Taking Offense

There is one thing that breaks my heart. Disconnected relationships. If my son and his daddy aren’t getting along, I’m miserable. If my daughter and I haven’t spent time together in weeks, I’m lonely. Why? Because family, and familial love, bring healing to us all.

Family is the one place where we can escape and rest. It’s a place of recovery. My family is restorative to me. And I seek to be a blessing to them, too.

Tonight, however, I realized that I had allowed bitterness to come into my family circle, and that it had stabbed a hole into that protective barrier. We faced danger from that broken space, because anything could fly in through that space and do harm to our members.

One phrase awakened me to this breach. “You’d better not eat again,” my husband said tentatively as I grabbed another big bite of food that I seriously did not need. And as it always has, that phrase made me want to go to the kitchen and cook myself an entire meal. Bitterness has attached itself to that phrase, and it broke through the loving family circle and awakened my pain.

You see, I was molested in my mid-teens. The man who molested me was a controlling man who used that phrase on me often. I was rebellious about that control back then, and at times it seems to come back to haunt me now. Sadly, even though I’ve asked my family to help keep me accountable in my fitness journey, I have found rebellion rising up within me when anyone suggests that I may be eating too much.

What annoys me is that I have made a decision to release that molester. I have forgiven him over and over again. I mean, I’m older now than he was when he molested me, and I’m certain that I can’t begin to imagine his pain. Who would harm children in order to relieve stress? What kind of horror must a soul endure before it begins to transform into something so ugly?

I’m reading this, and I find myself rewriting that last sentence. I can’t seem to adequately express the filthiness of his mind and heart. Every time I do, I can imagine him reading this one day and assuming that I hate him. I don’t hate him. So I keep rewriting. Because even though the perverseness of his actions have blackened my heart and mind for years, he is a man that God loves so much. God sees him as the helpless, adorable infant that was born beautiful and worthy of love, and I must learn to see him that way, too. As someone who was perfect, and whose goodness was turned.

So, why am I reacting to his comments when they come out of my own husband’s mouth? I guess a part of me does still cling to bitter thoughts. So, I have to consider the condition of my heart and make that decision again. It must be time. Time to let go. I need to forgive the man who molested me again, and once again I’ll be free to embrace that freedom.

I’m not in favor of setting molesters free from accountability. They need to be stopped. I know that he was wrong. But I also realized a few years ago that my lack of forgiveness would keep me attached to him. He’s long gone from my life. Shouldn’t my heart understand that, too? So, in my heart, I freed him from any responsibility for those actions. And I continue to set him free whenever my own sense of self-pity threatens to embitter me again.

One day, the man will face his Maker. That’s usually a scary image. However, as someone who has faced this Judge, I know that the experience isn’t nearly so terrible. The man who molested me will come face to face with God. In that moment, he will stand before the most compassionate being in the universe, one who loves him infinitely more than we can imagine. Hopefully, the man who molested me will have accepted that loving forgiveness, and he can spend eternity free from the urges that tormented him in life. Wouldn’t that be awesome? A happy ending is a beautiful thing.

You might be wondering where the justice is in such a tale. I am happy. I have the opportunity to choose freedom and forgiveness, and I can be holy and pure before my God every day. I can leave behind the man whose actions threatened to turn me into a perpetual victim. It’s not my job to fix him, punish him, or deal with him in any way. It’s my job to release his hold on my life by releasing him first. Thankfully, I continue to choose that option. So, tonight when my hubby reminds me of my commitment to meeting my fitness goals, I’ll thank him for that little nudge in the right direction. It’s time to leave the bitterness behind.

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