I’ve never pretended to know everything that he thinks, everything that he’s been through, everything he blames himself for. I think it is a part of depression, PTSD, or whatever label you want to place on it. No matter how much they trust you, they will never give themselves over to you, completely.
I accept that.
This is where faith comes in. I’m learning more about God in my own way than I ever did sitting at Mass every Sunday with my mom for 17 years of my life. CCD, or Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School never really went into more than the popular stories everyone knows and reads from childhood. I have had to do my own research as my trials came to me in order to understand how The Bible addresses them. The problem I still have with it all is the dichotomy within The Bible itself.
It is my understanding that God is a loving god. He loves all His creations. He only asks that you come to Him with your burdens. He knows you will sin. He knows your pain. He knows the evil in the world and He cannot stop the free will He has given His children. He patiently waits for you to come to Him, ask for help, ask for forgiveness. He will wipe away your tears and pain. If only you ask.
The Old Testament is full of stories about a wrathful, vengeful, jealous God. I think He was learning how to parent us with the whole free-will thing. When controlling us through fear wouldn’t work, He decided it was time to step back and let what will happen, happen. He did give us a path back to Him, through his Son, and let our free will decide how we will live, think, and do. While our choices make Him sad sometimes, and all he ever craves is for us to ask for His help. He sits and waits. He is the most patient being.
I do not understand how He can endure the pain of watching our failures and waiting for us to as for His help. This is where I sit, at the moment. Watching my husband beat himself up, simmering in his murky darkness, listening to him berate himself, watching him self-destruct.
My heart hurts so much for him. I do my best to show him positives, to keep his hopes up. I can understand because he suffers all day, every day, the pain. I come home and see it on his face. But what he shrouds behind his eyes, I cannot fathom. He’s only told me bits and pieces. I used to believe that everything was my fault. His pain, his suffering, his lack of love of life. It was my fault I couldn’t love him enough to fix him.
That was my guilt. I still struggle with it today, even though I know it is not my fault. But, as I always say, my emotional heart and my logical brain NEVER play nice with one another.
My therapist calls me a fixer. I want peace and harmony in everything I do. I want everyone to like me and no one to be mad or upset. Conflict is the bane of my existence. It’s my job to create peace, harmony, and love. And if it’s not working, I have to fix it. If I can’t, that’s when the guilt manifests.
I want to fix my husband, but I know I can’t. I know he’s the only one who can fix himself, and the first step is to WANT to be fixed. He’s taking the steps, but I don’t know if it’s because I begged him, nagged him, or what. But he’s going to my therapist.
The other night, he told me that the therapist had something profound to say. “Only you know when to stop tormenting yourself.” I asked him if he will ever stop. His response was, “I don’t know. There’s a lot I need to pay penance for.” I also mentioned that he’s not just punishing himself. He’s punishing his son and I. Maybe if I opened his eyes about that, I thought it might start him thinking that maybe he needed to change. But his immediate response scared the hell out of me.
“The sins of the father.”
That stopped me in the tracks. How could he believe in that. What did it really mean. It couldn’t mean what everyone thinks it means. Could it?
I did tell him that I don’t believe, no, I CAN’T believe that God will punish a child for sins the father did well before the idea of the child was ever conceived? Children are innocent in His eyes. This is another issue I struggle with about the Catholic religion. Children go to Hell if they are not baptized; therefore, the Catholics baptize the child as soon as possible. How can they make the conscious choice to follow God’s Word? But I digress…
So, with that weighing heavily on my mind, I began to research the meaning of “The sins of the father.” I’ve read The Bible a few times. Once as literature for a college course and once for my own purpose. However, I find it quite difficult to understand the language and the meanings of the words. I struggle with “lost in translation” because, how many times has The Bible been translated over the years? I know that meanings of words change with the times. I know that there are certain words that you can get the jist of the meaning, but the direct translations usually fail. It’s just not quite right. Or the meaning is completely lost. Maybe I over-analyze?
So here I am, looking at the words in Exodus.
Exodus 20:5 “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”
Exodus 34:6-7 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Four generations of God’s wrath? Really? This is how I read the words. That God punishes the children for the sins the father committed, and will continue to punish them through the fourth generations. Why? Why would he do that? I kept trying to understand those words. But all I could see was the negative in it.
I am of the mind that God is all loving. Ever since he gave His son to us, He has removed His vengeance and wrath. He loves. Exodus is in The Old Testament, before Christ. So maybe that’s why He punished the person through four generations.
I brought this all up to my therapist. He’s a Christian therapist and knows a lot more about The Bible than I. And he brought me to another understanding in the Exodus passages. That the Lord will punish the one who hates Him, and their generations. Not just anyone who sins. I need to show this to TheHubs and let him see the context. No one quotes the whole passage, it seems, and that’s where I get so confused.
A few other passages my therapist brought to my attention, regarding the sins of the father, is found in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel.
Deuteronomy 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.
Ezekiel 18:3-4 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. 4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.
Both of these books are in the Old Testament as well. The dichotomy of The Bible still holds. However, I was not reading Exodus properly. And, as I said earlier, the quote is always half-quoted. Now that I can see that the sins of the father are “of those who hate me,” I can better understand the meaning. I hope this will show my husband the same things I now see.
The challenge I face now, is showing this to TheHubs and allowing him to process it and come to his own conclusions. My challenge, is patience. I am not God. I am not perfect. I cannot fix things. I want to be my husband’s guide, showing him positives and hope, and showing him the path to getting better. I pray, now, for the Lord to show him its OK to let it go, to forgive himself. I pray the Lord to give me the patience and strength I will need as I watch my husband walk his own path to getting better.