All My Good Depends On You

 

Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; 
I have said to God, ‘You are my God,
all my good depends on you.’

 

Psalm 16:1

 

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In You I Trust

Trigger warning: mention of child abuse

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In a few previous posts, I’ve talked about my family, about my abusive father, co-dependent family dynamics, and about the silence of my mother and siblings who are protecting him. 

I’ve done a lot of work in the last years for my own recovery, for health, for healing. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come, and I’m grateful for the friends who are supporting me, for the Community that is my home now, and most of all for God’s love and faithfulness to me throughout all of this. These are what holds me up, and they are essential to the change towards good in my life. 

Last November, I went on retreat, and at the beginning of it, my prayer guide gave me psalm 139. “God, you have examined me and you know me…” It ends, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; see for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life” (version in The Message). 

At the beginning of the retreat, I didn’t really connect with this psalm, at the end, I had my response to it. There was something wrong that needed addressing, and God pointed it out to me, and we did something about it. It wasn’t easy to hear, and it most certainly was not easy to do.

In what I’ve posted here before, I mention that my sister and her family now live with my parents. That includes her children, her daughter and her son. I have been concerned for quite some time about the safety of the children, about the fact that they live in a house with someone I know to be an abuser. My sister knows that too, but decided that he’s no threat to her children, apparently. “Everything is fine now.” But there has never been a conversation about the abuse of both me and her between our parents, there never has been any conversation between my father and a counsellor or anything of that kind. Nothing has been dealt with. I did my talking with friends and counsellors, she had therapy, but he never dealt with any of it. And I felt unable to visit at all anymore since they live there, unable to be in that house and see them share it with my parents. Nothing is different than it was, and the children are not safe, particularly my niece.

The thought of contacting social services or the police to report my concern had been with me for some time as well. I had even looked up their contact details in my home town, bookmarked it on my computer. But I had not yet made that call (hoping that I would not have to make it).

I tried to have a conversation with my mother about my concerns, who refused to engage. I tried to have the conversation with my sister and got the same response.

I remembered two conversations on retreat where my mother and sister echoed each other – when I first told my mother about the abuse, she told me that she had thought that “you can defend yourselves while you’re awake”… When I brought up the issue of my niece’s safety with my sister last year, her response was that her 9-year-old daughter “can defend herself”… 

It’s hard to comprehend what is going on with either of them, how they can think like that. 

I’ve had several comments from my mother that seem to shift responsibility for the abuse to me and my sister. Last year she asked me if I am trying to “punish myself” by staying away…

I mentioned a few things about the general ‘family situation’ to my prayer guide on retreat. She picked up on the fact that there are two children living with an abuser and she brought it up with me, in rather clear words. Including the need to take steps to protect them as far as is within our power. 

So that’s what we did in the end.

We called the police to report our concern about these children’s safety. I called the police to tell them my father is a child abuser and that there are two children living in the same house with him.

I’ve had a couple of months to digest this a little now, while waiting for the police or social services to get in touch with my family. So I can write about this now. At the time, I was just in pain. I hurt, all of me hurt. At the necessity of it. At the impossibility of making that call. At actually doing it. I hurt so much. Because yes, these children need protecting. But this is my family, this feels like betraying family, and it will certainly be received as such. This is making a decision that makes it highly likely that I will lose my family, or what’s left of it. This is making a choice that includes letting go of any hope I still had for these relationships. It’s a horrible thing to have to do. 

But God made the impossible possible. All week on retreat, I felt so loved, held, wanted  by God. So cared about. God was with me with so much tenderness, such deep love. 

If I did not have this relationship, I could do nothing. I could not have taken such a step. But I had courage enough, just enough, to make the call, because of Her love for me. 

And She will sustain me whatever happens from here on.

I’ve been waiting since then. It takes time for these calls to be processed and followed up.

Today, I had an email from my sister, asking me to call her, with some urgency.

It’s quite possible that the report has now led to action being taken there.

God be with me, and with her, in that call.

 

Whoever goes to the Lord for safety,
    whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
can say to him,
    “You are my defender and protector.
    You are my God; in you I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

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With Yourself/ First

Rupi Kaur

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O Tell Me The Truth About Love

Some say love’s a little boy, 
And some say it’s a bird, 
Some say it makes the world go round,
Some say that’s absurd, 
And when I asked the man next door, 
Who looked as if he knew, 
His wife got very cross indeed, 
And said it wouldn’t do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas, 
Or the ham in a temperance hotel? 
Does its odour remind one of llamas, 
Or has it a comforting smell? 
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is, 
Or soft as eiderdown fluff? 
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges? 
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it 
In cryptic little notes, 
It’s quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats; 
I’ve found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides, 
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian, 
Or boom like a military band? 
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand? 
Is its singing at parties a riot? 
Does it only like Classical stuff? 
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet? 
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house; 
It wasn’t even there; 
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead, 
And Brighton’s bracing air. 
I don’t know what the blackbird sang, 
Or what the tulip said; 
But it wasn’t in the chicken-run, 
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces? 
Is it usually sick on a swing? 
Does it spend all its time at the races, 
or fiddling with pieces of string? 
Has it views of its own about money? 
Does it think Patriotism enough? 
Are its stories vulgar but funny? 
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I’m picking my nose? 
Will it knock on my door in the morning, 
Or tread in the bus on my toes? 
Will it come like a change in the weather? 
Will its greeting be courteous or rough? 
Will it alter my life altogether? 
O tell me the truth about love.

 

WH Auden 

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For Those Who Have Far To Travel

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

 

© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com

 

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To Thine Own Self Be True

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…and it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

 

(W. Shakespeare, “Hamlet”)

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Peace Be With You

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