A Wounded Witness

A Wounded Witness: Forgiveness and healing after abuse.
Guest post by Kimmi

I have been exploring the idea of forgiveness the past couple years now and have come to a place where I really need to go to the next level of it and start to release people. I really don’t even want to think about these people who have hurt me or the circumstances involving them, but they haunt me. Every day they haunt me. It would be easier to deal with this in my old way, but if I go back to that or give up, then what in my life will change? It was brought to my attention how many people it would impact if I just decided to give up.

I have a tattoo on my arm that says “She who has been forgiven much loves much.” I want to love and forgive like Jesus. He has impacted my life with his sacrifice, but I often forget that his sacrifice was not just for me and my friends and the sweet people I have met along the way. It is for absolutely everyone. That racks my brain. Because he forgives, I should also forgive.

The idea of forgiveness is coming up now when there are also so many other things happening in my life…

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Divorce: Crash Course

That title is a bit of a misnomer. Let’s be honest- I can’t tell you what divorce is like for everyone who experiences that sad undertaking. I do, however, think it could be helpful to hear some of my experience. I only have a little advice which I’ll tell you now in case you get bored with my story:

1. Learn as much as you can about the reality of marriage and the faults of the person you want to marry before you get married. Make a conscious choice and not an emotional leap.
2. If it’s too late and the divorce has happened (is happening) make forgiveness your priority. Forgive yourself and your spouse completely. Unless you don’t really want to enjoy your life. If that’s the case, skip forgiving.

In the midst of it, divorce is like having a limb chopped off. It’s likely that for many, that feeling of disastrous separation from a part of yourself does not go away. Even if the limb were riddled with disease and barely operating in its intended function, it is still horrible to have it removed. It was, after all, yours. The empty space serves as a constant reminder of what could have been.

I get too metaphorical, I’ll now go narrative.

It was July 7th (some years ago) the day that my former husband told me all of his news- the most central was his choosing to walk away from God, whom he could no longer believe existed. The divorce part was almost an afterthought of his realizations and decisions. I don’t blame him for not seeing things the way I saw them. To him, I believe (and he may read this and correct me) we had become like roommates and our separation seemed a matter of course. It was not so for me. For me, he was my husband and unmarrying was a matter of purposeful destruction…

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Existential Absence

Raise your hand if you want to talk about loneliness!

No?

Me neither. In fact, until this morning I would have responded to the topic with a smile and shrug. “I’m not dealing with that issue right now.” For a few weeks now I’ve had that thought several times, to my own surprise. Who doesn’t feel lonely sometimes?

Apparently not me. Cool.

Then this morning, as I was beginning to question this unexpected sturdiness, I opened up the book I’m reading, The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. In the chapter, Ministry by a Lonely Minister he talks about loneliness as a gift, he looks back at loneliness and says, “The truth is so disconcerting and painful that we are more prone to play games with your fantasies than to face the truth of our existence.” He also throws out a few things we do to avoid loneliness and, reading this, I realized I haven’t been craving people because I’ve been keeping myself so busy. Work, books, movies… even cooking and cleaning keep me distracted…

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Call It The Past

When people hear the story of my marriage and divorce, they often remark on how healthy I seem. I’m not bitter toward my former husband- in fact, when I do think about him, I often consider the gifts he continues to offer the world. I make self deprecating jokes, I expound on the joys of being reintroduced to singleness.

But I will also correct my surprised audience because I’m really still just as messed up as everyone else. Maybe the willingness to forgive and be transparent about my faults is a sign of maturity I will own to, but it doesn’t mean I’ve leveled up.

What I mean to say is that when my former spouse was still my future ex husband, I was struggling under the weight of all kinds of neurosis. I got them the same way everyone does, in childhood. A difficult marriage may strengthen old triggers, but those triggers formed on the playground of youth, in the hallways of old houses with my feet sunk into orange shag carpeting….

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The Look of Love

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about “image.” Yesterday I watched several interviews with this actor who professes to be a Christian (at least in articles I’ve seen) but when he speaks (though very gifted, charming, funny and handsome) I don’t see a whole lot of Jesus. He drinks, he swears, in general he talks just like anyone who doesn’t care much for God.

Please don’t stop reading, I’m not about to rant about this man’s shortcomings. He’s actually pretty amazing and I found myself envying him a bit. At the same time, I appreciate the goodness of blessing and the temporary nature of things like fame. It’s very possible that his heart is deep and full of the love of God.

Then, today I encountered another kind of Christian. This man is a pastor. What comes out of his mouth is misogynistic, homophobic, arrogant and unloving.

Both of these men have influence, both are gifted and well known, both profess to love Jesus. My mind wanted to judge between them. To decide about them….

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Failure Loses Its Sting

How was Paul the Apostle so confident? So active, so joyful, so sure of his position in God?
How am I so insecure? So easily discouraged, so doubtful of my position?

As I asked those questions, I heard in my head, “because you make it about you.” I make it about how I feel, what I think, what I’ve done, who I am.

When I woke up Friday morning I felt a kind of inner turmoil- like there was something rotten that needed attending. As I sat down to write in my journal I couldn’t really think of anything to say and I couldn’t figure out what my problem was. Because I’ve been slowly learning this lesson about the fact that my identity is not swayed by whatever my current emotion is, I just asked God in my head, “Is my heart in your hands, Lord?” and he simply responded, “It is.”

As I study Philippians, I’ve been kind of astounded by this statement, “If I am in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:22)

Paul knew that his work would accomplish something because he was doing God’s work, following God’s call, living in obedience. He was sure that God would make it fruitful.

He even says later in chapter 3 that he puts no confidence in himself and his abilities – it’s not about what he can or cannot do. He counted all of his former trophies as garbage so that he could cling to the sacrifice and perfection of Jesus. He strained toward identifying with Jesus in love and suffering – looking to position himself firmly in Christ…

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Right Out Loud

God’s goodness and love keep breaking through to me.

This morning I was reading a book and several pages into one chapter I had to set the book down and pray for forgiveness because I realized how far I have been falling short.

Do you do that? Do you fall short? Do you spend much time thinking about this, feeling guilty?

I do that. But lately? When I realize I feel guilty about something and I take it to God do you know how he always responds?

“I love you, Peggy.”

Right out loud in my head…

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Is it me, Lord?

This is a mini revelation I had the other day about how God loves and forgives me.

My friend Jodi has two small children. Brynn is four, I think and like all kids her age (and my age), she does bad things sometimes.
The other day I was talking with Jodi and we heard some crying from down the hallway. We headed that way and there was a neighbor boy crying and heading toward the room where his dad was sitting. Brynn was behind him with distress on her face. She headed straight for Jodi and simply said, “I pushed him.” It was clear from her face that she felt remorse. Jodi very calmly said, “Ok, go make it right. Go tell him you’re sorry.”

Another little girl was ready to tell the whole story to the adult and this was upsetting to Brynn. She came back and cried out, “I ALREADY TOLD HER WHAT I DID!” Jodi was still calm and dealt with the emotions. She repeated her kind instructions to go make things right with the little boy….

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