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Forgiving the Cloth Man

A few months ago I met one of my former abusers at my sister's funeral. He was there more out of curiosity about me than respect for my sister. In fact he never expressed any condolence; his only greeting, "Hey, do you remember me?" in a tone more likely used with your old classmate than your victim. My memory blinked, taken aback by his delight, but then the realization came to me that I was in control of how I would handle this meeting. I reached out my hand to shake his. My reaction was the proof [to me] that when one truly forgives one must also let go of any grudge.

As our hands touched I felt compassion for him. What he did to me is wrong, is inexcusable, but I have forgiven him. In doing so the control he once held over me is gone.

I have thought much about this man over the years. Some thoughts disclosed to paper then destroyed. Some thoughts chronicled in a public forum [but with identities protected]. Some thoughts spoken only to God. Some memories carved so deep that they are numb, and my prayer is that they do not awaken to thought.

Many people in my life comment on how merciful I am towards my abusers. I am not so certain that what I have is mercy for them. I am not that good of a person. What I do have is trust in God.

If I believe in the God of the Bible, He is a God of Love. Most people who have attended church at some point in their lives have heard the Scripture of John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (New International Version).

But love is not just a skip-along-in-life-happy feeling. John 3 continues: "God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again" (verse 17, The Message). Love wants to help, to make better the situation of those it encounters.

But that same passage continues again: "Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted, anyone who refuses to trust in him has long since been under a death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of a-kind Son of God introduced to him" (verse 18, The Message). Love also disciplines when necessary. The same God who is love, also can exhibit wrath, but this righteous anger is reserved only as a last measure.

We have all been judged for our wrongdoings and sentenced to death, but God sent his Son to save everyone. We are not puppets, God has given each man and woman a free will and we must choose whether we accept the ransom payment. Scripture tells us that if we choose to reject Jesus Christ, to mock the ransom payment that God has given for us, that we will have to accept divine justice for our wrongdoings.

Now, how does all of this apply to my capability to forgive those who have wronged me and also let go of the hardness that comes out of that hurt?

Even hell holds no secrets from God ~ do you think he can't read human hearts? Proverbs 015:11, The Message

Every choice has a consequence. Sometimes we live with the consequences of our own choices; sometimes we live with the consequences of other people's choices.

I had no control over my being born into a sin nature, but I do have control over whether I will accept the payment that was made for my sins. I had no control over what was done to me as a child, or injustices that are done to me now, but I do have a choice of whether I will allow another person's sin to decay my own heart, which is what happens when we embrace sin [our own or those of others].

Jesus paid for those sins. The Bible says that every man and woman will stand accountable for his or her life, and if [s]he has not chosen life through Jesus Christ then [s]he is already dead.

I have choose forgiveness for my sins and those are the only ones for which I am accountable. I cannot make the choice for anyone else. The Bible says that God will forgive us for all of our sins [no matter how great or small they may seem]. Is it possible that my abusers have asked for God's forgiveness for their sins? Yes. And they will be judged rightly. Is it possible that my abusers have not asked God's forgiveness for their sins? Yes. And they will be judged rightly.

I leave it to God to judge.


cloth man

honor
honor
equals relinquishing
when the enemy wears
a mask
of innocence
a title of good

in a dark basement
cornered
a little girl
kneels
under a cloak
of confused
penitence
alone she now asks
why right
hurts and sickens
and why when
she is trying
to earn
heaven
she is always
seeing hell

bad girl
bad girl
down the hall
you go
into the closet
the sounds
of sunday shoes echo
against the cement
she recites
the format
of forgetting

her soul cannot
be contained

[by words]

i gran dolor sono muti


old door

cloth man [continued]
fleeing sodom and gomorrah

i heard the sunday shoes again
coming towards me
i pushed open the back door
my heart in my mouth
my legs clubbing the stairs
in a violent ascension
i hit the grass running
my lungs thrashing
the world inside my head ticking
the second hand stuck
i listened to my breathing
until it became the beating of wings
airborne
i never looked back


trees

weathered

for my life
i sought
to salvage
dignity
some dignity
i thought
silence was protection
i thought
denial was kindness
i carried your sins
for you
and now
my spirit buckles
beneath
the weight
of this
iron life
jacket
i grieve in weariness
i want justice
but
strain
for mercy
(for you,
for me)


hands reaching up
Delighted

He reached down from on high and
took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong
for me.
They confronted me in the day of my
disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious
place;
he rescued me because he delighted
in me.
[Psalm 18:16-19]
When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
[Psalm 56:3-4]
The Holy Bible
New International Version



red fox drawing
blue cows
[christmas poem for my dad]

crayolas clenched in little girl hands
indigo blue in the right
bronze in the left
the thrashing of a toddler’s aim
casting blueness over a naked cow

are cows blue?
nope.
why is this cow blue?
stay in the lines.
yes, daddy.

i have always had trouble staying
within the lines.
i would challenge the limits,
you did too.

on the days you took me
to the airport to watch
the planes
i saw the dreaming in your eyes
the wish
that it was you again
controlling the flight
lifting the heaviness
of your life into the sky
and leaving it there

today

i watch as the planes
glide into the trees beyond
the highway
and replay in my mind
a childhood
packed away in boxes
the heaviness
hidden
between cardboard
a prize-winning red fox
freehand because i could not
stay within the lines
(as you yet remind me)
at five years old

today

i will choose
a blank page
a canvas
a napkin to write on ~
no lines to observe
only my brain
testing the limits
controlling the flight
defying life
i lift the heaviness
to the sky
and leave it there


black/white cross
The Before
[gat shemanim]

Withdrawing
into the familiar
So many nights
Resting here

Closing his eyes
Life passes before Him
In the beginning
Earth is chaos
and darkness
Light is spoken
Sky
Spoken
Land and Sea
Spoken
Flower, Reed, Bush, Tree
Fishes, Birds
Animals
All spoken
into being
And Man
Man
He breathes
into Adam
Looks into Adam's eyes
Innocence [and it is good]
Man blinks
The serpent speaks

A death sentence

Destiny, Prophesy

Closing his eyes
Death passes before Him
His Purpose
Earth is chaos
and darkness
The Light has come
He remembers the feel of wood
Splinters
Hammers
Levers
Raising the lintel
for so many doorways

Now He is one

The serpent comes close
Sighs
Mocks
Mocks
God's humanness

Your body will cry out in weakness
You will be a coward
How can you break your mother's heart
How shameful
Your Father has forsaken you
Messiahs do not die
Call your angels if you are the Son of God
Your life is folly
The people think you are a madman

Silence!
Silence

Father
Father
Father

Let this cup pass

No

Let this cup pass

No

Your will, Abba, Your Will

Men come at night
A kiss in all passion
The venom still wet on His cheek
An army for the Prince of Peace
But
The darkness will not overpower Him

Judas-Adam-Friend
My body and blood are offered
Will you accept?

I am He

The sword flashes
An ear is re-created
Malchus, you have heard

I am He

Aramaic whispers
Love

Seized

His presence is required
in
The High Kangaroo Court

Messiah in dock
Ransom has been bought


Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?

Flying Over
[The House of Forgiveness]

I have flying dreams ~ I have had these dreams since childhood.

In my dreams I "take off" from the hill in the front yard of my childhood home. I jump into the air and slowly rise above the grass and pavement. I drift over the brick house that is across the road from my house. I circle this house, sometimes hovering there for what seems like hours, and then my flight takes me down the road to a church.

Until recently, this is where my dreams would end. At that point, I would awaken, my pillow wet because I had been crying the tears I wouldn't even consider to have cried in my wakeful hours. I had to be strong, and I had to show that I could handle what had happened, at least that was what I wanted to convey to others. The truth was that I was afraid that if I started to cry, I wouldn't be able to stop. I thought that if I acknowledged how deeply I had been hurt, that the people who had done those things to me would have more control of my life. Confession ~ honestly felt like weakness, like I was not bucking up. I didn't want pity. I also feared punishment...from people, and from God. What if what I went through was a test of my [inner] strength, and what if I had failed?

I am not sure when I started to recognize that denying the hurt and pretending that what happened didn't happen, was not strength. Until I faced what was in my past and acknowledged how I felt about it, the people, the events, and the outcome of of my experiences would control me.

I cannot tell that there was a specific day when I decided for myself that I was going to talk about what had happened to me. There was no "turning point" for me; the opening of my heart was a progression. My first disclosures were made through my art. I was able to confess things to paper, but I didn't want to admit that what I was writing wasn't a story, it was my life. But questions were asked, and I could not lie. When I finally answered, I realized that I would be neither pitied or punished.

A few years have gone by since I spoke for the first time of the things that have happened to me. I am a private person so I don't go around in a "tell all" fashion. In fact, I rarely volunteer to speak of the deepest hurts, not out of secrecy but out of respect. Respect for myself, respect for my family, and respect for those who have hurt me to the very marrow of my soul.

How can I respect the people who have hurt me? I can't answer except to say that what they did was horrible, but I believe that people can change. And I guess I see that I could have been just like them if I would have let what happened to me control my life...

Last night I had another flying dream. The dream went as all the others have before it, until I got to the church. I paused over the church for a few seconds, and then I continued to fly down the street and over some trees. I kept going, flying farther away, leaving the brick house and church behind me.


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