Cal’s story (‘Behind the Story’ see history on right) is common in that he is one of many on the streets who has suffered violence and abuse in his childhood and still lives with the pain. I asked him how old he was when it all started. He stared at me and said, ‘Always. Since before I can remember. Me and my brother too.’
How do you deal with something like that? How can you expect anything from a man who has suffered that kind of hellish childhood? And this from his father!
Honestly, I am at a loss to know what to say to this man who has told me about the deepest pain that anyone could endure, and I look at him and listen. I can’t fix this. He has lived for fifty some years and is a survivor, but his torment never stops – ever. It’s not something that you can just pack away somewhere and ‘get on with life’.
This week I was in and out of the drop in ‘on the fly’ but took a moment to sit and visit with Cal. I can only imagine the courage it took to tell me his story and I was humbled that he allowed me to share in it. I sat down and he started immediately to pick up the story line. His brother calls him weekly and brings queries from his mother, and the festering wound never heals.
After some time I asked Cal if he would consider thinking about something. Just think about it. One word. We don’t even have to talk about it now, just think about it. And then I said the word. Forgiveness.
His response was quick and immediate. ‘Oh yea, forgiveness. I’ve done that,’ and then in the next breath, ‘No, I haven’t… I can’t.’
We’re going there – if Cal wants to. Seriously, I’m not sure it’s humanly possible to forgive someone for the kind of wrongs that Cal has experienced.
I couldn’t. But that’s where God comes in and helps us do what we could never do. It isn’t easy and it isn’t quick and it’s not some magical trick.
But I know it can happen. I’ve seen it happen to many people over the years and it’s happened to me. God works in and through me and does what I cannot.
This is my hope and prayer for Cal.
Question: Where do you think human and divine forgiveness meet? Has this been a part of your life experience?