catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 2 :: 2008.01.25 — 2008.02.08


Safe at home

“Are you serious? Are you crazy? What are you thinking?  Don’t you remember…I mean it’s your life…actually it’s your kids….Really, I am not okay with this.”  My mother was actually not so coherent when we were talking on the phone. Her words were punctuated with inarticulate sounds of grief and accusation.  Why the outrage?  We were having an intern live with us.

My husband and I loved this young man, an earnest college student, devoted to the Lord, co-admirer of documentaries, and willing to live in our tiny house with us for the next nine months.  But we were allowing a stranger (according to my mom) and a man into our home. 

We had thought this through carefully; we had to.  Our house had one bathroom, three small bedrooms and a very ‘cozy’ living room, dining room and kitchen.  If we were going to co-house it needed to be with someone eminently easy to live with, yet this was not what had my mom foaming.  The problem was that we had children.  Three in fact with another on the way and two of these precious ones were girls.  Not that it mattered.

It had been a trusted neighbor.

I had been about three years old. 

When they found out, God bless them, they believed and acted on that belief.  I remember lawyers.  I remember the courthouse, I may even remember the trial, though I was not actually in the courtroom.  The fact that my parents acted in a decisive manner makes my story different.  Nearly unique among those I know who have also been sexually abused.  But it does not change the fact that IT happened.

Security, the idea that I can keep anyone safe including myself is a myth that was busted for me when I was three.

So you see I have had to come to terms with reality: I cannot be with my children 24/7, I cannot be the only one who cares for them, I have to trust.  We, my husband and I, have to be as diligent and wise as we can be and then I have to release my children to the Lord, for they are the Lord’s to begin with.

And so I try to be calm, “Mom, I hear what you are saying and I know that you are saying it because you love me…but there is no one on this planet who is more concerned about this than Mike and I.  We are not going to be stupid, he won’t be babysitting.  You have to trust us to make a good decision…” 

I can only calm her so far and then she resigns herself to the fact that she can’t “make me see reason” and we leave it at that.  I wish I could somehow help her to understand that in the convoluted processes of my mind and spirit I have wrestled with so much pain, such shame and anger and I have come to a place of peace.  Peace that speaks to me about my own heart and its own dark inclinations, peace that reminds me that pain has taught me compassion—truly a peace that passes all understanding. 

I cannot make this world safe for my kids and I will not be able to keep them safe from all pain, heartbreak or (God forbid) even exploitation.  What I can do is love them and help them to see, in the words of C.S. Lewis, that even God is not safe.  He’s good, but not safe.  And so it is with this life: it’s good…but not safe.

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