Monday, October 17, 2011

How to handle a difficult thing of the past... "READ AT YOUR OWN RISK" This is a long and heavy post. Beware.

The title of this post is exactly what I'm writing about today... What do you do when something bad from almost 20 years ago keeps coming back to haunt you? It's not a recent thing...20 years is a long time.  I won't refer to this in the 3rd person b/c this is me. It's personal. In many ways, I'm an 'open book' and have no problem sharing my life with people. This is one of the more tough things to share, but I think it's important. I've gone through rounds and rounds of forgiveness, shedding resentment & bitterness and reminding myself that God sees all. And I know HE will handle this. So whats wrong with me?? Why won't this just go away? I can't even express all that happened, but I can say that it's bad enough to keep coming back around to mess with me. I think of myself as a God fearing, Jesus loving, wife and mom in a christian household, and I'm finding that I'm certainly not immune to the sting of when God allows bad things to happen to believers. Even 20 years later...there is still pain. So I'm asking, 'God, whats up with this?' What is the purpose in you allowing this? I know you were there. I know you saw me and I know you love me. And I thought I dealt with this already. So why? Your Word says in Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  So Lord, please show me how this is working together for my good?

There are lots of people involved...and this would probably mess people up if I give too many details here. I'm not doing this to 'mess people up' at all but to protect whoever I can...and to see if peace and rest might finally come to my heart and mind regarding this issue.  I'm by no means trying to be the person to execute the consequences of sin...thats clearly not my job. But I'm also having a hard time knowing there has been literally NO justice or remorse for a bad thing that happened....20 years me and possibly others. But what do I do?! Get over it? Move on? Or finally speak up and do what I can? I shouldn't say 'finally speak up'...I'm not really the keep it all hidden kind of girl. Although growing up, this was a kind of 'sweep it under the rug and maybe it will go away' situation, there have been people who I opened up to and shared my experience with. This brought tons of relief to just be able to get it all out and not carry this burden alone. Thank you to all who know, and were just good listeners. I also ask that if you do know, please don't post that you know. I won't be writing names or titles, to keep some level of decency. But keeping it all on the "DL" isn't working for me anymore for some reason.

I realize this may not make much sense without me actually telling you what here it is. When I was 9 years old a man in my family sexually molested me. More than once. He didn't come out and confess what he had done, but he got caught. Someone asked and I told on him. I know that in the grand scheme of things, there are so many worse things that could've happened to me and there are countless girls and women who go through this, and worse,  all the time. Does it make it any less serious? Any less painful? Any less significant to me? No. I write that part mainly to remind myself that it is was a significant part of my life. This was something that greatly affected me and changed something in my being. My enemy likes to mock my pain by saying 'are you still whining about this same thing even 20 years later?!' Or 'why don't you just get over this....move was the past....what could you do about it's too late." Lord help me and give me wisdom.

Twenty years later you'd think an issue is long gone in the past right? So why is it then, that after all my forgiveness and classes for my 'heart issues' I'm still feeling such a pit in my stomach? Why did I feel like I was about to throw up when I thought about it this morning? Why do I feel like I'm contributing to and allowing the danger and risk of others being hurt, if I don't speak up, now, after so much time? I don't know. Maybe it's because I am supposed to say or do something. Even now. Maybe I will spare someone from being hurt if I just open my mouth. Who knows if he might try it again....or has already tried it again. Maybe he wouldn't do it again. But maybe he would.  Is it worth the risk?? No way.

I've been thinking of myself in others' shoes so much lately....probably because I have my own kids now. If I didn't know that I was friends with someone who molested a child, and my kids were around him.....would I be ok with that? Wouldn't I want someone to tell me? Wouldn't I want to be warned? And not only my children, but would absolutely want to reconsider my own friendship with him! Wouldn't I think the man should be in jail for his actions or at least some sort of major counselling?  So that's what's heavy on my shoulders right now. Adults and kids are hanging out around him in complete confidence that he's just a great guy. Safe and trustworthy.  Now again, I want to say that EVERYONE has issues....everyone falls short...sins...messes up....but I can't help but recognize that this is a big deal and has major consequences....right?! I'm trying hard to not to crucify him, yet acknowledge that christian or not, family or not,  there's something really wrong here!

So if I confront this and ask them to either refrain from having people with kids around or to do something to show they care...or make some sort of move... the worst case scenario might be that my family lies, denies, and disowns me. Surely they would hate me or at least disregard the issue as in years past.  Best case scenario is this man breaks down before the Lord Jesus and confesses his need for Him. Repents, is saved, transformed and renewed. Is that even realistic? Oh how I long for that to happen...and truly for his sake. I've prayed countless times for this...and for years, but maybe it will take something like a real confrontation to be brought to his knees before God...'at the end of your rope,' so to speak. He is definitly not at the end of his least the last 20 years his life hasn't reflected that.

My husband has been wonderful in walking through this with me and reminding me that it is important and that this process in my heart is expected and ok. In so many ways, he has totally represented Jesus and so many times he has shown me the Father's heart during this. I'm so grateful to have him. He's been gentle and understanding when we've been intimate... the times I made him stop when I'd get the creepy feeling that he's doing something wrong to me, only to realize that it's because something this other man did when I hadn't even hit puberty. Knowing that it should be right and ok, and even a holy thing from God, but in the moment it felt so wrong and bad. My husband was kind and let me cry. He held me until I could calm down and hug him back. That's a good man.

Today I woke up thinking about my 3 daughters and how quickly they're growing and how much I love them. How I get anxious at the thought of  any harm coming to them. Of my responsibility to protect and care for them with everything inside me. And to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. That's alot to handle, no? I'm learning to give them over to God regularly and trust that our Father is good and loves them so much more than I do. Then I thought 'God loves everyone way more than any human to human love.'

I have personal history with a man who has a serious issue in his past. He's not alone in it, I know. Tons of men deal with this but I'm not refering to them. I'm refering to the 1 man who was supposed to be a caretaker for me and he hurt me. This is a big sin issue....a crime even. It is dangerous and a risk of causing major pain to people. This person doesn't claim to believe in God at all so I have a place in my heart that says 'well, what should I expect? He is serving his father after all.' But I'm having a much harder time with the christian in the family who knew soon after the violation and didn't do much to protect me and keep me from harm. I was still at risk physically, emotionally and spiritually. No matter how much affection, gifts and "love"  there was, there was always that mixture of 'but if you love me so much, then why aren't you protecting me? Why won't you help me and take me  away from this?'

We both remained in the family. I had no choice. There was a jesuit priest guy who "counseled" me for a little while after this came out, but unfortunatly it was a joke. No healing happend for me. No repentance happend on 'his' part. I remember a quick apology one day at a park where we were all supposed to go for a meeting. It felt much more like a 'I'm sorry....that I got found out,' more than 'I'm so sorry about what I did to you. I'm sorry I have caused you pain. I will get real help to deal with this. What can I do to help you through this?'

Around the age 18, I was in a room where I overheard this man actually call me an a**hole to another family member. Nothing at all meritted this kind of expression about me and I realized that this man didn't have an ounce of care in him. There was truly no remorse at all for his actions which was why it was easy enough for him to continue on in his life like nothing ever happened. For years, in fear I went along acting too like nothing happened. But I just couldn't anymore. Something wrong did happen.

So here I am, 20 years later wondering how to handle this delicate situation? Since he is a family member who has remained "in the family" this whole time, how do I handle this? I'm no longer willing or able to greet him and treat him like a loved and honored family member. I can't and won't let my daughters be around him. Even the thought of him thinking of my girls makes me want to die. So how on earth can I continue to interact with my family knowing there's such a secret that most people in the family don't even know about? How can it be that a dangerous and sick man is hanging out and having a great life and attending family functions and nobody knows this serious thing about him? How can other people with young kids bring their family around think he's just such a great guy?? It's because that christian family member has covered for him all these years. And there's my issue....  

Someone please help me out on this.  I know as believers, we are called to many forgiveness, mercy, compassion,  and love. But does that mean there are no consequences of sin? No protection against harm? No priorities???! So you see now that my issue is just as much for the man who violated me, as for the 'christian' who did nothing to defend me or protect me. Possibly more so.  People, including myself, make mistakes ALL the time. I understand myself to be a sinner saved by the grace of God alone. I'm not claiming to be all wise and without fault myself at all. And I've been told that 'you never know how you'd handle a situation, until you're in it yourself.' But I feel like I can honestly say that if a child in my family....either a daughter, neice, cousin, granddaughter was in a situation like I was, and I had the power to remove the child from the situation,  I would NEVER allow them to remain unprotected and vulnerable no matter what. It's not a superhero mentality is it?? Isn't it just normal to want to protect the young and helpless? Isn't it instilled in us?

So because my family doesn't know about the 'issue,' I'm finding myself in that either "go along with life and try to avoid 'him' as much as possible" or say something. I've gone this long without blasting it to anyone who is around during family functions, or whenever I hear about kids being around him, but it's getting more and more difficult to sit quietly about it. The 'christian' to this day also seems to be living life like nothing happened and seems to want the benefits of life like nothing happened. But I can't live like that anymore. Either I cut relationship with this family member, which I totally don't want to do,  or I confront them about this...again. As a believer, I'd want to just confront {in love and humility} this person and hope that something great would come from it.  Is it better to just avoid confrontation, let happen whatever will, and not risk being hated by my family?

Also to make clear, I have already approached both the 'christian' and the offender about all of this before. I have told them both that because of the love of Jesus and forgiveness and mercy of the cross for me, I also am able to forgive them. I feel like the offense to me personally is being handled sufficiently by Jesus, and now my issue is the continued risk of danger and carelessness on their part to others.

Ah. So there it is. This is what's been running through my mind all day. I felt there might be someone who could identify with this and might help them not feel like they're alone in the struggle. move foward with 'a talk' or not...

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