Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The True Story

This is a true story:

There was a Christian man who had several children. He loved his wife and he loved his children.

The man and his wife got a divorce. The woman told her children dreadful things about their father and why the divorce happened. The man remained quiet and would not defend himself. The children grew up believing what their mother said about their dad.

Grandchildren were born and told the same story. All blame for the terrible divorce was placed on the grandfather.

One day, the grandfather died. And years went by and great-grandchildren were born and told the same story as they were told. 

A half century went by since the divorce.

Until, now old, one of the children of the Christian man admitted to the family her father had come privately to her and pledged to her that he had not done what her mother had claimed he had done.  

The Christian man had admitted the divorce was partly his fault but that nothing, nothing of immorality was done, but it had been because of irreconcilable differences, no act of dishonor on either side.

The child had kept that part of the story hidden for fear her mother would find out she knew and it would upset her.

The child assumed the mother, the wife of the Christian man, had lied because she wanted her children not to blame her but be on her side against their father. 

The truth was out and everyone was shocked.

The great-grandchildren had seen the devastation of the lies the wife told. For two generations lies had been spread unknowingly. The Christian man had been shunned by the entire family because of the lies. Cousins had not seen cousins because the family had broken up. 

One day the Christian man’s grandchild sat down and took an overview of the fifty years of damage the divorce and subsequent lies had wreaked upon the family. And the grandchild cried, for there would be few who would really think about the effects of the lie. No one would really care about all the years the Christian man had suffered in silence while his family rejected him. Perhaps he didn’t know why. Perhaps no one had even cared to ask him if he had done the things he was accused of.

These things really happen all the time to many, many families and they did happen to my family.

As a Protestant, when I studied Catholicism, I couldn’t help but wonder if Protestants were not like me. We were taught to distrust and suffer over a story told in our family about a Christian man who had gone very bad and had done very terrible things. Because our parents had passed down a sincerely held lie, we were cut off from the fullness of the truth. We were cut off from a Christian man, imperfect but not at all what we had been taught.

Because of my family, I knew it could happen. And so I looked into Catholicism and I looked for the true story.