A little over a year ago I had a dream. In that dream I was facing the teen, now a man, who had raped me when I was a child. And in my dream I placed my hand on his shoulder and declared the deep healing and forgiveness and restoration of Jesus Christ over him. I then awoke with an indescribable joy that lasted for nearly a week.
For some months prior to this dream I had been contemplating on Sulha, this ancient middle-eastern tradition where a victim takes initiative to put aside and forgive the worst hurts and harms and deepest offences.
I had been purposing myself to live in Sulha, to have my heart-stance of 1. Initiative, first of all – I didn’t need to remain a victim no matter how bad the harm, then 2. Forgiveness, of course – but on a deeper level than I had ever known beforehand, and then 3. Justice – where even perpetrators are restored to the original image as God intended.
Some things just cannot be made right. Have you noticed this? There are hurts and harms and injustices that just cannot be made right. We can try, certainly, but what I have found is that if we remain obsessed on things being made right we will be swallowed whole by what has gone wrong.
What I have found is that if we remain obsessed on things being made right we will be swallowed whole by what has gone wrong
I am told that in parts of the world people keep chickens by taking a stake and pounding it into the ground. A string is then tied to one of the chicken’s legs and the other end of the string is tied to the stake. In this way the chicken can forage and peck and strut but only within the length of the string and around the stake.
A chicken that has lived its life tied to a stake comes to know that life as all that is possible and I am told that even if the string is cut (so that the chicken may be free) the chicken will remain within the length of that string it had come to know; the chicken will not move freely even though it is now free to do so.
You and I have had stakes in our lives. There have been hurts and harms of varying degrees. There have been disappointments and disillusionment about many things. There may have even been trauma in your life.
Years back I was hit by a car. The first point of contact was the bumper of the car to my knees. I recall my body rolling and rolling and thinking that I was being run over. What had happened is that I was tossed and rolled onto the hood of the car and then down to the ground as the car stopped.
I came through it without any broken bones, thank you Lord, and only soft tissue damage and yet my mobility, strength, focus, and time was all taken up in recovery for a couple of years. I could not care for my family as I had been doing, I could not sit or stand or walk long enough to keep a job of any sort. That accident changed the trajectory of my life.
I received as a settlement of this accident over $30K. This is a good sum of money of course, but even this amount could not make up for the disruption that the accident had caused to my life and to my family and ultimately to my future.
And I realized at that time, stark and real, that we may try to extract recompense for the things that have gone wrong, but when that recompense comes it still won’t touch the damage done, it still won’t turn back the hands of time, recompense will never make something okay. If we have been looking to justice to make our hearts okay, it won’t work.
If we have been looking to justice to make our hearts okay, it won’t work.
Years back my ex-husband sunk into a deep, deep depression and then into alcohol and drugs. For some three years he was absent and lost in a world of addiction. During that time I was raising five young children and the trauma and fear and utter hopelessness of those years scarred my soul.
But we had good people around us and as he was coming out of the addictions and as he was finding help and becoming free he re-entered the world and life with a deep relief and gladness and healing — and I, I was left with a starkly ugly heart, an embittered spirit, post traumatic stress syndrome, and deep hatred.
And I was so angry. How dare he find healing and freedom and gladness? How dare he come out of this thing as though coming out of a dream while I was coming out of a nightmare? What right did he have to be free?
But what I came to find is that the chains on me were of my own making. Yes, the difficulty had set me up for these chains, these hatreds, but difficulty does not enforce these things on anyone. Those years will forever be a part of my story and my experience.
Coming out of those years I recognized in myself what I called the Jonah syndrome. Jonah had been sent to tell the people of Ninevah to turn to God and to be healed. Now, the people of Ninevah, the Assyrians, were a cruel and exceptionally mean people and we read in the book of Jonah in the Bible that when God asked Jonah to go and tell these mean and cruel people to turn to God that Jonah didn’t want to go.
We read that Jonah knew that this would mean their salvation and the last thing that Jonah wanted was for these cruel mean people to know the freedom found in God. So he refused to go, went the other way, was caught in a huge storm, got swallowed by a giant fish, spit up on the beach, and then, long story short, made his way to Ninevah to do as God was asking.
We go on to read that it took three days for Jonah to go through the city and to proclaim what God had given him to say, and we read that all the people of Ninevah turned to the living God and found deep repentance for their wickedness and found the deep forgiveness of God.
Yet, Jonah, was still angry and embittered. And this was the state of my heart coming out of what I call the drug years. Had there been injustice, trauma, fear, insecurity, hunger (starvation even)? Yes, indeed, there had been. But I had a choice, remain in anger and hatred, remain tied to that stake, or walk free.
Things cannot be made right. Have I mentioned that? But we can walk free.
I am pretty sure that I know who my rapist is — facebook is an amazing thing for connecting people, even those we don’t know we would ever want to see. He is only a few clicks away. And I’ve been thinking about him and others who sexually harassed me all through my high school years, all of whom are only a few clicks away.
And I’ve been checking my heart, what would I say to my rapist?
All I really want to ask is, “What were you thinking?” How did you come to think that rape would be okay? What compelled you to carry out that hateful deed? Did you have any idea the profound harm you were causing?
And all I really want to say is, “Today in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ I declare the deep forgiveness and healing and restoration of God upon your heart, mind spirit and body. Be healed in the name of Jesus. Come into the love of the Lord.”
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness” PSALM 30:11
p.s. if you are at the start of working through the harms in your life take note that the journey that got me from rape, tragedy, and trauma to what I write today was a journey of many years. take time and find good people to validate all that has gone wrong in your life, take time to grieve, to grow, to find new boundaries so you no longer remain a victim, learn to be assertive, speak your truth and own your story – just know, you can be profoundly free.