A very close friend of mine named Brian asked me to meet him for lunch. He said he was feeling angry and miserable. We met at Mimi’s Cafe, which is our traditional place to meet. I had their soup, which is always wonderful.
I could easily see he was not feeling very comfortable. After we had been together for awhile, he got around to telling me what he had been thinking that had robbed him of his serenity.
He said, “Why did I have to be born into such a dysfunctional home. Why couldn’t I have been raised by a loving, attentive Mother and a normal Dad who wasn’t an alcoholic. I am tired of having to fight and struggle so I can be a healthy person.”
He went on like that for a few minutes. I let him talk and just listened attentively. After awhile, he wound down and got very quiet. He didn’t look angry anymore, just tired.
My friend knew my story. He knew that, as a child, I had been abused in about every way a kid could be abused.
I said, “Brian, I do not have an answer to your question. But I can tell you this. One of the finest privileges of my life is being your friend. I am so glad that I got to be the one you called when you were feeling bad. What a terrific thing it is that I am having lunch with you right now.
The reason you called me this morning is that when I was a boy I was so abused. You thought maybe I could help you because I have worked through much of that abuse. In a strange way I am thankful for all those hard early years. All those years of pain and the help God has given me, are the reason we are together at this very minute. And not only that, most of the things I like about myself, stem from the fact that things were so hard for me as a boy.”
[As I am writing this in a community room someone sat down at the piano and started playing Amazing Grace. That is no coincidence as far as I am concerned. I see it as one of God’s little personal notes to me. It is amazing that God’s grace can turn abuse into blessing, if the abuse is turned over to Him. “Let go and let God” is a wonderful way to live.]
It is not that the abuse has somehow become good. Unacceptable behavior never ceases to be unacceptable behavior. It is that God is so good, and so creative, and so powerful, that any evil I am able to turn over to Him can work out for my benefit. That is one of the messages of the cross of Christ. Even the murder of the innocent son of God has worked for the good of mankind because Christ surrendered his death to God.
That is the basis of St Paul’s remark,” All things work together for good.” All things are not good, but all things can work together for good because God is so good.