How to react….?

In the last few months I’ve had a couple of situations that have left me uncomfortable and uncertain how to react.

The most recent one had to do with my love of books. There is a particular author whose Victorian mysteries I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. She does a wonderful job of creating the time period and the social classes and attitudes.

Because I do a lot of reading, I’m always on the look for new books–and when I was looking at choices for online reading on my tablet, I found a title with this author’s name in connection with a horrible murder. I thought that surely this must be something about how she got started in her writing…and it was–but not in the way I anticipated. Instead, it’s the story of two teenagers who killed the mother of one of them in a brutal murder in the 1950s. Interviewing people involved in the trial and looking at the documents that are available, the author of this book created a horrific story of narcissism and psychopathic behavior. The girls were found guilty and sentenced to prison for an indeterminate amount of time–eventually released. The daughter of the mother who was killed seems to have spent her life trying to make amends for her part in the murder…living a solitary life and eschewing publicity. On the rare occasions when someone has found her to raise questions, she has taken responsibility for her actions.

The other girl is the author I have enjoyed. Far from eschewing publicity, she has given interviews in which she seems to see the murder as merely a horrible teenage action…but instead of taking responsibility, she seems to have made a habit of creating excuses for her behavior. Granted that the upbringing of both girls was difficult–and this girl especially was both physically and emotionally abandoned by her parents at various significant developmental times in her life–this individual, while acknowledging that she had been expecting to be found for many years, seeks to place the major responsibility on the other girl and to excuse herself because of medicines and/or other reasons.

The other situation had to do with the breakup of a marriage. I had been sorry about it but had no knowledge of the reasons, nor did I want to. Eventually, though, I heard one side of the breakup, and while recognizing that there was undoubtedly another side to the story, what I heard seemed to place most of the blame on one individual. However, later I heard another side of the story–a very different one involving both physical and mental abuse.

Both of these situations have impacted my feelings toward the individuals. I’m not sure that I really want to read any more of the author’s murder mysteries…and I’m not sure I really want to see the other person again. I do believe in the power of repentance and forgiveness…but when there doesn’t appear to be any signs of that, I really have a queasy feeling in my stomach. Am I enabling repulsive behavior? Or–because there is no way that I can know the complete story because I’m not inside the heads of the individuals–do I treat them as I did before I knew more of their stories?

I’m not sure. It’s something I’m really puzzling over and trying to decide how to react. How am I going to feel most at peace?


4 thoughts on “How to react….?

  1. Pam, I sympathize with your plight! My opinion on the first situation is this: the author seems to continue her same state of mind by writing murder mysteries. But all we know is that she had a hard childhood and that she may have been taking medication, which makes me think there is a mental illness involved. If she is able to channel her mindset into books rather than horrible real-life actions, that is a good thing! If she is mentally ill, she may be incapable of true repentance, and if so, I believe God will accept her as she is, and so should we. Perhaps you could do some more research on her through the internet to help you decide. On the second issue, the break up of a marriage, i would cease any further contact with the one who committed the abuse. You don’t have to know the reasons why it happened, just that it did happen. You can find a way to forgive, but you don’t have to associate with that person. I try to remind myself that when something happens to someone else, its not up to me to do the forgiving, it is up to the victim to forgive. If i feel personally hurt by the action someone else took against another person, that i have to find a way to forgive in order to heal my hurt. in that case, i often pray for the forgiveness to be given on my behalf, until I am able to truly forgive on my own. I hope this helps! Barbara Howard wrote a wonderful book called The Road to Forgiveness, or The Path to Forgiveness, and it really changed how I view forgiveness in general. Maybe you can get a copy and see if it helps you. Blessings, Susan

  2. We had a situation in the congregation that has left me with some similar feelings. It was a divorce situation, and the man left his wife of 25 years for an affair. When the affair didn’t work out, he immediately moved into another one. He cut all ties with the church and the congregation at that point. He has really abused the first (now ex-wife) wife during the proceedings–refusing to follow the settlement agreement, not returning the things he took when the judge ordered him to do so, intentionally damaging the items that he did return, and lots of verbal abuse. He was married six days after the divorce was granted. He was scheduled to go to court today on contempt charges. I struggle with the idea that he obviously is having major mental health issues and the thought that he is really a jerk. I struggle with my reaction if he wakes up one morning and sees what he has done and needs ministry. Right now he does not want any church contact, but that might change if he sees how much trouble he caused for both others and for himself. I understand your blog way too well. Praying for wisdom for all of us. Sally

  3. I’ve found at least some partial solutions. Interestingly, I had already checked out a book by the author before I read the story of her involvement in the murder–but I had not started reading it. I decided to start reading it and see how it went, but I have not been able to get into it like I have in the past. Previously I could hardly put the books down; now I can’t pick it up. So I guess that’s my answer for that situation–the knowledge of what she did and her attitude toward it now have simply tainted the books to the point that I can’t read them. I CAN feel sorry for the girl that she was–and I can understand that young people’s brains are not fully developed until much later than we used to think, but that knowledge and awareness does not change my revulsion at her involvement and her refusal to take ownership of her part in the situation. There was no medical reason for her behavior. Despite what she has tried to claim about meds impacting her behavior, those meds were last taken 9 months before the murder, and they have never been withdrawn for causing the behavior she claims.

    In relation to the other situation, I am still uncertain. The individual involved provides a service (unrelated to the marital situation) that I cannot get elsewhere…and so I’m still struggling with how to respond there.

    • You are right about that author needing to take responsibility for the actions of her youth. We all have to do that in order to actually grow up. Trust your discernment, which is telling you to let go of those books, the energy of the author resides in her words, and you don’t need that negative damaging type of energy. About the second situation, as long as this person who is providing you the service that you need is not abusive to you, IF he/she was the abuser in that marriage, then I say keep your contact. But if he/she was the abuser, and you really can not get this service anywhere else, pray about it. Ask for guidance, and make sure you do not become the recipient of any abuse. In asking for guidance, it could be that a door will open for you to be of help to this person as well. My prayers remain with you sister. Susan.

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