Dark Devotional: Their Fathers’ Wickedness

Dark Devotional: Their Fathers’ Wickedness March 3, 2018
Life, death, time. That about covers it.
In those days, God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD, am your God, 
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves 
in the shape of anything in the sky above 
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; 
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, 
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness 
on the children of those who hate me, 
down to the third and fourth generation; 
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation 
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
I’ve spent much of 2018 reflecting on the past. My own past, my present, my future. I’m only 23, but much of my past is dark. I come from a family dominated by a tyrannical man. My father abused my mother, my brothers, myself, and convinced us all it was love.

Over the past three years, I’ve been healing. When I read these lines from Exodus this morning, for the first time they do not cause me excruciating scrupulosity or self-hatred. Instead, I see in them the Mercy of God, and that is an odd experience for me. I see Him speaking to me, reminding me He has freed me from the slavery my father inflicted upon us. It’s a reminder that I must not flee one form of slavery solely to fling myself into any other.

My father was an idolator: he worshiped the rubrics, the vestments, the private revelations and old teachings that reinforced his misery, his misogyny, his tyranny. And the punishment for his idolatry poisoned his family. We were conceited. We judged others, as we were taught to do. And we judged ourselves even more harshly. I hated God as I proselytized to others about His rules and damnation. I hated him.

Now I am grateful that portion of my life is firmly past. My present is good, and my future exciting. Life is weird these days. Witches and queer folk have befriended me, bringing me kindness and peace. They’ve taught me the truths hidden behind the commandments, showing me I could love them, for they are nothing like my childhood indoctrination dictated. Now, as never before, I do love my God. That’s new. I like it.

Marie Kopp is a member of the Sick Pilgrim community, a scholar, and a writer.

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