Monday, August 08, 2011
The story came from a kid who should have known, the subject's own brother-in-law, who told me--very seriously--that this guy, his brother-in-law, just married, was beating his wife. They were young, very young, still college students, in fact; and I was an elder in the church both young couples attended. In a way, it was my job, not to find out--an "elder" is not really some kind of gum-shoe detective--but to at least approach the kid, the abuser, to bring it up and offer help.
So I went to their place, an old house trailer on campus. Things rode along pleasantly enough for awhile until finally, I guess, I likely asked the question in a nicely temperate way, probably something like this: "So everything is fine between you two? I mean, the first year of marriage can sometimes be pretty rough, adjusting to each other and everything."
The accused looked at me and smiled, a wide-faced smile I swear I can remember to this day. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I know what he wanted me to hear--no, things were just fine between them. No problems. Still on the honeymoon, you know? In his wife's face, I read nothing to suggest that her husband's characterization was anything but spot on. Compliance. So I left.
It didn't take long, and what became public made all of that a lie.
I suppose I've been lied to a couple thousand times in my life, I don't know. But no memories remain as pointed in my mind as the bald-faced lie that kid told me in a trailer years and years ago. He looked right at me, smiled with all the innocence of child, and made me believe, with all my heart, that things were exactly as they seemed--when they were not.
Now again, I feel myself lied to. It wasn't as if I'd asked a pointed question and received in response a patent falsehood--it wasn't a case of darlingly grinning deceit. But I feel as if I was lied to by someone, another kid, I trusted. I gave this kid all kinds of leash because I trusted him; he took that long leash and somehow, unintentionally but stupidly, strung it around his own neck.
It's not the same really, but there's something in what just happened that brought me back to that bald-faced lie in the trailer. In both cases, I trusted them, but I also trusted my own instinct, my sense of human character, my bullshit meter. In both cases, I was wrong, dead wrong.
And what I'm wondering this morning is whether it's simply my pride that got knocked around, violated, abused. Do I feel the way I do because I got used, because I have to junk the meter? Is that it? I believed, I had faith, I trusted. And I got a sharp stick in the eye for my faith.
Am I angry because I can't trust as deeply again? Or am I just hurt? Deep hurt sometimes feels for all the world like anger, I suppose. What is it I feel exactly--this burning heart? Is it simply my own beaten pride?--and if it's just me, I don't want to know. If it's just my trust, my faith, my perception, then who cares?
What I'm wondering is, why is there no sun this morning?
When people lie to each other deliberately, something dies. I'm not sure what, but something dies.
That's really all I know--something that was alive simply isn't so any longer.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 7:01 AM