I’ve been catching up with the BBCs series ‘Broken’ depicting the work of a priest in a poor Sheffield community. I had been avoiding it to be honest, because of the little I’d heard, but spend some of my day off yesterday watching…
As I mentioned in my last blog, it was a difficult watch for me. But, as the series went on, I discovered just how closely some of my life’s experience is to the main character played by Sean Bean. The series reveals the trauma of his home life, and then sexual abuse by priests at his catholic school, and the way as a young man that he tried to processes this and how he seeks to make his life an ‘atonement’ for the bad done, seen and felt. The wounded seeks to become the wounded healer, the saver of others. Himself, he couldn’t save.
A few years ago, three years to be exact, my life came to a pause because I had to take a considerable amount of counselling to deal with parental hurt and trauma. I had to revisit so many painful experiences. I’ll spare the details, but I carried heavy things all the way from childhood, into my teens and twenties, and all the way into who I’ve become today and I needed to expose the wound and let the Healer Christ in to heal. It’s certainly been a work in progress, but I’m no longer tied in the way I was.
And then, the sexual abuse. Having ‘escaped’ something of the burden of home life through finding Christ and following in his way, I then had the misfortune to come into the relational circle of a sexual deviant who was sacrilege to the Salvation Army uniform he wore. He befriended me as a young man in my mid teens, and on three separate occasions, touched me in very inappropriate ways. I very quickly moved to a different SA church in another town, and never saw him again. He died many years ago. I carried that burden, confusion and feeling of shame for another nearly 20 years before disclosing it to the appropriate Police and Salvation Army safeguarding authorities. And so begun the conflict of being so incredibly thankful for the Salvation Army, but living with its shadow growing away like a cancer. I arrived at ‘The Army’ broken as a 15 year old teen. Some of its people broke me further. And I slogged away for 10 years as a Salvation Army officer as a wounded healer…desperate to ease other’s pain because I could do nothing about my own.
That is the sad, shocking truth.
The thing about Broken is that it is about the fulsome grace that appears when the truth comes out. All of our experiences make us what we are. They will either crush or destroy us, or they will lead us into greater dependency, vulnerability and humility, reliant upon the God of all grace. It is when we have fallen, in whatever way our fall has come, that we find ourselves falling into the Everlasting Arms. Being in touch with our wounds helps us understand the wounds of others. Being healed by Christ convinces us of his presence to heal others.
This is the Great Mystery.
Disciples of the Broken Christ on the way through calvary and the tomb to resurrected life.
Soli Deo gratia.