator, or say that what they did is now okay because you’re forgiving them.

With all of that said, I’ve come to realize that I still have areas of unforgiveness against my mom, mostly because she never protected me from Harry’s rage and abuse. During all the years when I was being beaten, raped, belittled, berated, denigrated, disparaged, and derogated, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, and told by my father everytime he did all this terrible crap to me, that he had to do it because God hated me, and that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face, not once did my mother stand up for me, or try to stop my father, or in any way try to protect me.

I’ve told her about what he did to me, and her response has always been that she saw bruises, and that if she had known it was sexual abuse the divorce would have happened a lot sooner than it did. The problem with that is that children die all the time from being physically abused, so her saying that to me means nothing. Plus, she abused me as well. I’ve remembered a number of times when I was an infant where my mother tried to kill me. She would try to drown me in the bathtub or suffocate me with a pillow, so one of my alters, Deadsally, would come out and make me stop squirming so my mother would think she’d succeeded and stop trying. I’ve also had at least one memory of her abusing me sexually as well.

It’s always been easier for me to forgive my mother because I’m just about positive that she’s multiple. I’d be very surprised if she actually remembered any incidents of abuse if I confronted her with them. I realize that her negations could just as easily be her attempt to remain in denial, but I’m also fairly positive that she was abused when she was a child, even though she says she wasn’t.

Another reason I think Mom is multiple is because as far back as I can remember, she would forget where she put things like her keys just minutes after she’d laid them down. And then she’d say things like, “Gremlins hid my keys, where are my keys?” Or she’d accuse my sister or me of hiding them to trick her. She was constantly putting things down, and then minutes later she wouldn’t be able to find them or remember where they were.

So the upshot of it all is that I have more forgiving to do than I had originally thought. It’s not something that I dread doing, or that will be impossible to manage, or anything like that. The Bible says that with God all things are possible, and that’s certainly true in this case. I’ve already forgiven both Mom and Harry for so many other things. This is just more of the same, and I’ll be able to do it with God’s help.

Sometimes I wonder, though. Will it ever end? Will the time ever come when I have nothing left to remember and nothing left to forgive them for?

Passive-Agressive Issues Notwithstanding…

Standard

I realized something the other day, or rather, the Lord showed me something. He showed me that I’ve been passive-agressively not paying Mom’s bills to get back at her for not protecting me from Harry when I was little, and for abusing me herself. It explains a number of things and I’m glad to know it, because now maybe I can do something about it.

I’ve managed to significantly lower, and maybe even ruin Mom’s credit rating because I haven’t paid her bills in a timely fashion. It’s not something I’m proud of, and I hope it’s fixable. It seems like it would be. All I’d have to do would be to consistently pay all her bills on time over a long period of time, and keep on doing it, and keep on doing it, etc., etc.

So anyway, once I realized it, I took it to therapy and asked Jeff to pray about it, and he did. So now I have to start paying the bills! I’ve lost any excuse for not doing it. (In case you can’t tell, I’m not crazy about paying bills, passive-aggressive issues notwithstanding.)

I’ve often pondered the wisdom and plan of God in making me the one who’s in charge of my mother’s affairs once she reached a point in her life where she couldn’t handle them on her own. If my sister had survived her battle with cancer it would have been her, but she didn’t, so it was left to me. I’ve never been any good at managing money matters, though I am pretty good at paying my bills on time. My sister, on the other hand, was always meticulous about those issues, about everything really, to the point of being completely anal about it.

I asked God once why He gave me the responsibility of taking care of Mom instead of my sister, because in many ways I’m no good at it. His answer to me was that while she had the skill, I have the heart, and heart is better. Which makes me wonder, did He remove her from the scene by having her get cancer?

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV.

I’m so very grateful for God’s mercy in all of this. In many ways I’ve completely bollixed  everything concerning Mom’s finances, but God is so good, and so kind to me! It’s hard for me to fathom sometimes. Despite my clumsy handling of her affairs, she still seems to be in fairly good shape, thank God.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gifts!!