This week I asked God to show me things and events I take for granted or overlooked, things for which I’m thankful.
All y’alls probably don’t forget the epic moments in your lives that turned the tide for you. This morning I awoke with one such memory – that ended a friendship.
Typically I prefer to avoid dwelling on the dark times of my early past, but this week memories blessed me with a clearer perception of God’s infinite grace, the day I didn’t pull the trigger.
My family of origin is rich – with extremes. Some of those include violence. When I was young I witnessed such from a distance and was sometimes at the receiving end. While I not only survived but overcame them, they affected me. Not always in positive ways.
I left my marriage not solely to remove my sons and myself from physical harm but because of infidelity on many levels. We all got over it, but soon after the separation I recognized violent roots in me.
A good friend surprised the boys and me with a visit to our new home. She’d told me weeks before her new husband had shoved and grabbed her hard enough to bruise her. I wasn’t as happy to see him with her.
He quickly felt my reluctance to receive him and soon began urging her to leave. Forgetting all she’d confided in me, she simply said they wouldn’t stay long.
After chatting in the kitchen I started walking them through the house to show her the changes we’d made. Soon didn’t come fast enough for him. Entering the second room he grabbed her arm forcefully, insisting they leave immediately. I perceived violence.
Faster than I recall ever moving before, I reached into the closet we stood next to and retrieved the single action .22 revolver we kept at the back of the high shelf.
I aimed the barrel at her husband’s brow saying, “Let go of her, and leave.” My eldest son later said my strange, icy tone gave him chills from the other room and the pitch of my friend’s voice confirmed her terror as she warned her husband, “She will shoot. Don’t test her.”
The husband realized his life depended upon his next move. He slowly let go of her, raising his hands above his head. From the doorway, thirteen-year-old Iain stepped beside him, and taking his elbow urged him toward the back door saying, “Good choice.”
As the husband backed away with Iain, he cautiously said “Honey, if you’re ready I’ll be in the car.”
In my history the behavior and attitude the husband initially exhibited typically led to me bleeding. One of the last such instances, my friend was in the house during some of the brutality I had survived. In the present all I could think of was protecting my sons and perhaps my friend.
Iain guided the husband outside. After closing the door I lowered my weapon. My friend shocked me by shaming me for doing what I considered the best response to the situation. She cried saying she couldn’t understand me. I was dumbfounded.
Months before Erin came to take me to the hospital. I’d been hit so hard I didn’t get up. After I came to I determined it was the last time I was going down defenseless. The friend I presently stared at, mouth agape in disbelief, had witnessed the attack and called Erin.
As the couple drove away I checked the pistol and then put it back on the shelf. I gathered my sons and assured them everything was okay and then encouraged them to talk about what had just happened. Soon I asked Iain why he went to the husband. He answered, “I saw you hadn’t pulled the hammer back, but he didn’t.” Then shrugging his shoulders he quoted his uncle, “Neutralize the threat.” There were no other questions.
Iain has always astounded me – often in good ways. He never forgot Grandpa, a WWII vet, vigilantly teaching the family of huntsmen, “You hear that sound [a firearm cocking], drop wherever you are.” Iain had’t heard that distictive sound that day.
Minutes later we all returned to what we’d been doing before the guests arrived as though it was any other day.
In almost 25 years, I did not recall that event. After many changes in my life and my heart the memory came to me, tormenting me for days. At the time of that incident I was remarkably spontaneous, especially proactive regarding any perceived threat. A practiced shootist then, I gladly remember now that I never cocked the gun that day. It was the last time I’d pulled a firearm for over two decades.
Whenever I just breathe deeply enough to feel the familiar old scars where my ribs and scull cracked beneath my beloved’s boots, I am thankful. Today I’m thankful to be home safe and sound. I’m not proud, but I’m thankful for the times I stood against physical violence with equal force. And I thank God especially that one particular stand could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t.
Mostly I’m thankful for my sons. Against the odds they are peacekeepers today.
“When I think of all this I fall to my knees and pray to the Father… Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:14, 20 (NLT)
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