Have you ever heard God laugh? No. Here’s what you do: tell Him your plans. Then sit back and listen for the chuckle of the Almighty. It is kind of like my parents chuckling at me when I told them – at the ripe old age of four – that I was going to marry Buck Owens one day and be on Hee Haw with him. There is no malice in His laughter. Just Him saying, “oh my child, that is lovely… now let Me show you what *I* have planned…”
So... all five of you loyal readers are obviously breathlessly waiting to see what I told God that He laughed at, so I’ll give. (Note: this conversation with God was totally private, so I could probably get away with not telling any of you and you would be none the wiser. But then the rest of the post might not have as much impact. And He is definitely telling me to share that.) Let me lay some ground work for what my plan was.
People of the Second Chance (POTSC) have started a new campaign called “Never Beyond,” meaning never beyond grace. They will be putting out a new poster each week that has a likeness (or partial likeness) to a person - historical or contemporary, real or fictional - who has harmed society in some way. (I’m holding out for one of the posters to have the Cucuy on it!). POTSC has asked bloggers to then write a post about that person and talk about giving second chances. I was asked to participate and I said yes. (ask me in a few weeks how that is working out for me!)
This week our poster has Casey Anthony on it. If you are one of the three people in this nation who don’t know why she has been cast as a villain, please click here. I cannot vouch for Wikipedia having every detail right, but you will get the basic details of why there are plenty of people who don’t really have anything nice to say to or about Casey Anthony. Here is this week’s POTSC poster:
If you cannot read the text on it, it says, “who would you give a second chance?”
Here is where we get to my best-laid plan. I thought, “Sure, I can write something about her”. I started planning out in my mind how I would say that receiving grace does not mean we don’t have to face consequences – look at the thief on the cross next to Jesus. Jesus told that man that He would see him in paradise that very day, but He didn’t take the thief down off the cross. I would write about how even the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had accepted Christ before he was killed in prison. I would even remind you, dear readers, how I wrote a post back in June about Jesus wanting the heart of a war criminal. I was going to mention that having granddaughters makes the Casey Anthony case hit close to home. (By the way, all of these things are true.) I was going to write one righteous essay on this second chance deal!
I told God about this plan. After the chuckling stopped, I heard Him say, “really, Carolyn?” while giving me “the look”. You know, the look your Mom gives you when you are trying to sketch by with a fib? That look. Which is why it is often known as “the Mom look”. As His gaze pressed down on me, I could tell that He had His own plans and they did not in any way include me getting to distance myself from the issue and piously offer grace as if it were mine to dispense in the first place. I squirmed. I might have pleaded just a little bit. But I told you all awhile back that I was working really hard at not saying “no” to God (the results of that are always so messy). So here we are. Bet you are wondering what He had planned for me to say, aren’t you? I’m such a good guesser!
*fidgeting just a bit*
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where I say the hard stuff and hope that you see my heart – and God’s heart – in using my story for something more than the useless pile of manure it used to be before I came back to Him. It might be hard for you to read and I promise I will be asking for my own second chance before we are through. I wish this cup would pass from me, but I’ve heard people say too many times “I’m so glad you told your story - I thought I was the only one” to think that God isn’t serious about me telling this.
*so here we go*
There are many people who like to think they would have protected Casey Anthony’s daughter if they had been around that family. These are the people who cannot fathom that a mother would endanger her child in any way. Some of these same people are having a hard time extending grace and a second chance to Casey Anthony. You might be one of those people. But do any of us right here in the little land of my blog actually know Casey Anthony? No? Me neither. It is sort of just an academic exercise at this point, isn’t it? So let’s bring it a little closer to home.
A few weeks back, I briefly mentioned in a post that I had once hurt a child. If you feel the need to dredge it all up, you can find it here. So let’s talk about me for a moment (even though I would prefer not to). There are many details that I won’t give you, not for my own sake, but for the sake of that child. I am still in contact on the internet and by text with some of her close family members. They have shown grace in giving me forgiveness. They don't deserve to have to deal with this again. So I am going to err on the side of caution when comes to exposing them to hurt – again – in any way.
Some people ask, “was it an accident?” No, losing my temper and hurting this child was not an accident. If you are in a relationship where somebody is trying to excuse hurting you in any way by saying that losing their temper is an accident (or worse, saying it is *your* fault), contact me and we will get you some help. Losing one’s temper is not an accident. So no, what I did was not an accident. It was not pre-meditated either. I was feeling very hurt and used by her father. She was misbehaving and I lost my temper. I vaguely remember wanting to hurt somebody so that I would not be the only one hurting, but there was not a lot of thought that went into it. Just pure reaction. I spanked her. I kept spanking her until she had some nasty bruises. Did she deserve any of it? Never. And I loved her. Then and now. She was not a child of my womb, but I love her so much. The consequences of my actions were far-reaching and altered the course of that family’s history forever. I cannot give you more details without endangering their anonymity, so I hope you will leave it at that.
Was that it? Did I pull back in horror and change my evil ways? No. I did not learn to stop being a victim and passing the victimization on to somebody smaller - not for a long time. There were two more children (not at the same time). I did not hurt them as severely as the first child, but that matters not one little bit except that it is a detail. It only happened once per child, but that matters not one little bit except that it is a detail. The only way I have not killed myself to alleviate the guilt is by the fact that grace was extended to me from several directions. Too bad I take that grace for granted most days. God keeps offering it to me and I keep taking it, so I get “used to it”. If only I could respond with awe every time. I don't have to imagine what it is like for the Almighty to forgive horrid crimes against humanity. I know.
We can and should acknowledge the fact that I am covered by grace. We can talk about how I repented and God was faithful to forgive. Both very important points. Still, that does not change the fact that when you look at me, you are looking at the face of a woman who hurt three children. Just like when you look at Casey Anthony, you are looking at a woman who is part of a mystery that we may never unravel.
I don’t know what happened to little Caylee Anthony, other than she died in suspicious circumstances. I don’t know what Casey did or did not do to hurt her daughter. I know that she lied, because that was admitted in court. Other than that, I have no details. Even being the person that I am – so completely covered by grace – I think that I would be somewhat uncomfortable in her presence, at least at first. Then again, sometimes I am uncomfortable in my own presence. But regardless of whether or not I ever know the details of her daughter’s death and regardless of whether or not I get to meet Casey Anthony, I hope that she will get to know grace as I have known it. I hope that she will respond to Christ’s call. I hope she accepts the second chance.
Now let’s look at our poster again and ask the question, “Who would you give a second chance?”
I sure am glad that I heard God's laughter today.