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Mercy for me – justice for others

I don’t subscribe to that.

I find myself living to the contrary.  Justice for me and mercy for others.

I have a hard time accepting mercy or even believing I deserve it.  I hold myself to making amends and am pretty hard on myself.

But others …

Some of this might sound a little like I’m siding with, or making excuses for some pretty awful people.  Please bear with me.

I hope I can make my point well.

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It breaks my heart when I hear about a young person committing a horrific crime.  Yes, even Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  He’s still a teenager!

It’s a proven fact that the brain is not fully developed until aged 25. 

The ‘thinking through’ process isn’t there yet.  Not completely.

What he participated in is atrocious, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of his life too.  A bad decision, (to put it mildly) perhaps born from peer pressure,  constant teachings from someone he trusted and looked up to – has taken any future he might have had.  Gone.  In the blink of an eye.  No do-overs.

Adults too – Consider this scenario, having gone to dinner – perhaps an impromptu celebration, someone has a glass of wine too many. They get in their car, and end up killing someone.  This is was not premeditated – the person is not a murderer.  I wonder about their lives before – odds are they were a great parent,  gave to charity, were of service, had friends they supported, family they cared for.  Their future, Gone.  In another blink.

Even when I’m behind someone who’s driving erratically in front of me – I stop and think “Well, maybe they just got into an argument with a loved one, or perhaps they’re running late to work and this is the last chance before they lose their job.”  I don’t get angry.  I slow down.  I consider there is more to the story than I’ll ever know.

But when it comes to me …

I like to think I’ve forgiven myself for the things that haunt me still.  If God forgives me, I have no business not following suit.  But it’s difficult.

I’ll be honest – when things go awry, there is a part of me that thinks I deserve it.  The part of me that has grown so much spiritually, glares at the illogical part of me that believes this then rolls its eyes.  I know better.  But it is still a part of my thinking. 

I pray sometimes for help forgiving myself. 

I feel more for others than I do for me. 

I have an obsession with the mentally ill.  I’m fascinated by the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of behaviors I don’t understand.  I watch shows like Lock Up and the like, and I see a vacancy in murderers eyes.  I think, they are capable of such atrocities for a reason.  Probably partially born that way, then environment pushing them into the wrong direction. 

What if they had love?  What if they had services to treat their mental illness?  How could they stand a chance without those things?

Of course, I mourn for their victims too – but I do find myself thinking about all involved. 

And it’s just such a shame – and such a loss.  Those men behind bars were once someone’s babies.  They were small and innocent and hopeful once.  Then lost.  Or perhaps never stood a chance.

And if my heart can be open for them, why not for me? 

Another thing to contemplate and pray on.

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Broken or evil?

In the news was a story about a missing 10-year-old girl.  The news now tells us that a seventeen year old boy has been arrested in connection to the abduction and murder of that little girl.

The teens mother called the police and he turned himself in.  I know in my head and my soul that was the right thing for her to do, but for the life of me – can not imagine or begin to fathom her pain!

It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes by W.H. Auden

“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table”.

I then think of the definition of evil. Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force.

Are people who commit murder evil?  Or are they ill?  I’m not talking about self-defense, I’m talking about taking someones life intentionally for no apparent justifiable reason.

Each one of us is capable of murder. But we’re wired to NOT.

So what is happening when there’s nothing in your head, heart or soul that shouts “NO!”  And what must it be like to go through life that way?

I’m not excusing, justifying or siding with murderers, please don’t get me wrong!

But I struggle with this.  If someone is born without the ability to understand right from wrong,  void of the ability to empathize or sympathize and is capable of taking someones life  – aren’t they too victims?  Wired differently – from birth.

It boggles my mind.

When I’m in public, especially a large chain store – I wonder who just smiled at me, who just brushed past me.  I passively interact with hundreds of people, and among them, statistics dictate there MUST be a sampling of child molesters, rapists, murderers …  that man who held the door open for me, does he go home and beat his wife?

I drive to work and see children waiting at various bus stops to go to school and wonder which ones didn’t sleep well the night before due to abuse in the house.

Bullies.  Well, of course I hated them as a child.  But I know now they’re projecting their own pain onto others.

There’s just so much more than meets the eye.  Definitely a topic I probably shouldn’t dwell too much on.  But I am fascinated by human behavior.

What courage it took for that mother to turn her son in.  I don’t know if I could have done that.  I think a part of me would be in such denial – my first instinct would probably be to want to grab my ‘baby’ and run!  Run away with him and try to make him well!

She did the right thing.

My heart aches for that little 10-year-old girl and her family.

My heart aches for the confessed murders family.

But is it wrong that my heart also aches for that 17-year-old who can never undo the life changing horror he committed?

“Rapture”

‘Back to back
Sacrailiac
Spineless movement
And a wild attack

Face to face
Sadly solitude
And it’s finger popping
Twenty-four hour shopping in Rapture’ – Blondie

This one’s going to be tough.  But it’s time.

I just watched a documentary called “The Released”, about mentally ill offenders struggling to make it on the outside.  To see the pain in their eyes – the hopelessness and helplessness, just broke my heart.

Something an Outreach member said really stuck with me. “People are being released with one to two weeks of medication and being told to follow-up at this time and this date with this agency.  Which assumes that they have the judgement that they need to continue their medications as prescribed and it also assumes they have the cognitive capacity to be proactive with phone calls, making appointments, discussing how many days of their medications they have left.  It assumes a lot”.

I had never thought of it that way.  How does someone mentally ill remember that it’s time for their pills? I occasionally forget to take my heart medicine – and always have had a hard time remembering to take antibiotics three times a day!

I’m digressing.  Or avoiding.

Bottom line is I was reminded of a topic I want, or need to share about.

Back to rapture.

Sixth grade, and I’m in a new country, a new school – feeling completely lost and out-of-place.  I met someone who would become my best friend for many years.

In the locker room she was singing ‘Rapture’ and she knew all the words.  THAT was impressive.  There began a friendship that would have more of an impact on me than I could have known.

We had our good times – but even the good times had an undercurrent that I didn’t have the understanding or life experience to identify.

I felt it – always felt it, but couldn’t put my finger on what was ‘off’.

My best friend was cruel.  My best friend was a ‘bad influence’.  My best friend was a chameleon, because she hid her sickness from parents and peers and saved it all for me.

There were constant threats to keep me in line. And constant verbal, physical and mental abuse. She took me on her wild ride and I so desperately wanted her acceptance that I followed.  She was all I had.  I didn’t see it at the time, but she was also the reason she was all I had.  Why didn’t I end the friendship?  I was scared of her and scared to lose her.

She would sing ‘somebody wants to hurt somebody’ as we lay in the dark at her house.  She could do a spot on imitation of the Excorsist growl.  She effectively isolated me from others at school by embarrassing me and telling me she was my only friend. It got to the point I would drop in the hall when she asked me to tie her shoe – and do it.

She introduced me to lying, to sneaking out, to drugs.  I remember thinking when I was scared “I just want to go home”.  I didn’t want to be where we were.  I didn’t want to do what we were doing.  But I was just a kid, scared to say no, and I did as I was told.

I was terrified of my best friend.

There was an atmosphere around her that scared the hell out of me.  A darkness.  A thickness in the air of almost palpable evil.

Wow this is hard.

Our Freshman year of High School, something shifted.  And I’m honestly not really sure what the catalyst was, but she delved deeper into debauchery with a new friend and I found a healthier ‘relationship’.  She ended up leaving the school – and town – and getting married then pregnant.

I’m leaving a lot out, I know.  Truly, I’m really uncomfortable even thinking about the years we spent together.  I didn’t anticipate feeling this.

We’d cross paths now and again.  Then our paths didn’t cross for a very long time.

When I had my son, I spoke with her.  She revealed something that made a lot of things make a lot of sense.

She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

In conversations over the years following that revelation she shared more.   Before she was diagnosed and treated, she had tried to kill her daughter.  She didn’t believe it was her daughter at the time.  Even on medication the voices never left her.

God, what she must have been going through all those years!  My torture a direct result of her inner turmoil.  I didn’t know!  I didn’t know.

I’m a little ashamed to say this was almost a relief.  It wasn’t me!  She couldn’t help her behavior.  I wasn’t a target because of anything I was.

But I couldn’t forgive her.

While her condition obviously wasn’t contagious – our time together had a profound affect on choices I would come to make and my own mental health.  Combined with other life events, her actions left me feeling less than, ugly, worthless, afraid, submissive and unimportant.  We’re so impressionable during those formative years!  We’re becoming the people we’re going to be as we soak up our immediate environment and draw upon what we experience.

It took years to figure out I could decide who I wanted to be and change my life.

We met again many more years later.  This girl who had always put me down and told me how much prettier she was than me was now morbidly obese due to the medications she was diligently taking.

She told me I looked like a model. She looked at me with clear eyes and I was undone.

But, I still couldn’t forgive her.

She sent Christmas cards, tried to contact me – sent me letters.  I’d call her occasionally, she’d share what was going on with her and her family.

And I still couldn’t forgive her.

This last Christmas I sent her a card – and didn’t hear back. This was strange, because prior to the holidays she’d called my mom and asked her to have me call her.

I hadn’t called.

I thought about her more and more and eventually did try to reach her.  Her phone number was disconnected.

I found her sister on Facebook and sent her a message asking if she was alright?  No response.

My gut tells me that she is no longer with us.  I can’t explain why – just a feeling.  Something has happened.

She was sick – and I wish that girl singing ‘Rapture’ in the locker room in 6th grade had found relief sooner.  I wish she had known a peaceful heart and a quiet mind.

I wish I knew where she was, because, I want her to know that I forgive her.