It Is Finished

It was a frantic morning of ridiculous reaching out, an episode made possible only in the age of google, in which I tried to reach a farmer in upstate New York.

I had found, randomly, online comments by a man who claimed a beloved Christian writer had tried to molest him thirty years before. The writer is now dead and this man must be in his 70s, yet the wound was still very raw, and in his description I heard my own cries to be understood.

I have not been molested, but I was married to a man who works in church leadership. He's written books on church worship and travels the world as a speaker. Churches sing his songs of praise to Jesus. This Easter Sunday, he'll stand in front of a congregation and lead them to the throne room of the Lord.

He left me with a $1900 medical bill for our diabetic son after having sought advice on a legal loophole that would absolve him. He told our teenaged boys I cheated on him (I hadn't). He left me with a $272 insurance bill for our other son. He threatened to not allow my sons to attend my wedding. He tried to hit me. He took me to court to force me to sell my house and make his children leave their home of ten years knowing he'd win on a technicality (he did); I was left to pay his legal fees, nearing nine hundred dollars.

When I signed off on a new mortgage and was able to save the house just in time, I asked about other papers, wanting to be doubly sure this man's name was nowhere. And the lender said, "Honey, it was never his. He signed it all over to you at the divorce. He never needed to put you through this." And I cried, because "this" was six months of trauma. I was called names by his friends. I had lost the ability to speak for a time. I interviewed for jobs while under terrible stress. I lost the client base I had built over two and a half years. I had to beg for time off from a new boss to go to court. I gained significant weight in a short period of time. I tried to comfort the children even as I was crumbling.

The farmer wasn't touched thirty years ago but he is still hurting. He dropped small but significant clues as to who he is; he wants to be found and helped. I wasn't hit, I kept my house and I have the best kind of love, a great marriage, and yet I am weary and there is no rest.

Nobody wants their favorite Christian writer to be a molester. Nobody wants their worship leader to be a vindictive liar.

No one wants their favorite comedian to be a creepy masturbator, either, or one of the best dancers of all time found with naked young boys perched on all fours on his bed. But Hollywood has taken these liars and abusers off the screen and stage, knowing that leaving the spotlight on them is a trigger for their victims. Kevin Spacey was--is--a great actor, but he's got to go. Weinstein's films sell billions but that's not what's important, says Hollywood, who fired him.

The Catholic church is slowly, at an inexcusable pace, doing the same in removing convicted priests from their roles. Because while abuse is abhorrent, abuse in situations of power and religion is compounded. The Christian message of love, the theology of grace and a declared devotion to right living are complicating factors. Weinstein never promised to be a good man or a follower of Christ, but these priests did. As did the writer and my ex-husband.

Dutch priest Henri Nouwen introduced the concept of the wounded healer to address the paradox of his insecurities living alongside his remarkable ability to inspire others. Certainly, we are all wounded, and we are all capable of causing harm, changing, and using the experience for good.

But I have to believe that the farmer was never offered an apology; neither was I. (When I said something about him trying to hit me, his response was not surprise or remorse, but rather, "What do you mean I tried to hit you--I missed?")

The Easter message proclaims that our sins are forgiven; my ex writes songs that celebrate this magical moment. But whether you believe your sins are buried with Jesus or washed away by his blood, note that all relevant metaphors emphasize severe action, not words, as the means to crush the darkness.

And yet the darkness of the worship leader is front-lit each Sunday morning, the Christian writer dead but honored at every turn.

If I ever reach the farmer, I will ask the questions that I myself can't answer.

Why has this bothered you for so long?
What isn't satisfied in you?
What do you want?

It is finished, right?

Why is it never finished?

An Easter series of sorts. Also see He Is Not Here.


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