August 15, 2018

by Patrick Sullivan

I met a woman today who spent most of our conversation lying to me.

She lied to me about what she knew and didn’t know.
She lied to me about what she really cares about and what she is willing to do to get it.
And she lied, sadly, about why she was about to do what many would consider a merciful act.

And how do I know this?

As a general rule we human beings are terrible liars. We can get better at it, but the fact of the matter is, we usually need to be motivated to do what God never made us to do.

And when that motivation is to sell the belief that one is the victim so that we can be compensated, fact forgetting comes as easily and clumsily as it possibly can. It makes sense if you think about it.

To make yourself a victim you need to leave out any other perspectives in the offence. To make yourself a victim you have to show how you really had no power (or at the very least did not have enough power) to resist what happened. You must be the one in the defensive position and not the aggressor; you must be the confused and not the clear sighted; you must convince others that you never sought out the very thing that came to pass; and above all, you have to seek out others who can repeat your story, because let’s face it, events of this kind are always much more plausible when it comes from the lips of another.

That is why this woman was speaking to me, a stranger.

The real victim is very different. They tend to blame themselves; they tend to try to cover up the offence; they tend even to try to convince themselves that they somehow, in some way consented to the abuse. And guess what? They almost never want to tell that story because it hurts too much or is too embarrassing or the victim fears more abuse, and often, it is all of the above.

Of course, this woman could have no idea that I have spent countless hours listening to real woundedness among my brothers and sisters in Christ. And she could have no idea that while my heart always breaks for real victims, the false victim – the barabbas among us – always makes my blood boil.

So I prayed for her and I listened. I smiled and nodded when it was appropriate, but I will not spread her story. For while she may have been a real victim in one thousand other things, in this she is an aggressor, saying untruths to gain a prize.

What is the message in all of this?

Speak the truth. In truth there is healing. In truth there is closure.

And if you know in your heart that you have really been wounded or harmed by those who should have been trusted, I am truly sorry.

May our good Lord send you someone worthy of your story; someone who over time can help you articulate what has really happened to you.

Just don’t give up hope. For while I know you can’t see it, you are needed in the healing of so many others. And I thank the Lord for those days to come.

Your friend in Christ,
patrick

PATRICK SULLIVAN

Catholic Lay Evangelist, Patrick Sullivan is an author, speaker, educator and founder of Evango, a Catholic media organization that meets the baptized where they are at while inspiring them to engage in the new evangelization.

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Catholic Lay Evangelist, Patrick Sullivan meets the baptized where they are at while inspiring them to engage in the new evangelization.

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