The Place of Rescue)
Yesterday I made the point that both the perpetrator and the victim of abuse find themselves cut off from the presence of God. The perpetrator by their guilt, the victim by their despair. I explained that they do not have the power to bring themselves back into the light, either. Each requires an act of divine intervention to rescue them from the darkness.
It is not in the scope of this series to fully detail this rescue process. This process is outlined in the Gospel, it is conducted through the Savior, Jesus Christ. Anyone that searches for how one is “saved” in the Christian theology will find numerous explanations. For here I will simply say that this rescue or saving comes by accepting Christ as our Savior, and him redeeming us through no special merit of our own. It begins a new life within us, one of discipleship to Jesus.
My focus in this series has been to examine the hard path that precedes this saving grace. All of us have to be lost before we can be found, that is our common pattern in life. All of us are broken by others, and all of us break others in turn. Accepting these realities brings us to the bleakest place in our lives, but it just so happens to be the very same place where Christ’s rescue is waiting for us.
A dear friend of mine understood this concept and would often repeat the phrase “there is sacredness in suffering.” He understood the courage that it took to admit how guilty and broken one was, and he also understood that it was the prerequisite to a transformation for a soul. Nearly four years ago he passed in a tragic accident, leaving behind his young family. They have had their own “sacred suffering,” to be broken, and to be rescued to a new way of life.
New in the Light)
No one is rescued from the hole as the same person they were before they went in. They can be innocent again, they can be whole again, but they won’t be the same innocent or whole that they were before. That might be difficult for some to accept. Most of us spend so much of our time remembering how we used to be and trying to get back to it, but that’s something we just have to surrender.
This shouldn’t be considered tragic, though. The new person that emerges back into the light will not be equal to the person that went in, they will be indescribably better. We rise higher than we fall, our suffering and healing purifies and strengthens us into a purer form.
Of course, this is a transformation and journey that we never plan on. In the case of the victim it comes about entirely against their will. In the case of the perpetrator it does come about by their will, but they are ignorant of the full consequences they are calling forth. Most of us like to think that the greatest journeys of our lives will be ones that we elect for ourselves, ones that we choose deliberately and then carry out entirely by our own power. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those sorts of journeys are the most insignificant of our lives. The greatest journeys are the ones that catch us by surprise, even against our wills, and feature long periods where we are carried by various others. These journeys are far more dangerous, but the reward is far greater, too. There’s a reason why this is the sort of journey that all our literature has been obsessed with for thousands of years.
Here at the end I want to revisit a notion I mentioned in an earlier post. Many of us view the victim and the perpetrator as being two completely separate entities. We feel that each has entirely different needs from the other, that the only relationship that they share is those isolated moments of abuse.
But the reality is that both of these souls have a parallel journey to redemption. They both are prone to self-deception and false ideology, they both must overcome these lies to accept the hard truths, they both must come to despair so that they can then be rescued by the Savior.
And, indeed, each must deal with the other in their journey many times over. Even if they never see each other in the flesh again, each must come to terms with the specter of the other. No perpetrator will emerge whole without acknowledging the victim and doing whatever he can to make amends. No victim will emerge whole without accepting that the abuser is still their brother or sister and releasing their hate for them.
As I have suggested several times, I have been victim and perpetrator both. I have walked both journeys at various times, and I know firsthand the patterns of these paths. I know with all confidence that the way is hard, but also that it is beautiful.