Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Forgiveness . . . the Hard Questions, Which are Never Asked

(The book cover is just an icebreaker as I have not read that book nor do I know the content)

I started thinking about this issue of forgiveness this week and I wanted to revisit it from my typical, psychological, sociological as well as theological perspective. I'm not going to start with personal stories to illustrate the question, because that always comes across that I'm looking for guidance for my very specific situation. But I want to raise a much broader question about forgiveness in general.

Example 1, Extreme Forgiveness.

I knew about a man who was a full-time Christian worker and author. His 25 year old son was struggling to find some kind of work he could do. He eventually took up driving a taxi in a large US city.

Soon after taking the new job, one night a man pulled a gun on him and demanded his money. He only had about $30 on him and gave him all of it. The man then shot him in the back of the head (killing him) and tossed his body out of the cab and drove off with it. The police eventually found the cab later that night, had a shoot-out with the assailant, wounding him. The assailant was in the hospital.

In the midst of his grief, the father went to the hospital told the man that he completely forgave him for killing his son. He shared the gospel with the man and he immediately accepted Christ.

Now, this story was the cover story of the monthly journal for the magazine of the Christian organization, which the father worked with. It was an amazing story and became folklore and an example of Christian forgiveness.

I know I'm cynical at times, but I'm going to ask some honest questions . . . taking in consideration of the typical human psychological dynamics.

First I must ask, what is true Biblical forgiveness? Next time I want to look up some passages to cross examine.

Secondly, of course only this forementioned father and God knows the truth, but is there a chance that the father was acting out of extreme social pressure to be seen as the "godly man," rather than a heart-felt forgiveness? What I'm getting at, is that I've watch someone lose their son in an equally tragic way, and gave God praises because they wanted to live up to their concept of the Christian ideal.

Now, if someone killed one of my kids, I can imagine some day understanding the perpetrator's motives (say they did it out of a crack cocaine rage) and certainly not holding it against them. But I would always feel the anger of the loss. Is that what forgiveness really is . . . just giving up the right of wanting to punish them? Or is it "forgetting" the emotions of it?

I was told once (in error I believe) that true forgiveness is where you actually (supernaturally) forget what the other person had done, and end up completely trusting them in the same area where they hurt you.

Example 2, Moderate (but toxic) Forgiveness. I've heard this following story from several sources so it is an conglomeration of several examples.

A pastor spiritually abuses his wife for years. Puts her down. Criticizes her (in the name of God) all the time. He also controls her, using spiritual manipulation to get exactly what he wants from the family's money to getting out of chores and abuses in the bedroom. Finally it gets to physical abuse and he tells her in the privacy of the bedroom that if she ever tells he will kill her, in the name of God, because it would ruin him.

So finally, after sharing her private grief with a friend, she is given the courage to leave. The husband/pastor then starts horrible rumors about his wife, that she was sleeping around, abusing prescription drugs and etc. (all lies) and that she has turned her back on God. The pastor is so convincing that the entire church believes him and she looses virtually all her good friends, in-laws and even her only family doubts her. The pastor portrays himself (in a narcissistic way) that he is the real victim.

Her husband then excels in his work. The denomination promotes him to a bigger church. Eventually he marries the women (whom the wife suspected he was interested in even while they were married). He goes on to be a great Christian hero and even being a conference speaker and marriage enrichment seminar leader.

Since this crime against the wife is perpetual, how does she forgive him? Can the anger ever go away?

Any thoughts?

26 comments:

Wanda said...

A wife doesn't forget years of marital abuse and hypocrisy. Choosing to forgive can be a loooooong journey.

The anger, whew, that takes a while too. But it lessens while on the journey of forgiveness.

jmj said...

It seems to me too that forgiveness, especially when it is emotionally charged and deep is a process and like you said, a looooooooong one.

Michael Hunt said...

I have been a bit of a lurker here for a while and I thought it was about time to post a comment since there has been much you have written that has been helpful to me.

In the first case while the forgiveness is extreme the grief is also extreme (and people do funny things when they are grieving). The sin - while heinous - has actually only been committed once and the offender - who is a stranger- appears to have remorse for his actions.

The second case is actually the opposite in this regards, repeated sin increasing in its intensity, done by someone whom the wronged has the closest of intimacy with and to which the offender appears to have no remorse for.

So is it easier to forgive a stranger than it is to forgive someone closer to you? I think so (at least for some people in some kinds of situations) and this in part has been my experience. Very interested to hear more of what you have to say in this series.

As a side note: I think you are right in the first instance to look at the extreme social pressures on the man to take the course of action he did - in the long run this doesn't help one go through the normal cycle of grief (if ever grief could be described as normal).

Steve Scott said...

This is a topic worth thinking through. I've been persuaded of late that forgiveness is often (or even always?) tied to repentance. Will even God forgive anybody who doesn't confess and repent? The examples given in Matt 18 of the talents and the denarii show each debtor confessing his debt and desiring to repent by paying it off. Just previously in the passage on "church discipline," failure to repent proceeds toward eventual excommunication. The thief hanging on the cross, etc.

There may be a benefit for "inaction" concerning an offense, but is forgiveness simply forgetting?

Lutestring said...

I don't think real forgiveness would ever involve ceasing to feel the very real anger and hurt of the wrong that's been done. In fact, I think actually grappling with and affirming the real emotions is the key TO forgiveness.

I have been forgiving something that was done to me for a long time now ...

(a friend rejected me because I would not cease my doubts and questions, so she ditched me on my birthday, very nastily. The catch? last year, when I was sure I was a Christian, she helped give my surprise birthday party)

I have found that when I try to get the rage away from me as quick as possible - THAT is when I feel I hate her the most. But when I accept my anger and hurt as something good, and legitimate, and something to be accepted within myself - oddly, I feel the most ready to move on and keep forgiving her.

I feel that part of this - though the whole process is really beyond words to describe - is that in appreciating and nurturing my own humanity and my (God-given, if God exists) sense of right and wrong and betrayal and loss, I find it easier to forgive her and remember she is a human too.

Of course this isn't as bad a scenario as the ones you outline here ... in some ways you seem to be asking if forgiveness, as some Evangelicals conceive of it and force people to conceptualize it, is even possible. I would say that the answer - based on your scenario of the abused wife especially - is "certainly not".

perhaps some need to painfully rework their view of life and the world, and their definitions of forgiveness.

Eagle said...

This is an issue that comes close to what I wrestle with MJ. I don't know what to believe about forgiveness.

I was involved in a Crusade chapter in the upper midwest. I talked about my own difficulty with lust, like any guy. After a lot of prayer I then proceeded to take a job I would not have took. I took the job on faith thinking and believing this was where God wanted me. In the hiring process my Crusade director exaggertaed the sin I confessed. Later he told me that he thought it would be a good experience if I lost my job to teach me the consequence of sin. I was horrified. His actions created problems for me at my job and has been an issue I have had to live with regularly. Meanwhile one of my close friends in Crusade who led a chapter at a university in the upper midwest was my accountability partner for 7 years (2001-2008). I then found out in the process of confessing hard stuff to him that he was living a double life with porn and being very sexual immoral. He was being dishonest to me and pulled back from me and walked away concealing what he did. Even when I realized what he did, and confronted him and he confessed that he was lying he was still being dishonest in the process. I lost it and blew.

So this is what I have had to live with. I'm in a terrible job that is going poorly. My Crusade director who wanted to teach me a lesson on sin created problems for my job. Meanwhile my purity partner who hid a porn addiction and sexual immorality walked away unscathed while I was burned.

I told this to one person at a mega church and he said I needed to keep my eyes on Jesus. Like I wasn't? WTF?!? It really pissed me off.

A short time thereafter I trashed a lot of my Chrisian material and came out an agnostic no longer really believing in God.

But the whole forgiveness topic makes me feel sick. I don't know what to believe.

jmj said...

I think there are some good points here. I've been reading all the passages I can find on forgiveness but haven't had any time to put down thoughts.

It does appear, listening to what you are saying, that it does make a big difference to us emotionally if the offender is repentant or not. I know it does for me.

I have a sense that we (who are/were evangelicals) were sold a cheap forgiveness, sort of how I use to my my boys hug each other as soon as I caught them fighting. Their hugs were about as fake as they could be, and sometimes they would try to hurt the other with their "hugs."

So, on the surface, we might say I forgive them, but deep inside it still hurts. And maybe that's as good as it gets. I have a sense, from what I've read so far, that forgiveness is more about punishment. I give up my right to punish them for what they did to me, but it still hurts and I still will not trust them . . . especially if they have not repented. But even if they have repented, I would have to be cautious in trusting in the the same area that they hurt me.

I wonder though, how often people smile and talk about how they have forgiven people, but secretly still have not forgiven because they reserved the "right" to punish the one who hurt them. By "punish" I mean subtle things that hurt them.

I think I could intellectually give up my right to punish someone much easier than I could pretend the hurt and the pain was not there.

I've hurt plenty of people in my life. I wish the hurt would go away, but I accept that it may never. But I do hope that they would give up the right to pay me back, even though I deserve it.

jmj said...

Sorry, can't correct comments here, but I meant "make my boys" not "my my boys."

Dana said...

jmj,

This is a very important topic. I too struggled with my received theology, not so much because of hypocrisy -though there was some of that- but much more because I was told "just do it" as if would be magically instantaneous (like so much else is supposed to be once we have acceptedJesusChristasourpersonalLordandSavior - and it wasn't happening. There was no recognition that for human beings, forgiveness is a process, and of course there was no help, no tools given to me to aid in moving through the process.

Until I got to a Christian 12-Step group. Not the franchised, weakened one that is big at Saddleback and other churches, but one that was made up of Christians actually trying to work the Steps in the way they were first given. No Christianese of any sort. There wasn't a lot said about forgiveness per se, but there was a lot said about Honesty, and getting honest is the first thing that has to be done in order for healing of any sort to happen. I found that I began to walk through forgiveness on the strength of honesty about who I was and what I had experienced, not making excuses for either my own or others' actions, being honest about the reality of the offenses done me, with the desire to ultimately forgive as I arrived at that place honestly. But it did take some time, and "process" and "time" are not valued in Evangelical culture.

As for the "forget" part, I don't think that's possible. I do think that it's possible for at least most of the negative emotions to diminish, if we will work on that. I actually took a college class on forgiveness a few years ago, and the teacher (lapsed Catholic, secular but respectful of where each person was spiritually) had a good definition of how to know you have forgiven someone: When they can stroll about through your brain, in you mind's eye, and doing so does not cause you real distress. Works for me. That certainly does not mean that we have to trust the person who hurt us, especially if they are not sorry for what they did. We most emphatically should not enable others in their sin.

That said, I do believe forgiveness is coming to the place where you lay aside the need to in any way get back at the person for hurting you; it is coming to the place where the offense is absorbed, just as on the cross Jesus absorbed all the evil of mankind - as N.T. Wright says, Jesus let evil do its worst to Him. God the Father was not punishing Jesus for anything; the Trinity do not work at cross-purposes. Jesus on the Cross is the most concrete statement that can be made about what "God" is like: already having forgiven us everything. He loves and gives life - makes the rain to fall on the just and unjust alike. We are "perfect" when, united with Christ, we come to that place in and from our own selves. But, also like God, we can't make someone else want to be in a healthy relationship with us.

Somewhat sorry for the length :)

Dana

jmj said...

"Somewhat sorry for the length :)"

You are forgiven.

No,seriously, some nice thoughts. I like the litmus test of how do you feel emotionally when that person comes to mind. Nice when a point comes that you don't feel the acid dump in your stomach and muscles go tight.

Somewhat like what you are saying,is that I remember the worst "sin against me" at least on an emotional level happened about 15 years ago. The rage inside was tearing me apart. I struggled for weeks, if not months with anger. I could not sleep at night. Then, somewhat of a break through, (but not storybook complete resolution) happened when I was out walking and praying one night. It was intense. I was angry at God too. I was begging Him for help as well as screaming at Him for allowing it to happen to me.

Finally I had this vision (not literally, more of a mental illustration) of Jesus being nailed to the cross . . . and I was the one with the hammer. I was confused. But then I sensed a thought (now I'm not making this into a goofy experience or not saying that anything supernatural happened), the thought was God saying to me, "Okay buddy, let me have it! I will take the punishment that jerk, who did this to you deserves. Drive the nails! Give me the rage you want to give him. Go ahead, that's what I came to earth for . . .to take other people's punishment."

That situation was different(than say Eagle's) because the perpetrator was repentant and sorry . . . but it was still a deeply painful thing to go through.

Eagle said...

I never tied my post to your thoughts. I'm sorry. I think Christians have been flippant about forgiveness and forgive under pressure. Forgiving and forgetting are also confused. Also there is this fairy tale belief that once you forgive all is like it once was. Everything will be nice and harmonious.

Bullshit....

Some times you can forgive and that forgiveness can be used as a tool against you. Other times people can still hold grudges, and act suspiciously and there can still be tension. And then there is the trust issue...how do you learn to trust again. In the context of my previous post I'm in knots because my accountability partner abused the trust that exosted. In lieing during the forgiveness process I leanred that forgiveness is cheap, and he never really atoned or made up for it. I think forgiveness can be more than saying, "I'm sorry..." at times, and that the depth of repentance and sorrow will be shown by how they act. I remember in CCC when they talked about Corrie Ten Boom forgiving her Nazi guard...but its made to be simple and easy. And my experience in life forgiveness doesn't act like that at all. Also what do you do if the person sees no wrong in what they have done? That's another issue.... How do you forgive someone unrepentant?

Wanda said...

Eagle. I feel your pain. (ala Clinton)

No, I really do. My EX (fundamentalist preacher) begged for my forgiveness the day I left him, but I knew it was remorse, not true sorrow.

So, I stayed away and waited to see the fruits of repentance. Nope, wasn't happenin'. In fact, he got worse, and lied about me, etc., etc.

To this day, ten years later, I have never seen works to prove any semblance of repentance toward me, and worse yet, toward my sons.

One day, early in this process - years ago - in desperate prayer for my situation, and the horrible feelings I had toward him, I literally cried to the Lord, "You see that bully? He hurt me. You get him!)

I felt better. I am waiting. It is faith that allows me to know that one day my Father WILL get him, whip him, or whatever. My Father will stand up for me and make it right. I just have to wait.

Meanwhile, a lot of things to deal with. I especially struggle with anger when I see traits of him in my sons, or see them suffer because of not having a decent father, etc. That really gets my ire.

But I will wait in faith that HE doeth all things well and will "reward" the evil man accordingly.

Oh, and the glossy Sunday School stories of forgiveness??? Nah, I don't believe them ether. You're not alone.

Eagle said...

@ Wanda, MJ-

Is it natural to be angry and fool of rage sometimes if a person has hurt you? Or if forgiveness was more of a mockery that sincere repentence? How does a person learn to let go so that they can move on? How does a person learn to forgive?

I remember reading Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis earlier this year in an attempt to get the answers I wanted. He had a story in there about a rape victim who was taught to forgive her rapist and didn't press charges. Later that rapist raped another person and not only did she feel guilty about her rape, how forgiveness was handled, but she felt responsible for the other rape also. In the story you could discern that forgiveness actually caused more harm than good.

Becky said...

Eagle,

I think the anger and rage after being hurt are definitely part of being human.

Sometimes the anger is a good gift, part of the "fight or flight" response, warning me that I (or others) may be in danger. So one question I ask myself when I find myself chronically angry is whether I (or others) am in any kind of danger and whether there is anything I can/should be doing about that situation.

But sometimes the "dangerous" situation may already be dealt with, and I'm still angry. What then?

I'm often not very good at identifying my own emotions. So sometimes it helps me to try to figure out whether the emotion I'm feeling is really anger. There have been situations where I've discovered that the emotion is more betrayal or grief or humilation or violation or something else. Naming the emotion can open up a different perspective.

Sometimes I realize that my mind keeps pointlessly returning to the same old incident, rehearsing it, and reopening at the same old wound. And I'm sick and tired of being enslaved to it. Then it is pretty much a long, boring battle of noticing when my mind tries to pick at the wound and dragging my mind away from it. Over and over and over again.

Or, I may go through all of this and just end up seeing whole seemingly unsolvable, unresolvable webs of pain and sin that I do to others and myself and they do to me and others. I'm been finding that lament is a practice that is at least intriguing to me recently. Certainly the psalms are full of the pattern of "God, here's this situation of nastiness - my own or others or a whole web - that I can't solve. But God, I remember the big things you have done in the past in Israel's (in the case of the psalms ... Christians add in Jesus) history. Save me. Save us."

Lament isn't a magic bullet. I often struggle with how things resolve for David in the psalms. I struggle with believing in God. But I can at least lament about that too. And I at least have hundreds of years of human company in Israel's history.

Dana said...

Becky,
wise words.

"Forgiveness" does not equal "get off Scot free" or "avoid the consequences of your actions". The girl in Bell's story should have pressed charges at the same time as working to forgive the rapist. It is not "unforgiveness" to enable a person to continue to sin when it is possible to do something about it. It is actually an act of love to restrain someone like the rapist, or to walk away from someone, like your ex, Wanda. God bless you and help you.

I still struggle to forgive my (now) late father-in-law for all the ways he hurt my husband growing up. Never physically abused him, but lots of emotional manipulation, and an atmosphere of constant anger and intermittent, unforeseen outbreaks of rage. That has had a significant effect on my marriage, and on my husband's relationship with our children. (Husband does not do the same things to the same degree as his father did, I believe because of his commitment to the Lord, which his father did not have. But he has not sought counseling or tried to work on his issues around this, either. Yet another example of thinking that because one is "saved", your character magically changes without any work on your side.)

What helps me move on in forgiveness is remembering that my FIL was moved from his small town in Iowa, where he felt very secure, to post WW II LA, where there were more students in his high school class than there were in his entire home town. At the same time, his father divorced his mother for another woman. Major breaches of trust. FIL acted out so much that he had to be sent to military school; there was no counseling available for this kind of trauma back then. To his dying day he never got over it. He remained a very hurt, frightened young adolescent to almost age 82; he mellowed only a little bit in his later years. There were good aspects about his life too.

Abusers have been abused. Nobody is 100% evil. Everyone needs healing. Most people are too scared to seek it, paralyzed with fear because of how they think the world "works". I've been that way too. When I can think about this, and think about both myself and the person who hurt me at the foot of the cross, then I can work some more on forgiving, that is, forsaking vengeance so that I can let that person into my thoughts without having to obsess over my hurt, and eventually to head for the goal of being able to sincerely pray for the person's welfare. This sets me free from the emotional hold the other person has on me, which keeps me turned in on myself, no good to anyone else. And it sets the other person free to hopefully truly repent- but if not, it sets God free to deal appropriately with that person.

Dana

jmj said...

This is why I think a Post-Evangelical forum would be a good format . . . because there is a collective wisdom that can be shared as you are doing here. Still hope to have something like a forum in the future.

Sorry I haven't been back to say much. I'm in the middle of trying to get a business off the group and has been very time-consuming.

PRS & ALS said...

Amy Said...
This post speaks so much to what I've been processing for the past 20 some years. I was sexually abused by my "Christian" father for several years and have worked at releasing the anger and hatred that could have bound me. For me the key word is "releasing". When I first started dealing with this I was told by a couple of well meaning Christians that I needed to forgive. Deep down I know that I first needed to get angry and enraged at what had happened to me as a child. Who wouldn't be angry when a child is abused? I couldn't even use the word "forgive", but each time I felt that intense anger and hatred I would just try to hand it over to God, to release it, because I didn't want to be consumed by it. I told God, "I don't like how this makes me feel, but I can't change it. So you take it." Gradually I was freed from that intense anger. I've come to realize that forgiveness is actually more for the abused than for the abuser. When we're able to release or forgive it frees us to live life more fully. My father has never even admitted what he did, much less ask for forgiveness. But I've been able to release those feelings that would continue to control me. Also, I would never ever trust him to be around my children, even if he had asked for forgiveness. And another thing, there are times that the hurt and anger still come to the surface, although not with nearly the same intensity. But I'm able to deal with them, not feel guilty for having the feelings, and again give them to God.

Eagle said...

PRS...can I ask you a question? Not to hijack this thread but another issue that has derailed my faith is the difficulty with reconciling why a loving God would allow evil in the world.

I'm sorry about your past sexual abuse. You were wronged and hurt and I cringe everytime I hear of a person being abused due to their age or incapacity.

In traditional Christian theology God is taught as being omniscient. He knows the hairs in your head, (Luke12:7) where you will rest (Pslam 139), etc.. Does it bother you that God knew what was going to happen and did nothing to intervene? How can you pray or release to that God, let alone respect or worship him?

jmj said...

PRS & ALS, sorry about your story. I hear that way too much. Actually once is too much. I would guess that 20% of my patients have been abused as children and have irreparable damage . . . baring some act of God. It is a horrible thing. We were designed for perfect, loving parents. It is such a crime when we get the opposite.

Eagle, I'm going to attempt to give some cliche answer. It was something I had to work through myself. In conclusion I think those verses are misunderstood and we have been sold a message that the Bible never intended. There is someway you must disconnect the bad from the person of God. I certainly don't agree with the Christian mainstream that God does or allows horrible things to happen to use to discipline us or to teach us to trust Him and other such garbage. Shit happens because Shit-head people do it.

PRS & ALS said...

Amy said,

I have struggled with the idea that God knew and saw what was happening and didn't stop it. I've dealt with it in a couple of ways: 1) I put the blame totally on my earthly father. He had free will and chose to use it to hurt me. 2) I refused to let what my earthly father did keep me from having a relationship with God.

I still struggle with the issue of where was God, but I remind myself that I don't want my father to have any more control and interference in my life. It has meant looking at God and scriptures in a new way, not necessarily the way I was taught.

All of this was and is a process and takes a long time. I've been through counseling, have read everything I could get my hands on, have journaled, and had amazing friends to support me through the process. Choosing the right counselor and friends to process this with was very important because some people can keep a person imprisoned in old ways of seeing God and in old family systems.

I've also been very honest with God and others about my process and my feelings, my anger at my father, and at times, at God. I just know I don't want this to control my life. I want freedom to live my life to the fullest.

Anonymous said...

Not to hijack this thread but another issue that has derailed my faith is the difficulty with reconciling why a loving God would allow evil in the world.

In traditional Christian theology God is taught as being omniscient. He knows the hairs in your head, (Luke12:7) where you will rest (Pslam 139), etc.. Does it bother you that God knew what was going to happen and did nothing to intervene? How can you pray or release to that God, let alone respect or worship him?
-- Eagle

Eagle, what you're talking about is called "The Mystery of Evil"; better minds than ours have wrestled with it for centuries, and have never been able to come up with an understandable answer. The paradox remains:
1) God is all-Good.
2) God is all-powerful.
3) Evil exists.

Any two of these make sense, but all three together are a paradox. The usual way to reconcile them is to remove one of the three.

Islam has emphasized (2) at the expense of (1), literally putting God "beyond good and evil", which quickly degenerates into what JMJ calls "a God who is omnipotent but not benevolent", a God who Wills Evil.

Anonymous said...

I think those verses are misunderstood and we have been sold a message that the Bible never intended. There is someway you must disconnect the bad from the person of God. I certainly don't agree with the Christian mainstream that God does or allows horrible things to happen to use to discipline us or to teach us to trust Him and other such garbage. Shit happens because Shit-head people do it. -- JMJ, replying to Eagle

As even Jesus pointed out when mentioning the tower collapse in Siloam. Even Christ said "Sometimes, Shit Happens."

And in a way, the "God does or allows horrible things to happen to use to discipline us or to teach us to trust Him" is even worse than Islam's firewalling of God's omnipotence. For this makes God not just beyond-good-and-evil indifferent or ambiguous, but actively malevolent. A God who's not just a Cosmic Sultan ruling by whim of the moment, but a Father who's like an unpredictable violent alcoholic.

Headless Unicorn Guy

Eagle said...

HUG...so how have you gotten around that issue? My doubts collided at a time when I was wrestling with great hurt and bad church experiences. The friends PRS refers to helping her have gone. I've actually thought of trying counseling but feel frozen. It certainly wouldn't be a Christian counselor, and yet all I can think of is how evangelicals demonized not Christian "anything?" When I was part of a mega evangelical chuch 4 years ago, I was criticizied and told a Christian shouldn't use secular resources.

Anonymous said...

My ex-husband, the abusive pastor, used "forgiveness" against me all the time. It just became another tool in his arsenal.

"Will you forgive me?"

Those words make my stomach sick. He would say that, and then, as a good Christian, I would have to say yes...and then, according to his logic, I was never allowed to bring up whatever happened again. If I did, it was because I was, "harboring unforgiveness."

The abuser used forgiveness as a way to ensure my silence...and as a way to make me have to keep trusting him.

I demand real change now.

jmj said...

Eagle, again, I want to avoid using any cliches because they are stupid to start with and extremely unhelpful when you are dealing with emotional pain.

I don't know how far out you are from your bad experiences. That's probably the only thing that separates you from me. My great disillusioned and hurt came, almost 20 years ago. It may have taken 7-8 years for the pain to become tolerable.

During those first years, I couldn't stand to be around Christians because they had no answers, except for the Hallmark version. Their cliches made me want to puke "God did this for a reason," "Apparently you didn't trust God," and the worst one, "Who are you to doubt God . . . He never doubts you." PUKE!

The pain is real. Somehow we have to get past it, in due time (not over night, but sometimes over years) to move on.

I started my journey at square one and entertained all options; a) God isn't there, 2) God is pantheistic in nature, 3)fill in the blank. I eventually came back to the Christian God but not the American-Evangelical God. I've highlighted my journey in my manuscript which you can download for free on this site (and you may have read it before).

My point is, take your time. Search your options, but do it honestly. If you arrive a the notion that God was never there to start with . . . you really need to take it to the logical conclusion of there being no meaning in anything . . . one giant, random celestial fart (also called the Big Bang). Pure chance. No good, no evil only chemistry. Or the pantheistic on, where both the good and the evil are part of God.

But, I'm speaking of intellectual healing. There has to be emotional healing or you get stuck. But I'm not rushing you. There is a season for tearing your clothes, screaming at God (if that's what your emotions demand). Hurt cannot be artificially ignored or pushed down either. There is a season of rage, a season where you can's escape the hate that is there in your heart (as was in my heart) but then at the appropriate time, you move on. It could be months, or in my case, years.

Sometimes, like with Elijah, you just need to sleep, eat, rest, laugh, for a season and forget about the struggle, then come back to it . . . if your mind will allow it. My intrusive thoughts of rage almost drove me mad.

Anonymous said...

HUG...so how have you gotten around that issue?

I haven't. I accept it as a paradox.