Mercy is showing compassion or forgiveness towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Over 20 years ago, my family came as one unit and confronted my father about the incest in our family. After that meeting, my parents contacted the pastor of the church they attended and asked that he preside over a meeting between me and my father.
The other children of the family didn’t attend this meeting but I represented their accounts of abuse.
The pastor asked me to tell him our recollections of the abuse. I told him about the story my brother recalled being molested in the cab of Dad’s truck and how they filmed him going to the bathroom on fishing trips. I recounted how I had been raped before we left the house on Delaware Lane, so I had to be under four during these times. As I was recalling how the brick on the fireplace was a kinder focal point than my father’s face during these attacks, my father stood up, clenched his fists at me and said, “Not another word.”
I stopped talking.
At that time, the pastor stood up, walked right past me and hugged my father. Then the pastor said, “Jodie, I believe you. You seem very sincere but I don’t believe it was your father.”
I answered the pastor and said, “Then the man who did these things lived in our home, drove my dad’s truck and looked just like him.“
What atrocity! My father had been given full clemency by this supposed man of God.
What about my sisters and brother? What about me?
I decided long ago not to look to others to find what I could only find with God. Oh, but I tried for years before I changed my expectation.
I would try to earn that favor from my parents for many, many years. What I learned was that while I was attempting to climb out of the pool of incest, they were trying to hold my head under water.
Unfortunately, my other siblings didn’t withstand my parents’ attempts to silence them.
Most of my siblings have succumbed to the temptation my parents placed in front of us: lose them or stay quiet. As full grown adults, two of my siblings have recanted their memories of abuse.
It is such a shame to watch now as those siblings’ lives will never be free. They will not find what their souls so desperately crave – freedom. Their prison cell doors will be eternally shut by their choices until they have the courage to return to their stories.
I would give them all clemency, but it is not within my power to do so.
Churches need to come out of the slumber they live in. Help these victims as they are climbing out of their troubled waters. Scream at the abusers to stand in a place of accountability. Stop being cowards in these situations.
To the abuser: of course grace can be given – isn’t that the easy part? What about the act of a strong accountability that needs to be established?
People of God – rise and shine! Hold these people accountable for their actions. Don’t live in a subtle denial because it’s the easy way out – for you.