A Scary Moment   8 comments

July 4th Kimberly and I visited her Aunt Pam on the lake.  It had been a nice day, but started to rain an hour before we left.  As we drove home on a two lane road, I came around a curve and spotted a car stopped in front of me with a car passing it in the oncoming lane.  Because of the rain, I knew I could never brake in time, but there was no shoulder.  I swerved onto the sloped wet grass and the tires slid uncontrollably down the embankment into a row of spaced wooden pylons at the bottom.  Bump! …Bump! …Bump!  …Bump!

Thankfully, the window-high logs were not buried or cemented in the ground, so each one went down successively and did what my brakes could not.  We ended up just short of a side street, gently enough that the airbags did not deploy.  It was a close call.  The plastic front bumper was torn badly and we had a big dent in the fender, but after I strapped up the broken bumper with 3 bungee cords, we managed to drive home okay, though we were both shaken up.

When anything bad happens, especially with a potential repeat, the “if” question starts flashing like a warning light. If I had been more alert, I may have been able to stop in time… if my tire treads were better… if I had been driving slower… if Kimberly had been driving.  Identifying the crucial “if” and finding its answer seems to be our voucher to a safe future, especially for us fix-it types.

For those of us who are also shame sponges, our very worth seems to ride on these answers.  The “if” must not point to me.  I must prove that I could not have foreseen or planned or reacted any better than I did, even when it means, sadly, that I find someone else to blame.  When I’m unarguably at fault, then a second defense to my worth is to fix the results, make sure there is no cost to anyone but myself.  When this also is beyond my reach, then a weak third defense is to settle on a solution that will prevent this incident ever recurring.

Unfortunately, these three steps of unhealthy self-protection can look very spiritually mature, even to myself.  I can pass it off as self-examination, restitution, and repentance.  I think I am fleeing from shame into rectitude, but I am actually running from true forgiveness and grace into the apparent safety of legalism.  I cannot believe that there is complete forgiveness and reconciliation without some payment from my side… a payment of promises, of sorrow and groveling, or of corrective action.  The smaller my failure footprint, the easier it is to forgive me… at least that is what I picked up from interacting with fellow humans.

Once thoroughly trained in this relational dynamic, it is very hard for me to change the way I see God.  Unlike us, he never finds it hard to forgive me and isn’t suspicious that my confession is contrived.  He never lets the injury I have done him constrict his compassion for me or his desire to relate to me.  I should not have said “never lets” as though his forgiveness was an act of his will to override his natural inclinations to retaliate.  His love for me is always on full, regardless of what I have done.


Posted July 11, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal

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8 responses to “A Scary Moment

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  1. What an Amazing and Awesome God!

  2. Please forgive me for not being as “mature” a (as I shall become) Christian to understand how a car accident which was out of one’s control, would cause shame, or have anything to do with forgiveness. Unless a portion was not shared in the excerpt of how angry Kent and Kimberly were and then heated things were stated at and to whomever was stopped in the road this would require God’s forgiveness,repentence from Kent and, or Kimberly for unduly berating someone for making a huge mistake of being in the road and causing an accident as the result.

    I will first state if this accident truly happened then I am happy to see both Kent and Kimberly made it out of this unharmed. Additionally what I am about to share is not to “trump” your story, or to cause any derision, but to truly understand God’s purposes in, his love through, his mercy, protection, forgiveness, and how He is to be trusted in spite of it. This story may appear as blame, but are only facts in the case. A woman confided in me and I seek wisdom as the result.

    Another scary moment in a life is also a horrible truth that occurred to a child from the ages 3 to 18. The 3-year-old child was molested by her brother’s, their friends from age 3 to 5. The father and mother who were only partially aware, or fully aware first because of a grandparent who caught one 13-year-old (friend of the two brother’s) attempting to have intercourse with this child when they were 4-year’s-old brought this to the parent’s attention. The parents had been out of town when this occurredand when they returned they confronted the oldest of the two brother’s, the little girl (not the 13-year-old friend) and then blamed the brother as the reason that this situation occurred, The brother apologized and life went on as “normal” for everyone except in the little girl in her mind and heart. The woman who confided in me about this remembers not being able to speak to anyone during this meeting with her parent’s and brother nor had she anyone to console her at this time or ever again thereafter, but the parent’s assured her this boy would never do this again to her. This child remained silent thereafter to anyone about this and subsequent events until she was an adult, on her own, and finally believed she could defend, protect herself if an attack ever happened again and then had the courage to process these experiences. The 4-year-old felt shamed, but learned later realized this was a situation that was out of her control and she was not responsible, did not ask for, want, etc. Had she not feared being seriously harmed for stopping it as a child she stated she would have done so.

    Everyone who had offended this little girl has gotten away with what they have done to her too by legal standards. They were never held accountable for their actions, but she said she did as God states to forgivve them and also because she wants to make sure God forgives her. She stated that God evidently had equipped her to remain quiet during her entire youth and feels deep down this may have saved her life, or so the “what if” offers. She further stated, the abuse did not stop after age 4 and the other brother took the first brother’s place and convinced a 16-year-old young man to try to have intercourse with his sister at age 5. She stated no one stopped this from happening or even knew this occurred. The 2nd brother then continued his abuse of this girl on and off until she was 18. The little girl felt extreme fear and stated she could not go to anyone as trust in anyone had been severed. The little girl had pondered, maybe the parents did know this occurred and acted as if everything was “normal,” and if she had shared this she feared she would be fighting a giant she knew in her heart she wouldn’t be able to conquer (She stated she finally shared everything with her mother at age 25 and the mother would not listen to her plea for help and turned away). She states she even tried to speak to her sisters and they would not allow her to speak to them about it. All the while during the child’s growth the whole family attended church every Sunday and learned of God’s great love and sacrifice.

    The girl stated she tried to maintain that she was a virgin over the course of her life since no intercourse had occurred during all these violations because it was only molestation, but realized purity, innocence was stolen and she truly knew she was not as she had hoped she’d be. This woman stated the little girl grew to adulthood, had no way to become involved in a healthy relationships, was desparate to be loved, and yet found the only “loving” attention she received from a man of any depth was only when he wanted to have sex with her. She stated she made a choice to have sex at age 19 because that’s really the most any man wanted from her. She stated she could never love a man as the result. She also said her bitterness toward God prevented her from wanting to acheive any thing of value in her life as she didn’t believe it would occur, or didn’t think it really mattered as her life had not mattered.

    Because of the learned abuse, lack of trust, forgiveness, understanding, …..sin…..the girl lost all desire to become anything, had to force herself to survive and only found failure after failure. There was one young man who came into this young woman’s life who tried to assure her of his love and respect when she was in her late teens. However, because of the silence the young woman had kept and the whole family acting as if all was “normal” (except when the abuse was occurring), she stated she could never trust this man to truly love her because how would he be any different than the brother’s, their friend’s(could he be the same kind of man as her brothers?) or how would she ever be able to tell him what occurred and know he would still love her in return. The woman sacrificed her whole life because of this situation, never confronted the brothers who were also never held accountable for their actions, and she took the whole incident upon herself all because she believed she was doing God’s will, or she refused because she hated God for what he allowed. Why would God allow this to happen to her (or anyone else)? Also she stated she could have been raped and murdered too so understood things could have been worse. She stated she doesn’t think of it as she used to, but is still very sad many times.

    The woman looks back at the whole life experience to truly understand God’s purpose in it. She stated she wonders if this had not occurred would she had chosen to do worse, or did this prevent her from doing worse sin, but none of that matters because “what if” will never be answered.

    How can she trust God for allowing this to occur to her? Where was God’s protection, provision in this? What is true forgiveness in this situation without siding with legalism – forgive, forget?

    • From what I have noticed, shame does not seem to spring from reason, but from experience, so each person tends to feel shame that is unique to him/her. The woman you tell about has been wounded deeply. I hope she can discover a way to slowly gain trust in God, not because God demands it, but because He is limited in what he can do for her if she pushes him away. But it is so hard for someone who has been deeply hurt to trust God. The legalism I spoke of was in my trying to “buy” forgiveness from God. I think it is important to distinguish forgiveness of others from trust or reconciliation or justice. Forgiveness is wishing no harm on another, but it does NOT mean I must trust the one who has hurt me or maintain a relationship with them or forgo seeking justice. Those might or might not be part of forgiveness, but forgiveness may be full without them.

  3. Thank you, for your time and responses. When I have more time, I would like to write and ask more questions of you regarding this.

    • Since this is such a public forum, feel free to message me privately through my Facebook account (Kent McQuilkin). I think there may be message capabilities with wordpress.com, but I haven’t set anything up yet (and if I have an ‘inbox’, I don’t check it).

  4. Yes, would like to message off the public forum and remain anonymous too. Not certain how to do that, as well, but will look into how that is done. If you have any suggestions on how to do that I would appreciate this, as well.

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