“There is something else going on, isn’t there?” She was not taking her medication again. She always stopped when something else was going on at home. A breakup. Money trouble. Unemployment. It was a good bet.
“Doc, I can’t do it.” There was a quiet sob.
I looked up from the computer. She had tears streaming down her face again. “Do what?” I had seen the tears before. I felt annoyance rising up inside me. I put the computer down on the counter and handed her a box of tissues.
Then, the whole bloody mess came spilling out.
Her father had molested her repeatedly for years. In fact, she had been impregnated by him when she was twelve and the baby was put up for adoption. Now, as a young adult with two small children, her father was trying to reinsert himself into her life. Seeking counsel from her pastor she was told she had to forgive him, to allow him back, allow him access to herself and her children.
If she did not, she would be damned forever.
“I just cannot do it.” She moaned through clinched teeth, “If he touches my kids I will kill him.”
I will help you.
“That is not what forgiveness is.”
“What do you mean?” Her eyes bored into me.
“That is not Biblical forgiveness, being told you have to allow him back into your life in order to curry favor with God.”
“How do I know? How can I question what a pastor says?”
“I have a personal interest in forgiveness, particularly Biblical forgiveness. Forgiveness is for you, not him or anyone else. It is something that happens inside of you and cannot be mandated by anyone. It does not demand that you maintain any sort of contact with that man and it certainly does not demand that you endanger your kids.”
Her whole life, all of my experiences with her over the years, fell into place. The burden this woman was carrying around, weighing her down… Now some prick involved in spiritual malpractice?
“You ever get counseling?”
“I had to see one that wasn’t worth crap back when it all happened.”
“You need to find a new church.” She nodded as she wiped snot from her nose. “And you need a real counselor.”
Except that she was at the free county clinic seeing me. She floated from one part time job to the next, no high school diploma. There was no counseling available to her. I still worry about her and where she is now…