The last week or two have been a difficult time. There will be points like this along the journey. Even though I have had many ups and downs over the last three years, I still don’t like the difficult times. It is much more enjoyable to go through the good times.
I recently learned that I have hurt someone pretty deeply. The injury was something I didn’t know I had done. It wasn’t intentional. I guess in some way that makes it easier, but still it has been hard to know that I have caused someone such tremendous pain. They are someone I care about, but even more than that, they are someone I believe God cares about and has a plan for. Knowing that I have also hurt God by hurting them, and possibly have interferred with God’s plan for the person is difficult.
This situation has reminded me that when we experience a major trauma there are three possible parties we can blame for the trauma: others, ourselves, or God. When I experienced the trauma with my church one of the first things I had to wrestle through was who I was going to blame for the trauma, or how I was going to deal with the situation. Coming to terms with a situation without blaming someone is really difficult, although maybe that is hwat we should be trying to do. I wanted to blame others for what happened. After all, they made the decisions and impacted me. It was not my choice to be abused. It wasn’t my choice to leave my ministry and my church. It was not my choice to be accused, hurt, and manipulated. However, these were people I had invested my life with for twelve years. They were some of the most important people in the world to me. They were people I had trusted, embraced deep relationship with, and shared some of my deepest thoughts and feelings with. I trusted that they made decisions based on the information they had. I trusted they had made mistakes, but somewhere deep inside they were good. These were important people to me, and to blame them meant I could not trust my own judgement.
I looked at what it would mean to blame God for what happened. I believed that God was all knowing, all powerful, all….all. To blame God meant that I had to change my understanding of God’s character. I would have to adjust the entire foundation of what I believed and understood about life. What right did I have to question God’s plan? How could I (a human) blame God (the almighty) for a situation of people’s decisions and actions? Couldn’t God have stopped this if he loved me? Absolutely, but the fact that he did not stop it did not mean he did not love me, it just meant I must not understand his characters, ways, and plans.
That left me. Was I to blame for the events? I definitely could not find a way to blame God. I was having big issues with blaming others. That must mean I had done something to bring on the situation, caused others to see things in inaccurate ways, believed things about me that were not true. I must have made wrong actions, spoken wrong words, and hurt others. It was the only thing I could make sense out of. So, I saw three possible parties to blame, but ultimately I ended up saying the blame really must belong on me.
I recently learned that I have hurt someone pretty deeply. The injury was something I did not know I had done. It was not intentional. I recently learned that the person I hurt was myself. The blame I had headed upon myself ran very deep. As I thought of the Bible story of Jesus being with the woman who was accused of adultry and about to be stoned I pictured everyone I thought could have a reason to pick up a stone to throw at me. The person at the front of the line was myself. I have carried so much anger, venom, and contempt for myself. I have hurt myself so deeply.
This journey is not over, in fact it really is just beginning. Admitting that you live daily with contempt for yourself is a hard thing, but the time has come to face those hard challenges. I know that I am not alone in this struggle. Self-contempt and contempt for others is normal for those who experience abuse of any kind. Normal does not mean healthy though. Now that I have admitted this to both myself and to others, the next step of the journey is to learn what to do with that contempt. That will have to wait for a future post as the journey has only just begun.