Betrayal, a prayer for the brokenhearted

Cw: Abuse, victimization, implied sexualization

God,

One of my kids former teachers

betrayed the school,

(himself, his family, his students, and most of all his fellow teachers)

and got arrested today–

and my eldest,

with tears streaming down his face

said he couldn’t believe it.

And I had to say, I wouldn’t lie to you about this

and sometimes people make bad choices

and sometimes those people are especially nice to hide their faultiness.

And I thought about, how, almost every place I lived,

there was an adult lurking, who wasn’t safe.

Was this how it felt Jesus?

When Judas betrayed you?

Even though you knew it was coming,

surely at some point he was a true disciple,

Surely you really wanted him to be your real friend Jesus.

And so I wrapped my child in my arms, and I told him:

The bad doesn’t take away the bad one does, but the bad doesn’t take away the good either.

And that we hoped he would get the help he needed, to truly and actually change.

And I imagine that you do the same.

Wrapping us in your arms,

coaxing us towards love, and grace, and forgiveness.

Because, sometimes we feel that brokenness all too sharply.

Please be with us when we betray or are betrayed we pray.

Because Christians and leaders and mentors are not perfect,

and it’s so important to have people we can trust in our lives.

When we are brokenhearted wrap us in your arms,

and remind us of that we are loved and worthy of love, we pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

What is true #christian #forgiveness in an #abuse situation?

These notes are from my Albany area’s Christian Response to Sexual Abuse–all typos are my own… and make sense of what Justice is in a more mature way than demanding forgiveness in (any kind) of power abuse situation. I’ve had a colleague use this material for financial abuse as well.

Also, as one colleague noted, each person experiences abuse differently and heals differently, this is one way to think about the complex process that is healing. But here are some deeper theological thoughts than “we should just forgive the abuser and show grace” in difficult situations

The Elements of Justice-Making
Truth-telling: giving voice to the reality of the abuses (from the victim’s point of view)
Acknowledging the Violation: hear, name and condemn the wrong doing (by the governing body of the victim)
Compassion : Listen and suffer with the victim (Consider having an advocate for the victim)
Protecting the vulnerable: Take steps to prevent further abuse to the victim and others (removal from position, how can they have it at this time?)
Accountability: Confront the abuser of trust, and impose discipline (negative consequences) this step makes repentance possible
Restitution : Make symbolic/real restoration of what was lost; give a tangible means to acknowledge the wrongfulness of the abuse and the harm done and to bring about healing. The restitution must be freely given and of significant value to show repentance wanting to make right.
Vindication: set the victim free from the suffering caused by the abuse when justice has been done.

THERE CAN BE NO HEALING WITHOUT JUSTICE-MAKING
FORGIVENESS, REPENTANCE & RECONCILIATION
If your Sibling wrongs you, reprove him/her, if he/she repents forgive them. Even if one wrongs you seven times and comes back to you seven times saying, “I Am sorry” you are to forgive him/her. Luke 17:1-4
Forgiveness within a relationship is not a matter of forgetting the experience, nor is it a matter of saying that the behavior was acceptable. When a person whom one has trusted takes advantage of his/her position, it is usually a traumatic experience, not one that is easily forgotten. In the bounds of sacred trust, that behavior is unethical.
For the victim, forgiveness is not unconditional we are not God. (We can believe  and try to put into practice God’s universal ability to forgive)
The preconditions for forgiveness are
The Victim(s) must have experienced sufficient justice
The Victim(s) must be empowered through God’s grace
The Victim(s) must have experienced sufficient healing to be able to let go of the anger and pain
Without these conditions, forgiveness will not be authentic—it will be an attempt to or an effort to forgive. The victim must experience sufficient justice, grace & healing to be able t let go of his/her anger at the abuser.

For the abuser: Repentance= not merely confession, apology or intention not to repeat an offense
Repentance means to turn around to change one’s behavior and/or one’s life so that one will never repeat the offense. As the scripture passage makes clear, the victim(s) obligation to forgive is dependent upon the abuser’s repentance.
True Repentance : Signs
The abuser takes steps necessary for justice-making to make amends for the abuse: (see above)
The abuser identifies the beliefs & attitudes that lie behind the abusive behavior and finds ethical ways of rejecting those beliefs & attitudes
The abuser becomes aware of the needs that lie behind the abusive behavior and finds ethical ways of meeting those needs
The abuser identifies the conditions that allowed the abuse to happen, and changes the conditions to prevent future abuse
RECONCILIATION is restoring of the right relationship between the abuser and his/her church. IT involves restoring the trust that was violated and restoring the broken relationship on new terms.

(Note: my instinct is that since our God is a justice-making God, Forgiveness for God is universal, but I have not been able to fully think out this theology yet)

Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales

“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of the monster. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of the monster. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear. When I was a child I have stared at the darkness until the whole black bulk of it turned into one black giant taller than heaven. If there was one star in the sky it only made him a Cyclops. But fairy tales restored my mental health, for next day I read an authentic account of how a black giant with one eye, of quite equal dimensions, had been baffled by a little boy like myself (of similar inexperience and even lower social status) by means of a sword, some bad riddles, and a brave heart.” Chesterton

 

For more awesomeness see Neil Gaiman on the subject!  In an article that agrees with the general principle of my blog http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/08/13/3824385.html 

Book Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

If you like stories about fragile females, who actually end up being not so fragile, with willing males to simulatenously take care of them even as they serve them, then Anne Bishop is your feminist.

The plotline is basically the same as her other 3 series (Black Jewels<–first and favorite, Belladonna and Bridge of Dreams<–not really a fan of this one).

Despite the plotline and characters getting to be (more than) predictable, Anne Bishop creates awesome worlds where magic is both feared and utilized in unexpected ways.

I like the plotline, so I don’t mind it being that repetitive, however I think that in her most developed world (Black Jewels) the books about side characters start to get away from the tired plotline, so its still my favorite. Plus this is not a common plotline elsewhere, so although its the same tune from Bishop over and over again I do recommend reading one of her series to get a taste of her style.

Be warned: Anne Bishop not only does explicit sex (which no one seems to worry about) but touches on real issues of abuse (self and other-inflicted), and the vulnerability of humanity to abuse and be abused–in fact a lot of the power dynamic within her books are about how powerful characters remain good. I think the fact that she deals so well with these issues are part of what makes her a good writer, but don’t expect a happy, squishy fantasy world…

I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in cool worlds, strong females and powerful issues…..

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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