This entry has a religious content that may be offensive to non-Christians or non-believers. That’s fair warning, I think. More than any other entry I’ve written, this one touches on matters of my faith. As such, I hope it burns brightly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit
I have strong feelings about what should be done to people who abuse spouses or children, their own or not. I suppose it is rooted in my Christian faith, the Golden Rule, yet people from other backgrounds and faiths stand with me: spousal and child abuse must end, and the perpetrators must be dealt with severely. Death? No, that they be removed from decent society. Forever.
I am concerned that that statement has an internal contradiction. Shouldn’t I love the sinner, if not the crime? As a Christian, that’s the path I am committed to, yet…!
I pray for the victims I know of, of course, adult or child. Those that appear in the paper, at any rate, as part of the summary of District Court proceedings, I pray for. I pray for those I learn of because a victim comes to ask for prayers of my Prayer Team partner and me after church. I pray that I always remember to ask the right questions before that victim leaves the prayer room: Have you talked with the pastor about this? If not, will you? And so on. Abuse is a complex issue that needs a gentle, accurate, and sensitive course of action.
How can prayer help? To those without faith or a different sense of prayer, the answer may be it doesn’t help, it can’t help, it’s a waste of time.
To those of faith, the answer is prayer is a living conversation with Our Heavenly Father, that He hears our prayers, and those prayers are answered in ways with many times we miss if our ability to discern the answer is clouded by doubt, non-belief, naysayers in the victim’s circle of support. Or discerned in changes in the way people respond to the situation that brought about the prayer. Just as we don’t always get what we want on this plane, we think we know what’s best for us when we approach the Lord in prayer, ignoring the possibility that He has a different direction in mind for our lives. If we can discern it.
Another way prayer helps is to unload a terrible burden Our Lord, on the shoulders of others, if only for a few quiet moments in the prayer room. Typically, those on the Prayer Team assignment for any given week continue to offer support and prayers for those who sought prayer from them. It’s the humane and Christian thing to do. It’s a way of restoring some small corner of a victim’s life, one where people offer hope, not destroy self-worth and offer nothing but despair. It’s a light touch on the shoulder, a hug, a reassurance that the victim isn’t the cause of the abuse.
In all this prayer, too often, in my anger, I forget the most important prayer: for the abusers. It also is the most difficult because of my williness to judge, not forgive, to hate, to fall outside of Christian love and forgiveness.
But I try.
And I ask God to forgive me, too, for my hard heart, to guide me toward acceptance of His wisdom and ultimate judgement of us each, including the abusers in this life.