Cynic. Skeptic. Scared.

I vacillate wildly between these three. I am fighting so many battles on so many fronts and feeling like most of them are slowly losing ground that it is hard to believe hope will not disappoint me. I’m past counting the number of times I’ve believed Asher is healing only to realize I was duped. Again. It’s probably easy to see why I would begin to grow cynical and doubt the authenticity of any changes in Asher. Plus, if I don’t invest my hope in something I can’t control, I’m much less likely to feel like a fool when it falls apart. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

I’m skeptical that the changes Asher promises he’s making are real. Even as the words I longed to hear for years begin to come out of his mouth, unbidden, my head screams for proof. How am I supposed to believe you, son? How do I know you aren’t just getting better and better at this lying thing? What honestly makes me think that a single conversation, one that encapsulated a message made countless times before, really impacted you that much?

I’m scared to death that Asher is not genuine in this apparent transformation. I don’t know how I will go forward if we bring him home only to find that he is exactly the same person he was 3 years ago. Removing him from our home nearly broke us. Removing him again feels like it will cast the die for the rest of his life. There is no returning from that kind of betrayal. That’s what fear tells me, anyway.

I’m wrestling with all this while trying to get my head in the game for Friday. We are finally scheduled for victim mediation and Olivia will start. She prepared a letter she will read to Asher. It is short and to the point.

There are a few things that I think are really important to share with you. I’m glad that you recognize the ways the abuse hurt me. It did. But I got over it pretty quickly. I worked hard through therapy and talking with Mama and Daddy and I was ready for you to come home last summer. So, when you continued to act selfishly and without thinking of me or our family it hurt even more than the abuse because it wasn’t fair that you were the one who hurt us yet we were the ones trying so hard. 

You played such a major role in our lives. We had to consider you so much. We had to pay your bills, and worry about how you were doing, and Mama and Daddy had to take time to visit you, but you weren’t interested in loving them or working to come home. I was getting over feeling worthless from the abuse, but then I felt worthless all over again because of how you acted once you left. I admit that I’m concerned about whether the changes you appear to be making are real and if I can trust them. If you are still self-centered and more interested in making sure that all of your needs are met – even if they are legal – then I don’t want you to come home.

However, I’m thankful for your apology and I’m not bitter about the abuse. It was a season in my life that God planned out and will make good of it even though that doesn’t make it any more right. But I want you to know that I forgive you. If you are not going to be self-centered, then I’m excited to have you home.

Olivia Reynolds

The strength of my children astounds me. Olivia’s willingness to be bold about her feelings and not apologize for the ways she feels hurt and excited is a reminder to me that I don’t need everything to be in a neat box with a bow on top. Olivia is quickly able to accept that Asher may be genuine and if so, she is eager to accept him and move forward. But she is also unapologetic when she says that she doesn’t want him home if he hasn’t changed. And rightly so. A new Asher will appreciate where she is coming from and if not fully understand, at least fully support her. An old Asher will wail and fight against her only proving Olivia’s point. It’s a win-win for all involved.

I don’t want to be a cynic. Afraid to have hope in anything. And I don’t want to be scared. Jesus has brought me safely through this storm to this point and He will not cease to carry me further. As for my skepticism, I think a healthy dose of searching to determine whether there is authentic evidence for Asher’s changes is good. I just need to vigilently guard against that healthy skepticism getting out of hand.

I’m praying that Friday brings some answers and hope.