Monstrous Behavior and Monsters

monsterContinued from here.

This week, I’m focusing on how forgiving those who hurt us can help transform our perception of them from monsters to broken people. My inspiration for this topic came from this quote from the movie I Can Only Imagine:

My dad was a monster. I saw God take him from being the man I hated to the man I wanted to become.”

Today, I’ll focus on the monster part, which is easy for us to relate to. I had no problem seeing Bart Millard’s father as a monster as he broke a plate over his head, told him that he isn’t “good enough,” or admitted to beating him so badly as a child that Bart had trouble sleeping because of his wounds. I also saw my childhood abusers as monsters who raped and tortured me.

There’s no question that beating, raping, and torturing a child is monstrous behavior, so it makes sense for those who suffer at their hands to view those who inflicted monstrous behavior as “monsters.” However, we tend not to view our own monstrous behavior in the same way. We judge others by their actions (monstrous behavior = monster) while we extend ourselves mercy based upon our intentions: “I didn’t mean to say those terrible things to him/her… I have a lot on my plate… I suffered so much as a child and never learned how to communicate well… I wasn’t feeling well…”

And then we also tend to maximize the monstrous impact of what was done to us while minimizing the monstrous impact of our actions toward others. Because I did not beat, rape, or intentionally torture anyone else, I gave myself a pass for all of the terrible words I said to the people in my life. God has opened my eyes to the many ways I used words to hurt the people in my life, and I have had to repent of so many mean things I said to other people … sometimes to their faces but more frequently behind their backs. How many people from my past continue to think of me as a monster because of the monstrous things I said to them out of my pain and brokenness?

This dynamic was evident in the movie as well. When Bart confronted his father about beating him as a child, he father said he cried all night because of it. Bart’s father was broken and did monstrous things out of that brokenness, but did that make him a monster?

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dressed like Frankenstein’s monster under the word, “Brains.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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