There are so many different thoughts going through my mind this morning that I am not even sure where to begin! At the beginning, perhaps?
Many years ago, when I was much younger my father made it onto the front page of the local paper and not for his heroic acts. I suppose it is worth mentioning that this was a rather small, rural town where everyone knew your name. It was quite like the scene from a movie.
My father had been caught having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. The small intensely conservative community was repulsed as was I. He was brought before the church literally (the size of the dining area of let’s say a moderate sized fast food establishment) and given the “opportunity” to repent of his sins that the church had already condemned him of and for. There was no love in this. It was pure shaming. My father refused and was, for all intents and purposes, escorted to the county line by the local sheriff and quite a few of the “town folk” where he was told he was no longer welcome there. It was inferred that should he attempt to come back, his future would not look bright.
The “girl” that he was involved with was ushered out of state by her father. She went to live with her mother so that she could be redeemed. Rumor had it that her mother was involved with a very strict church with cult like tendencies that would be able to help the girl with “readjustment.” To the best of my knowledge, she never returned to that little town.
Public humiliation, disgrace and shame surrounded everyone that this story touched. My father. The young girl. Our family. Me.
There it was… FRONT PAGE NEWS! Months later, the girl’s father, still unsettled by the situation, began running ads in newspapers of local surrounding communities making sure that other parents were warned and also to serve as a continuing threat to my father. I know because people made it a point to bring the ads to my attention!
How do you get past something like that? I can say that I have not thought about this for so long it almost feels like a tale. Until today, when I saw an article that told about a church removing their pastor because he had inappropriate images on his church computer. The church felt the pastor did not appropriately address the issue and was deemed unfit to serve. My heart weeps for him and his family and all of those that looked up to him.
I know that many people will have strong feelings about this blog, as do I. I am writing from the perspective of someone whose life was changed by the actions of others. My family was turned upside down. I walked in shame and wanted to fly below the radar for most of my life. I also left that little town and never returned.
Honestly, I cannot imagine this being a comfortable thing for anyone to talk about much less in a public forum. Why do so now? Because, it is more uncomfortable to go through, to experience ALONE. No one wants to be a part of this type of story.
Here is how being written into this story affected me.
- I never sought to “be” anything or anyone that drew attention to herself.
- I was never proud of my dad or my family.
- I was embarrassed and began a lifelong battle with what people would/do think of me.
- I RAN the opposite direction of God and all of His “PEOPLE.”
- I never felt worthy.
- I always tried to overachieve to compensate.
- I withdrew from friendships and relationships.
- I ended up in relationships less than I truly deserved accepting being devalued because I devalued myself.
- I HID FROM LIFE.
WOW! Yes, I am having a few epiphanies as I write this.
If you find any of this resonating with you on any level, read on.
Here are some takeaways.
- My father belonged in jail. He hurt that “child,” and he hurt me as well as others along the way.
- My father had a problem – not ME. He never once said he was sorry.
- To the wife of the husband viewing porn or viewing inappropriate images. You are enough! This is not about YOU. God made you beautiful!
- To the daughter of the man that is not acting like one – your earthly father does not determine your worth! Hold your head high. Your true father is a KING and will never hurt you, leave you, nor forsake you. He will protect you when those that should don’t.
- To the sons of the man that is not acting like one – see how this behavior has hurt those around you. Strive to be better. Walk closer to God.
- To the church – everyone who walks through your doors is a sinner. Love them all. Even the man on stage. No one is exempt from sin. We have all fallen short of the glory of God.
- The burden of shame, disgrace, and humiliation is heavy for all who have ever felt it. If you are not currently experiencing the weight of your own, help someone who is carry his or hers! It crushes souls, families and spirits for generations. I know!
- Forgive! I may not have been on the front page of that newspaper but could be, should be maybe. No one ever expects to be. At least not in a negative light.
- Someone may not acknowledge their wrongdoing in the way we think they should. Never stop praying for them. Never stop loving them.
I attended the church where the pastor was removed. I know I now live out-of-state but have been contacted numerous times with the gossip of the day. Some out of true concern, no doubt. Remember earlier that I stated people made sure to make me aware of the ads placed in neighboring papers about my father? Don’t be one that spreads the humiliation any further. Just be the one to help that person carry the weight of it.
Praying for peace, restoration, strength, redemption, and love for those now walking in the heavy shoes that I once walked in.
Until Next Time,