Love knows the road to forgiveness

by Craig on May 13, 2011

There aren’t any pictures for this – it’s just kind of a pour your heart out story…

To understand this, and me, a little better, you might want to read this.

I was about 16. My mom was still alive. We were standing in the kitchen, leaning on the avocado colored counter surrounded by orange and green wallpaper.

I don’t remember the situation that brought up the conversation but I do remember this. There was anger and bitterness – and it was directed toward my father.

I remember her holding her coffee cup and telling me between sips that I had to let go of it, I had to understand, he wasn’t such a bad guy.

The problem was that every time I let my guard down, came another one of his explosions of temper. Each time I tried to understand him he closed me out further. And the fact was … he was a “bad guy”.

I have one happy memory from my entire life with him. It was a 10 minute game of catch with a football. Everything else is neutral – or terrible.

And Love? There was never even the slightest evidence of it.

Fear? That was ever present.

When he was home I was in my bedroom.

When he left I’d emerge.

One of the worst sounds I could hear would be my name shouted from his lips from the other side of the house, followed by a “Get out here!” It was never good – not. one. time.

I answered my mom’s request that day, to understand my father, with this, “Listen, I hate only one person in my life. Just one. I think that’s pretty good.”

I disliked a lot of people

I hated one.

I had since I was 5.

I didn’t know Our Lord back then at all. Forgiveness for someone who didn’t deserve it was a concept not even on my radar.

I stood in my hate and thought it gave me strength.

Now I take you to about 7 years later.

When you live with a violent person you develop a sense of when the explosions are coming. It might be why I don’t hold on too tightly to joy, and why I always expect disaster just around the corner, never comfortable when situations and circumstances are improving.

Because every time I had some joy he removed it.
Disaster arrived more dependably than the mail.
And whenever I got comfortable – that’s when he’d strike.

And like an impending storm, you could sense it,
and you were always preparing yourself for it.

I never realized the connection until right this moment.

Anyway…

my brother was recovering from a sprained ankle. It didn’t stop us from wrestling on the floor. But then he put weight on the ankle just wrong – and was vocal about it.

My father was in the next room.

I knew what was coming.

This time I didn’t hide.

This time instead of waiting for the call I got up and began walking to meet him.

Because I knew he was on his way, and he’d be all quivering lips of rage and lightning angry eyes and fists clenched.

As I heard those familiar, heavy, furious footsteps coming closer, I was heading toward them. I could think only one thing, “Let’s finish this now!” as I clenched my own fists.

There is more, but I’ve kept you long enough already.

Forgiveness is where this is heading.

But first I need you to know the depth of the darkness

before the coming of the light.

Please come back for the rest.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora May 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

Craig, I know “the depth of darkness before the coming light.” My heart hurts with your memories. I often wondered when I was younger why in the world bad things couldn’t be forgotten and erased from our memories? Why is it only God gets to forget sin when it is forgiven and we have to carry the memories, scars, etc. Being as old as I am, I’ve learned some of those answers. I’m still learning. Amazing how paths cross — even here in blog land. All this study on forgiveness and depth to which you have taken us here — and wouldn’t you know, I was asked last night to participate in a group of “overcomers” — people battling with all these same issues!!! God working things together. . . . .????? I just think so! Thank you for sharing your heart, Craig, for making us think and pray, and for stirring up within us all “yes or no,” “I will or I won’t” “I can or I can’t” decisions. The past few weeks have been lifechanging for me — all because I “happened” (?) upon your blogs and met a bunch of other people who are changing their lives, too! Wow!!!!!

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

The better question is not why God “gets” to forget – but rather “chooses” to not remember. No? In this year of connection I think Our Lord is connecting lots of dots :) I’m glad we connected. I do have the best readers don’t I?

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A. May 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

My understanding-from reading those better trained than I-is that when He remembers it no more against us, it is not that He forgets it but that He doesn’t hold it or remember it against us any longer in terms of a debt we owe. That makes sense to me. I, too, still remember certain things very vividly. I also find that some of the other things are slipping away-maybe certain details or some of the incidents, etc. Maybe we have to remember some of it as a caution or to help empathize with others. I don’t know. I don’t really like that last thing…to better help others…because of the pain that comes with that credential. Like most people, I have experienced more than one uber challenge in my life, and each time, I would say, ‘God, please don’t keep broadening my areas of empathy!

Craig, thank you for sharing these things with us and for allowing the long comments as well as the short. I come back here usually a couple of times a day just to learn from your ‘group session’ as well as from your own post. It does hurt to imagine the pain you must have felt as a child, being snubbed and mistreated and abused so constantly as you were with perhaps no one to really be there for you.

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

The thing is – when you’re a kid = you think everyone is going through the same, you think being smacked on the head is having the sense knocked into you. The next door neighbor once told Gina we had a dysfunctional family – and I got angry and defended our family. Truth is we had a dysfunctional father – and God bless my mom – her intentions were good – but an enabler mom. Anyway I know love now and that Father is the important one. God Bless you A.

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Patti May 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

Craig, I hurt for the little boy who was, and I rejoice for the man who is learning to heal. Fathers and father figures are so important, and when they are abusive it can be so damaging for a vulnerable child. As you have learned, your heavenly Father loves you beyond our ability to understand. He is the true image of what a father should be. Let him heal your woundedness. Cast your cares upon him, for he cares for you. God bless you.

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Thank you Patti – the little boy is still in this adult brain way too often. It’s long past – but I it helps to see where some of my worst tendencies come from. I know where all my best tendencies come from. They come from my Father. Thank you Patti. God bless.

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gina reid May 13, 2011 at 11:05 am

Wow. I lived this with Craig and still reading this post made me sad and brought back memories. It is amazing how Craig has been able to forgive and still love my father. I have been able to forgive, but have no love for the man and will not have him in my or my families life again. The abuse affected all of us in different ways, but we all have lasting effects. Because of my brother’s love for God he is able to still have my father in his life. He knows that is the right thing to do. I got rid of the toxicity and couldn’t imagine bringing him back in. Is it the right thing to do? Am I disappointing God? If I ever had a chance to overcome my abuse I had to remove myself from the abusive person. I still believe I did the right thing! So if there is anybody out there going through a struggle as we have, be strong and you will come out of the darkness.

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Cora May 13, 2011 at 11:29 am

Gina, your post was heart wrenching for me. I was like you. Though forgiven and the anger gone, I never had the abuser back in my life. After he died unexpectedly, I sometimes wondered if I would have later on. Yes, you did the right thing. Removing ourselves from the abusive person gives time for healing, perspective, forgiveness, strengthening, finding a new life, a new US. Even parts of that can be very dark. And I say “AMEN” to your last statement: . . .You will come out of the darkness. He always brings us into His marvelous light. Thank you, Gina! You really encouraged me today!

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gina reid May 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

HI Cora. I still wonder how I will respond to his death. I don’t think I’ll have regrets. I guess there is still some love somewhere for him and I just wonder if that will come out when the end is final. He once said…”don’t come to my funeral…” and I think about those words and still don’t know what to do when the time comes.

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A. May 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Wow, Gina and Cora…this is so deep, isn’t it? The pain, the process of healing, all the darkness, and thankfully, over time the healing and light. I agree with you both-sometimes you have to step away from those people, and sometimes it is for life and sometimes it isn’t and no one of us can judge another for their choices in this regard. I have some whom I currently am away from by choice and some whom i am not. thankfully, some simply live far away or are out of my life. It hurts to know that you had to even go through any of this.

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gina reid May 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Yeah, I know. I obviously needed someone to talk to about this. Nobody I know has had to deal with what I’ve experienced. I don’t normally blog, but now I can now see why people do. You never know where you will find your strength. I definitely never expected the one person in my life that brought me into this world and whose responsibility is was to love me unconditionally would do what has been done, but it happened and I’m living on. Thank you for your words of support.

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Well now you’ve met my beloved sister – still the apple of my eye – can do no wrong – perfect in my eyes :)

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

lms

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Dawn May 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Dear Craig,

You said,

I never realized the connection until right this moment.

That happened to me today while commenting on your other blog’s site. That happens a lot around here: thoughtful discourse.

Anyway, I know the feelings you describe in a different way. My father was violent to my mother. He never touched us kids, but we were in the house when he would tear her apart. She certainly was no match for him physically. It was most likely easier to forgive him because I had good memories to balance the horrid ones. My mother was an adult and could have chosen to leave and taken us with her, but she did not. My mother provoked him to anger. I knew the minute she said certain words that we were in for a long night of terror. I can remember when I got my first job I begged her to leave telling her I’d help her pay the bills. She would. not. leave.

This world is so very broken.
I thank God for Jesus,
Dawn

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

What more can I say to this but what you said, “This world is so very broken. I thank God for Jesus, God bless you Dawn – really – God Bless.

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A. May 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

The more I read, the more I realize how so many of us have had our dark times. When I was a child, I was so much more naive. My experiences with physical and sexual abuse did not come from my parents, thankfully. For a rather short time, I only experienced the world as a good, safe place. I am grateful for that short window.

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I was never sexually abused – how hard that must be – can’t even imagine the damage it does to your soul as a woman A. I just know that it’s worse. It may have been a psych class where I heard this – but it is true – everyone is dysfunctional – it’s just a matter of degree. In God parlance it’s, “it’s a broken universe, everything in it is broken, no one is exempt”. God bless you A.

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Michelle May 14, 2011 at 3:07 am

Yes, Craig, it does damage the soul. But even worse, in my case, stole my identity. It took a long time, and a great course with loving women to restore and know who I am. And I am ‘precious and honored in His sight’.
But good does come out of the darkness. I am sometimes able to see the signs in other young ones before it gets to that point and help.

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Craig May 14, 2011 at 3:32 am

That’s why the Bible tells us older women counsel the younger ones and older men counsel the younger men. We do gain experience as we get older and we need to pass it along. I’m glad that you do. And even non-younger ones like me get to learn. Thank you Michelle. God Bless – as always.

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Cora May 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Michelle, I’m so glad, too, for the women that were sent by God to walk along side of me and help restore my soul and identity in Christ. And yes, there seems to be a gift given with that restoration, and it is seeing the signs in others. I’m so glad to hear someone else say this here. Somehow, in a group of women that you don’t even know, you can just pick them out within minutes. And it’s not just that, but there is a “gravitation” type thing that brings a “restorer of souls” and one who is lost together. I wanted to ask you, was this a specially disigned course or study that you went through with these women, and if so, is there a name to it. I’d really like to know.

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Michelle May 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Cora, the course I did was one called Door of Hope (for victims of sexual abuse) which was run by two facilitators in our church. I did it about 12 years ago. It came out of a church at Mt Evelyn (Melbourne Aust). The pastor, Allan Meyer and his wife Helen, is a man who is very much into the total healing of God’s people. Their church has also brought out Search for Significance (another good course), and Search for Intimacy, (I’m sure there are more). Allan has written a book Valiant Man, for men to help them know who they are in Christ. The church website is http://www.careforce.org/.

Hope this is of help

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Liz Hoyt Eberle May 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

It is an honor to know you, Gina. As usual, I stand amazed at God’s massive love that brings together so many strangers who understand, who need to know there are other hearts that understand, and how He weaves all our stories into His one great Story. The world went black while Jesus hung on the cross, so our Father certainly knows and understands the anger, hurt, confustion, and problems with forgiveness of His human children. Craig and Gina, I’m touched and humbled at the healing I find here and grateful that you’ve allowed all of us ‘commenters’ to be part of your family. Yeah, even this our safe cyber family, is dysfunctional, but our other Family–where God calls us into the Holy of Holies–is PERFECT. I’m a little stronger reading er family’s strengths so I’ll go now and work on more forgiveness. Love, Liz

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Craig May 14, 2011 at 3:29 am

Thank you Liz, though normally not short on words – I am here – thank you. God Bless.

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Debbie May 16, 2011 at 1:54 am

Listening and reading here, so thankful for each one. So grateful for what God does to restore, to heal, to help us forgive and be made new. Gina and Craig . . .thank you for sharing your story, for your bravery, your forgiveness and how you deal with it today. Praying that others in need read this and find a way out of their own abusive situations, through God’s loving guidance.

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Craig May 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Thank you Debbie. I always I get so much from reading this comment section. And thank you for saying it was brave to share the story. A lot of people say that, but I really don’t get it. It’s defines too much of my negative side. I don’t particularly like the story very much. But it doesn’t seem so brave to write it. Still, thank you as always – and God bless and keep you and yours.

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Dawn May 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

I received this quote from my niece today. I thought it fit in this discussion. Perhaps it will resonate for someone here.

“Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their minds and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you release him from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.” –The Shack

God bless each and every one,
Dawn

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Craig May 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Dawn, that is so true, relationship does take trust, and truth. I don’t think granting forgiveness is based on a relationship. I can forgive people I have no relationship with all – but forgiveness in a relationship, for that to work right, it does take trust and changes of behavior and love. Thank you for sharing this. I heart it. And as always thank you for reading and God bless and keep you and all for of yours.

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