My grandpa who sexually abused me never said the words “I’m sorry.”
In fact, when he died… I felt nothing… and chose not to go to his funeral.
I was only 10 years old when grandpa went into eternity. My earliest memory of being violated was around 6 years old…which was why when my babies approached that same age, fear led many of my choices.
I could make myself sick thinking of horrible scenarios of some one hurting my children. Each time I would go there, somehow Jesus brought me back to a place of faith and wisdom.
Faith that He loved them more than me and would be always be with them.
Wisdom that I needed to make choices as the adult to protect them the best I could.
I don’t regret my choices of what appeared to be over-protection when they were younger. Oh, I’ve got other regrets but that’s not one of them. Especially after sitting with groups of women who disclose of their childhood sexual abuse at the hands of neighbors, siblings, babysitter’s homes, family members and educators.
Sexual abuse by those who you assumed could be trusted.
I heard later in life that before my grandpa died he had gone somewhere for a month to get help for his alcoholism.
I heard he met Jesus there.
It can make me tear up almost 40 years later to think he might have met the real Jesus who forgives the worst of worst sins..that my grandpa might have came out of his drunken stupor long enough to feel the shame and deep sorrow of his actions towards me…and others.
I can say with deep peace and hope that when I pass into eternity, I hope I see my grandpa.
I hope I get to embrace him and if it will even matter in Heaven, tell him, “I forgive you.” And though he never told me he is sorry, I know if he met Jesus, he was sorry.
My grandpa didn’t have time to live his new life of repentance and restoration.
There was no fruit in his life for others to taste of, other than a hardened, angry, perverted drunk.
His alcoholism was so severe, he destroyed his body.
It was too late.
When sinners meet Jesus, their eyes are opened. They come to their “senses” and they crumble under the weight of God’s love and mercy.
They are convicted of sin and see they are not righteous.
Righteousness as defined by living a perfect life in thought, word and deed 100% of the time.
Like Jesus did.
They might be a good person according to the world’s standards but there is no one righteous according to God’s standards.
Eyes that meet Jesus are opened to the perfect holiness of God and that He is offering them an invitation to become righteous through faith in Jesus.
The mercy He extends to everyone to be forgiven and become a new person truly seems scandalous.
I’m aware it might make someone want to throw up thinking my grandpa could be in Heaven and forgiven.
His sin against me messed up my life in multiple ways.
The good news? Jesus has healed me in more ways than I can humanly explain.
After my grandpa died, I never thought about him again…until I was taking psychology courses as a young adult in college.
I remember the first time I brought the abuse back up. It was with my advisor. He simply said, “You’re doing great for going though such trauma.”
That was it!
I was doing great. And I believed him.
I liked being told I was doing great.
The problem was, my advisor had no idea how I was really doing.
He judged me by being a young wife and mother who decided to take 6 hours/semester until she got her psychology degree.
He judged me by my ability to engage in some-what intellectual conversations and expressing myself in confident ways.
He judged me by hardly ever missing classes and writing impressive papers.
What he didn’t do was rightly discern the depths of my inner struggles, which in time became outward behaviors.
Is it fair that I expected him to be aware of such struggles?
I do think he should have known a little more than I did.
Like, when a little girl or boy is abused, there are deep issues about identity that will always be more complicated than with a child who was protected from such abuse.
I found out several years after I graduated that this professor had some serious issues of his own.
Maybe he thought he was doing dandy too?
He eventually got fired because he went off the deep end and what was true about him on the inside came to the light.
Not sure if he’s ever repented but I sure hope so.
In an ideal world, all offenders would meet Jesus, repent and come to us saying they are sorry and live a different life. They would take ownership without excuse and see their consequences as gifts of mercy opening their eyes to God’s grace to save their souls.
Since we don’t live in an ideal world, we have to face how we are going to handle people not feeling or saying sorry when they have clearly offended us. Of course there are different degrees of offense but some so severe, they need exposed.
Often times to protect others.
We can’t make a person repent or feel sorry for hurting us but we can expose their behavior to keep them from hopefully causing more damage.
But what about more minor offenses that could possibly be “overlooked?”
I was faced with this Sunday in church. Before I took communion I had to talk to Jesus about someone who hurt me and has never said sorry.
Someone who I felt should have known they were offensive.
I had to consider once again that even though I’ve addressed it, still no response.
I welcomed the Holy Spirit to search my heart:
Do I need to lovingly confront them again?
Is it a problem with me that I would want them to say sorry?
Maybe I am not important enough for them to care?
Why when I see them is it a battle of faith to believe the best about them? (The same way I hope others believe about me.}
As these and other thoughts scanned my mind, I was led to asking Jesus to help me let go of needing a sorry.
I felt sad.
I felt sad because I really don’t like relationships that don’t feel fully restored.
One thing that did occurred to me during communion, swallowing up the sadness I felt, is a truth that will set us free if we let it.
We don’t need people to feel sorry or tell us they are sorry for US to live out our God-given purpose.
We can heal and live our life to the fullest without it. I know this to be true.
The Holy Spirit also asked me if I have told every single person who I have ever offended that I am sorry?
Oh gosh….do you know what that means for me? That means I am in big trouble if I am going to hold this person to a higher standard than what I’ve lived out.
Don’t get me wrong, I have told many people I am sorry for the pain I’ve caused over the years. Most of them have verbalized their forgiveness and a few chose not to.
To honesty say I’ve said sorry to everyone I’ve ever hurt would be a big ugly, self-righteous lie…so with that and with the help of the Holy Spirit getting up in my business during communion, grace wins again.