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A Shattered Heart Begs for Forgiveness
My body is physically ill, to the point where I feel like I’m gagging on my heart between my sobs. I feel so sick.
Tonight I watched the movie Philomena. The past few weeks I’ve been wanting to check out our local dollar theater, and I saw this movie listed on their building. I looked it up and the description intrigued me. But as the story goes, parents with young kids hardly, if ever, make it to the movie theater. But tonight I saw on Twitter that Rachel Held Evans described this movie as the “best faith film of the year”. I stopped there and told John we needed to watch this movie tonight. The plan was to enjoy a good film to unwind after a long and exhausting day (yeah, that didn’t happen).
Now for those of you who have seen it or will see it may find it sad, heart touching, and funny, but not find it as gut wrenching as me. And that’s totally legit. This movie probably wouldn’t have hit a nerve so deeply had my head and heart not already been throbbing with pain over recent injustices done around the world (ie: the hundreds of students/people who drowned on the South Korean ferry, the hundreds of Nigerian girls kidnapped and sold off like property, and more). So tonight’s movie was the tipping point. My head was full of recent learnings of injustice, and my heart could handle no more.
I cried throughout the movie, but it wasn’t until I was in bed afterwards, trying to calm my pounding heart and my racing mind, that my anguished soul got the best of me. I started to sob, quietly at first but increasingly louder with each gasp for air. After waking my husband, I came downstairs so as to not keep him up nor wake up the girls, as well as to give myself space to let it all out.
I circled and circled and circled our living room carpet as I wept. I wept for all the injustices done to every person who has ever lived for all of time. When you think about the Native Americans, the Africans, the genocide, the slavery, the torture, the rapes, the violence; when you think about all the mothers and fathers whose children were torn away from them, never to be seen again; all the sick and evil deeds done “in the name of God”, how can one not feel like they’re gonna throw up? How can one not be angry? How can one not sob uncontrollably?
And to know that we only know a fraction of the injustices done around the world throughout all of time. It’s absolutely o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-i-n-g.
As I walked circles in our living room, weeping and crying out to God, I kept muttering, “I’m so sorry. I’m so f*cking sorry.” over and over and over again. To who? No one in particular, and yet to every person whose worth and dignity and purpose was stripped from them in the name of God and/or through the hands of violence. To all the mothers whose babies were taken from them and sold or murdered. To all the children who never knew their birth families due to impenetrable layers of deception. To all the cultures whose beliefs and traditions were trampled on and forced to cease (at least publicly) in order for another culture’s traditions to take over. To all who were at the cruel hands of injustice, I beg for forgiveness.
I beg for forgiveness on behalf of those who did evil, thinking they were doing right.
I beg for forgiveness for those who knew they were doing evil and did it anyway.
I beg for forgiveness for those who did not know what they were doing but found themselves doing it. “Please forgive us, for we know not what we do,” I found myself saying. For it’s not just ‘them’ out there who’ve done evil. Evil is within my own heart, and I must confess it lest I deceive myself along with those who’ve done great evil thinking they were doing right.
I hope against all hope that the Apostle Paul’s words in Roman 8 are true, that our sufferings today cannot compare to the beauty and joy and love that is to come. Oh, how I hope that is true! It’s one thing to nod along in agreement when reading those verses; it’s another to believe that promise to the depths of your soul when faced with the overwhelming evil in this world.
So as I cried and mumbled my anguish to God, I asked him, “With how we’ve enslaved and murdered one another, with how we’ve split families apart and ruined cultures, how is there any good left in this world? How is there any happiness? How is this world still spinning at all?” And in the same breath I found myself saying, “It’s only because of your mercy that there is any goodness left in this world. Any strand of happiness is only because of you. Without you, we would swallow ourselves whole with our own evil.”
And so while this time of weeping and praying was filled with the ‘how’ questions – “How does your heart, O God, handle all the evil in this world? How is this worth it? And how much longer til it’s done, til you finally bring the pain and suffering to an end and renew and redeem this world and all within once and for all?” I found myself saying, “It’s only because of your mercy that there is any hope at all, any love at all, any wholeness left. And so I thank you. With a heavy and broken heart, I thank you. But I still beg you… come quickly, Lord. Bring this pain and suffering and all of evil to an end and let your love win.”
And that is my prayer.
*This was written a couple weeks ago, as I felt I needed to wait til my storm of emotions calmed down before publishing this. <3