Posted by: Botolff | October 7, 2009

Shame and gratitude.

It’s been a little bit since I last posted.  Time has been fleeting and responsibilities have been growing.  Not a good combination for posting.  I will likely be out of commission towards the middle/end of the month for a few weeks as well.  But for now, I thought I would share with you something that  happened for me recently.  I found myself in a very weird paradox.  First, I have had a few really hard conversations with someone regarding this topic and my story particularly.  Conversations that in many ways left me dealing with my own shame for trusting someone with my story who committed to support me, and ultimately dropped me; and then dealing with their shame for doing so, that they seem to want me to hold for them.  As a result, I think I may have become a little shaming of them for dumping their shame on me.  So, shame on them, and shame on me?  No.  I say God damn all this shame back to hell where it came from, and God pave the way for honesty and repentance.  Not the kind of “repentance” that is about people feeling better about themselves at the cost of the people they are requesting “forgiveness” from, but true heartfelt “I’m going to change my ways” repentance.  May that be the determining factor for who holds what shame, so that in the face of a forgiving God they/we may repent and be released from that shame as well, if they/we so choose. 

So, that was the first piece of my paradox.  Here’s the second…

I have been so grateful lately.  Ironically, I have been the most grateful for many of the directions my life has gone in spite, or maybe even as a result of, the abuse I experienced at the church that got rid of me.  What do I conclude?  God.  Like I said in the last post, I believe God is in the business of making something beautiful out of ashes.  Does that mean I have God to thank for putting me through what I went through; or even harder to swallow, the people who abused me and allowed me to be abused?  I don’t believe so.  As for God, I don’t know how God operates, but I can say that ultimately I am grateful to him/her for being the one who somehow oversees my life and invites me to more beautiful streams than what I have gone through.  In regards to my abusers, I’m actually quite concerned that some of those people would be looking for more reasons to further abdicate themselves from the responsibility for what they did, and would love to use my gratitude as another excuse to do so.  Let it be known that I am not grateful to them for what they did.  I am grateful to God for taking what they did and turning it into something much more glorious than they had intended, or that evil had intended through them. 

It’s an odd place to find rest, if it is truly rest that I have found.  To realize that had it not been for the abuse, I may not have been propelled in the same way down the same directions that have brought me such joy in other areas of my life.  Had it not been for the abuse, I would not have an even keener understanding of what abuse looks like so I can help others face it in their own lives.  I can’t tell you the number of people who I have run into that have responded with statements like “That happened to me too!  I thought I was the only one who went through that.”  “I had a friend who used to be a pastor.  Would you mind talking to him/her, because they went through the same thing.”  “I was in a relationship with a man/woman and I felt just like that.”  Thanks be to God.  God has truly taken some of the charred remains in my experience and other’s and has birthed new life. 

If you are reading this and are a wounded minister, or anyone else recovering from abuse that has taken place in your life, my statements of gratitude are in no way an attempt to suggest you should be in the same place or should respond in the same way.  We are all on this journey of recovery at different paces that even lead to different conclusions.  What I might encourage you to consider however, is whether or not there is anything you might find yourself grateful for right now, regardless of the propelling factors.  My hope for you is that there is even something, however small it may seem, that you can hold on to in the midst of whatever you may be facing. 

Blessings.  And until next time.  Shalom.

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