God is Good
It’s the middle of May 2017 as I write this and while I wrote (what I thought) was the last chapter to this story a couple months ago, I have felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me to give one last update. So here I go.
Paige and I have now been in Melbourne Australia for over 3-years trying to rebuild what we once had. It’s come with hardship and a great cost, but I can also say definitively God has been with us all the way. I can recall many years ago being spoken to how God would “restore what the locusts had taken away”. And while it hasn’t been overnight, I am happy to say God is blessing us in ways never thought possible as well as ways that are undeniably Him.
We left Enjoy Church in 2015 and we found ourselves dangling for a while. It was a combination of a lot of things that drove us away. In a sense, I felt like we were treated like a pariah. A very wounded family that was left to flap in the breeze. And as much as I expressed that we needed help, it wasn’t to be found. The truth is we needed to be loved unconditionally to work through some really tough things. But probably the overwhelming issue with Enjoy was how Hector was handled… or not handled for that matter. And as I continued to write this blog and figure many things out, despite any and all shortcomings of my own (and there were plenty), I realized Maggie’s sexual assault was the beginning of the end. What I believe Maggie was looking for though was a man to protect her and take her out of that situation. And sadly, I had no clue just what he did until over a year later when Maggie finally told me in better detail what Hector did. By then it was too late. Paige blames Maggie for not telling me. “Mom should have told you exactly what happened!”, she demands. I agree with Paige because I would have handled it much differently. And possibly a lot of pain and heartache could have been avoided. That’s not reality however.
Paige and I have been seeing a Christian counselor for the last couple years working though many things, and of course Hector was at the forefront of my mind. Coming out of a session one day I decided I needed to speak to Hector’s brother in-law Rudy about how to approach Enjoy Church in an effort to hold them accountable. Sadly Rudy took an incredibly selfish stance blaming me for everything even going so far as to say to me, “Well maybe if Maggie loved you enough she would have told you.” Unfortunately that one line and his unapologetic attitude following severed the relationship. Even when confronted months later he managed to reiterate that sentiment. It’s amazing how Satan just gets a hold of a little bit of pride in you and years of relationship destroyed in a moment.
Shortly after this incident, Mick from Enjoy called me to a meeting over coffee. In a nutshell, he thought I should go pursue Rudy even if he wasn’t seemingly apologetic. In a sense Mick was right as if you look at Jesus and his deciples, many times I think Jesus could have taken great offense to their actions and just walked away from them. But Jesus is perfect love. But it was a later engagement with Rudy to where his pride covered any inkling of sorrow and accountability. However the icing on the cake for me was when Mick confessed Hector was asked to leave Enjoy as he had assaulted another woman from Enjoy. I was furious asking in desperation why he wasn’t in jail. All Mick could say was, “We can’t force her to go to the cops… that’s her decision.” I insisted, “You at least have to tell her this was not the first time he did this!” But as was typical for Enjoy, this got swept under the rug.
I have since looked into trying to take legal action against Hector as well, not for the sake of revenge whatsoever. But simply for the sake that this guy needs to be stopped, and unless something is done legally, I’ve no doubt he will continue. Unfortunately it’s going to take Maggie pressing charges herself to make this happen.
Paige and I found a new church nearby called Lifehouse. As I’ve told the pastor, “Your church is prayer answered I wasn’t even praying.” And over time Paige and I have established ourselves very quickly volunteering and contributing. While there are several familiar faces of people that migrated from Enjoy, probably the #1 thing that has caused us to stay is how genuine people are. It’s much much more like the church we left in Florida, and it makes me sad that Maggie isn’t here experiencing this. If this was the church we had come to when we first arrived, I know a lot of the heartache experienced could have been averted. But that’s a rub with what I am sure God had designed in all this. I know 100% Enjoy is where we were meant to be when we first arrived. And so with God being an “all knowing” God, He would have known the conflicts we would experience as well as the assault from Hector.
Jerimiah 29:11 says That God knows the plans He has for me. And these are plans to prosper me and not to harm me as well as plans to give me hope and a future. The hard question is why would God send us all to this church if He knew all this would happen. I am sure my own answer to this pales in comparison to the depths of God’s answer, but this is what I have. The Bible tells us we have an enemy that is here to steal, kill, and destroy. So it’s not right (and is sin) to blame God for any and all of the “wrong” that Maggie and I experienced. And through hard times I believe that God is constantly reaching out to us to try and get our focus on Him, rather than our problems. But it’s when our focus is off God that we worry, and fear, and focus on ourselves. I think God also allows hardship to get people to focus on Him. I’ll never forget Mick saying to me at one stage, “Maggie has to hit rock bottom before she’ll see what she’s done.” And how many people do you know that are addicts that talk about hitting rock bottom before they turn their life around. This falls in line with God’s perfect love. God doesn’t want robots, but rather a people that has freely chosen to love Him. And God is constantly extending that hand saying, “Come to me… focus on ME!” Satan can be cunning though and use people’s “hurts” to influence you. You’ll say to yourself “God wants me to be happy so my sin will be overlooked.”, or “I mean well and I’m a good person and God loves me, so it’s okay if I’m living with someone because we love each other.” If you are not grounded in the Word, it’s very easy to be deceived. And because God is extending His grace to us (the delayed punishment for our sins giving us time to repent) we are deceived into thinking it’s “okay” in God’s sight. In a way, we become our own “god”. Sadly, this is where Maggie is.
The Holy Spirit has been very active with Paige and myself as we’ve worked through many things. Quite possibly the biggest issue has been a spirit of unforgiveness with Paige. Maggie has continued to email Paige over the years with varying degrees of misplaced blame. As such, Paige has become resentful, not just for the initial destruction of their relationship, but moreso for the continued inability to be accountable. Even recently I encouraged Paige to write her mother a letter painting a road map back to her. It was an incredibly detailed email explaining exactly why she was angry, but also was very clear that if she wanted a relationship with her again, it would start with accountability and repentance. The letter was clear, concise, and incredibly well thought out. Maggie’s response, while not shocking, was disappointing and gave us an idea as to how far gone Maggie is. Within the first paragraph Maggie dismissed all her shortcomings and then just continued with a delusional blather. It’s made Paige bitter and brought her to the brink of giving up on her mother. Thankfully God never gives up on us when we dismiss His truth!
Most recently Paige and I have been guided to create a room in our home to receive Maggie. From an outside perspective looking in, I will be the first to admit this is “crazy town”. Even after all Maggie has done to us, we’re doing this. I think the feeling is like holding your breath and jumping out of an airplane… you know you’ve got to jump and you really hope that parachute works. But Jesus is our parachute, and if He says jump we just have to do this knowing with 100% certainty that no matter what, He will catch us. Our job is to take that step of faith.
I encourage all who have taken the time to read this to pray for Maggie. God is setting the stage for something big, although I can only image what it is. But no matter what happens and unfolds, just like when I started writing, I know God will get the glory. In the end it’s not about me or Maggie or Paige or you.. it’s about Him. And while I wasn’t always happy with many of the things that happened along the way, I’m grateful I was never forgotten.