So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
-Psalm 90: 12-17
I started this post no less than seven times. I wrote, erased, wrote, erased, questioned, and then started the process again. My biggest fear is being misunderstood. Misunderstood by Georgia and Olivia and Nathan because my decision to continue advocating for Asher appears to make me discount his abuse of them. Misunderstood by Asher at some imaginary time in the future when I pretend he will return to me – healed. Misunderstood by people ignorant of the complexity that incestuous abuse brings. Misunderstood by critics who are only looking to twist my words around and make them something they are not.
But my biggest fear is to be misunderstood by God. I long to be right with my savior and know that Jesus is pleased with me. I want to be Christ-like in a way that brings only him glory. Please, dear Holy Spirit, let me not be misunderstood by you.
I made a commitment when I started this blog. I would share the ugly, painful reality of abuse inside my home. I made that commitment for a couple of reasons. First, I process externally, and the jumble in my head doesn’t make sense until I can get it out in some form of communication. Second, there is a dearth of honest accounts for this horrifying epidemic in our culture. That lack is more profound when you consider it in the context of the biblical church. We, the very ones called to shed light on sin and evil so that it can be vanquished, hide and prevaricate in an attempt to keep our white picket fences clean. After all, we can’t have real life invading our tidy (and tiny) concepts of grace.
So, I am speaking out the things that I can barely even whisper to my own heart.
Today, I became angry that Asher didn’t just die.
I told myself how much easier it would all be if we could simply mourn his loss and be done with it. No confusion about who knows what and how we are addressing awkward questions about his whereabouts. No more difficulty trying to come up with code words for our younger children to hear so they don’t inadvertently blurt out information better left in a specific context. And the grief could come without any hiding. The anger at his passing could be expressed in a way that would make sense to many more people around me. The whole thing just feels like it would be easier.
But the biggest, ugliest reason is because – right now – I actually want him to feel the weight of death as it crushes the perverse lack of empathy out of him.
I can tell myself all the psychobabble about his state of mind, and how Drake’s abuse snuffed so much emotional and mental health out of him. Sometimes I really believe that Asher’s lack of empathy is more about fronting through his own insecurity than a genuinely psychotic inability to express compassion for another’s pain. But today I grieve that what is pleasing to Asher right now is to continue the abuse from afar.
He is lying to his probation officer about us. He is lying to his case manager about us. He is lying to his cellmates about us. He is lying to his guards about us. He is reveling in the attention he gets as an abuser in his detention facility. He actually wants to appear perverse and is going to incredible lengths to glorify his crimes. He is not only stretching the truth, embellishing the truth, twisting the facts to fit his version of events – he is blatantly fabricating a home life so far from reality as to make it laughable… if only his hearers knew the truth. Instead, we are getting asked a myriad awkward and sometimes even offensive questions with the assumption that Asher must come from a broken, dysfunctional family. When we confront him on it he just shrugs. Sometimes he even smiles.
We received a report from his detention facility that showed concerning signs regarding his ability to recognize and feel remorse for the pain he inflicted on his victims. These reports will be pivotal in determining his final disposition and what treatment plan he is remanded to. He is more concerned about his discomfort and boredom than any difficulty his siblings are experiencing. Every visit is filled with incessant conversation about the unfair treatment he receives at the hands of “prejudiced” workers. He lies about complaints filed against him and from him (nothing is in the paper trail). He lies about his solitary confinement time (again, nothing is in the paper trail). He lies about it all. And he still smiles.
That smile that I want to slap off his face so fast and so hard. The same smile he used towards the end of his time at home when he knew he was egging us on with his out of control behaviors. I imagine it is the same smile he used when his siblings grew angry but he was able to out-maneuver them again with blackmail and threats. I see it in my nightmares.
How long, O Lord?
I am clinging to Jesus and begging him to hear my cry and understand my heart. Please have pity on me, your servant. Show me your steadfast love that I may rejoice in the morning. Let me dare to hope that I will again be glad and see joy. That this time of affliction and adversity will be turned to dancing and I will celebrate for as many years as I saw evil. Show me your work and open my eyes to see your power. Holy Spirit, let your favor be upon me and my family and allow the work we are doing to be established. Please, dear Jesus, do not leave us here.