I do a lot of praying. You have probably seen the various prayer request I post from time to time. And you know that we offer masses for various prayer requested each week. Most of the time those prayers are for people we know, friends and family, or friends and family of our friends and family. But what about the prayers for those that hurt us? Prayers for those we may consider our enemies?
This past week, I encountered an individual who I must now bring myself to forgive and pray for. This individual attacked me for supporting the LGBTQ community. In particular, he was angry that I support transgender individuals. It further angered him that I had a transgender daughter that I love and support. As a result, he decided to claim that I must abuse people and be addicted to porn. None of this could be further from the truth. I was abused by a relative in my childhood and I would never abuse someone else, adult or child.
He started making threats to have me investigated by various police agencies. This spawned a PTSD flashback. You see, when I was first ordained, the local Roman Catholic Priest convinced my family and the community that I was delusional. After all, there is only one “Catholic” church in the world, he claimed.
They were so concerned that they sent the police to remove me from my home at gunpoint. I was drug to the local police station to have a mental health evaluation done. They determined that I was not delusional. In fact, they documented that there was indeed an Old Catholic Church and that the local Roman priest had filed a false report.
However, that experience, coupled with the abuse I suffered, has left me rather leery of police in general. And when confronted by them, it does tend to cause me to have PTSD issues. Because of this one person’s lack of knowledge, lack of compassion, and their unchecked bigotry, I have dealt with that PTSD and depression all week.
I have struggled in silence all week. That was my own choice because I am trying to be more positive and uplifting in public. I did not share with anyone but my therapist because I did not want to burden others. This was a mistake. I could have used those prayers and the support of my family, friends, and faith community this week. I have no one to blame for that except myself.
As I sat to write this, I found myself unable to find the positive aspect in it. I reach out again to my therapist distraught that I wanted to share this experience, but I also wanted it to convey a positive message. My therapist pointed out that this could be a good lesson on forgiveness and prayer. And as usual, he was right!
This person who attacked me knows nothing of me. And that is part of what made the attack so difficult work through. I already struggle with feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and worthlessness. This attack only fed into those feelings. And I let it feed into them. I should have started immediately praying for him and working to forgive him. Rather, I allowed myself to vacillate on the pain.
Today, I am praying for him. I am forgiving him for the pain he caused me. He is forgiven for his attack and the flashbacks they inspired. And I will pray for him. I will pray that he finds peace and joy. My prayer will be that he finds love and acceptance. And I will pray that he learns to love and accept others.
I will do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And it will make me and hopefully him, a better Christian. Join me today in praying for those that hurt you. And let us together forgive them, for they know not what they do.