Plenty of us are ready to champion a cause for victim hood. We are armed with our pain. We are poised to tell our story. We are unlikely heroes waiting to sympathize with fellow sufferers and march down streets with paper signs.
I get it….I not only get it, I am driven by a desire to uplift downtrodden women. I am driven because I no longer want to feel that pain anymore. I have seen the devastation of emotional and physical abuse played out on my character and I am desperate to step in the gap between and scream directions to others who feel just as helpless…just as hopeless.
I meet with people daily who have been wronged, deeply and legitimately. I have met so many hurt people, so many who are scared and limping. I have seen the injustice of poverty, the heartbreak of rejection, the manipulation of the powerful, and the emotional scars of physical abuse. If you give anyone time enough to talk they will tell you of someone who has hurt them by one means or another.
…and yet, I have never met a villain.
Wounded lay everywhere and yet no trace of the weapon can be found.
Where are the villains? Where are the vindictive, the vengeful, the hateful, and the heartless?
We can think of a million ways we have been wronged but when we turn to see carnage in our wake, a sanctimonious amnesia sets in. If we do own any of our sins publicly, it is only from the safety of a historical setting… With the persuasion of our redemption, with an eye on our goodness…with the memory of a victim. I’m gonna be honest here, I am tired of hearing from saints who have been wronged; when I feel so fully the weight of being wrong and when I know the damage I’m capable of and the circumstantial sainthood of us all.
We never heal the superficial wounds because the deeper we carve, the more we discover that our villain was once a victim and you are now holding their knife. The simplicity of hatred has to evolve into all kinds of empathy and grace and we are forced to own a measure of the damage.
We’ve all heard it said “hurt people, hurt people,” But its so much easier to proclaim the hurt than to admit the hurting. I am the hero of my own story but when I look closely enough I am also the villain. I can show you my scars and justify my stabbing. I can tell you a story that would bring you to pity my misfortune and explain away all of my actions. In the next moment, if I am brave enough to stay in it, I can see the pain I caused, the people I failed, and the trust I broke. It is a humbling moment, nauseating and intensly uncomfortable.
That is where I meet the villain.
That is were I am compelled to fall down; exhausted from the pretense and the battle to maintain my veneer of innocence. That is where is see that I am both the adulterous woman and the pharisee poised to cast a stone… Guilty. Shamed. Defensive. Angry. Vengeful. Accusing. Desperately needing grace, but caught between fighting for self righteousness and falling on my face to beg for mercy.
(John 8:10-11 – “Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”)
When we are brave enough face it, and tired enough of pretending, God gives us grace enough to know ourselves. If we are honest enough, we will have grace enough for others because we know the villain we are capable of being and the mercy we are so desperately in need of.
When the victim acknowledges the villain we are compelled to forgive much as we have been forgiven of so much…
.(Luke 7:47-48 – “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”)