You Don’t Own Me Any More

At the risk of you thinking I am lying to myself about where I am emotionally and mentally, let me once again say I am in a really good place,

Some days are harder struggles than others. A friend from Long Beach, MS, Fred Walker, says it like this: “Some days you thrive; some days you survive.”

These days I thrive more than I just survive.

And not to be repetitive (although I guess I am), my beautiful wife has really helped me begin the process of learning how to fully live again.

Even on those days when all I want to do is cry, she picks me up and puts me back on solid ground. (Thanks Three Doors Down for the great Kryptonite lyric)

All that being said, I would be less than truthful if I failed to admit to some bitterness and anger.

More than just some.
If I didn’t force myself to let it go, I’d wallow in an anger so deep; I’d bask in a bitterness of deep despair.

I have some real and vivid complaints, however, I am not even sure getting them off my chest will actually get them off my chest.

In some cases I may engender some anger or embarrassment. But guess what? Nobody owns me any more and I can whine and complain if I want to.

I am angry that a man like Paul Buckman could be a pervert and nobody ever held him accountable. Nobody ever spoke up and put an end to his depravity. I am angry at a legal system that couldn’t protect the innocent any better than they did.

I am angry that so many fail to see or understand all the ramifications of this tragedy.

Sure. I get that not preaching anymore was and is a disappointment for some. But how anybody could expect me to jump back up and try to preach again is beyond me.

When you fall off a horse the best answer is to get back up and try again. News flash: I didn’t fall off a horse, I got blown out of the water! Just being at the church building made me gag. Every time I was there all I could see was two misshapen bodies lying in caskets they didn’t belong in.

To be fair, the church did give me six months to figure it out, but obviously those six months were nowhere near enough time for me to wrestle with God. And whether my feelings are accurate or not, they are my feelings.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I am still wrestling,

It seems like all I heard from people was how disappointed they were with me.

Sure I made my mistakes. Wouldn’t you have?

But if you are in the ranks of the disappointed, just know I was doing the best I knew how to do. I had never been a single father before. Starting all over was really scary. It still is.

And I counted on the promise of keeping my health insurance for the rest of the year while I tried to reinvent my life. That didn’t happen. And it became a huge financial problem on top of everything else.

Here’s where it gets funny, losing my insurance was my fault because I wasn’t preaching anymore. Because I wasn’t preaching anymore, attendance and giving was down. And because attendance and giving were down… well you get the picture I am sure. No more insurance.

But there were other issues as well.

Staying in that house was also a problem. I couldn’t do it anymore–but because it was a stigmatized property, it lost more than half the value of what I owed on it. We lost that too.

And then there were all those who had such a hard time with me remarrying again.
How long did you require me to be lonely?

How many miles did you want to walk in my shoes before you decided it was ok?

Even today there are people, friends and family, who are either distant or just not there.

Most everybody has an opinion of how I should have managed things. Good luck with that plan if it ever happens to you.

Some of us don’t get to live in fairy tale land anymore…

31 thoughts on “You Don’t Own Me Any More

  1. Once again – Les you are one of the most courageous men I know. Your honesty is beyond words. Your Catholic friend prays for your peace.

  2. I have heard repeatedly, ” God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” If that is true ,then why is the “crazy house” always full of patients? I am still shocked at the treatment you have received by some. I don’t know how anyone recovers from the horrific nightmare that you went through. I do know that you are moving forward , no matter how painful each step may be.
    You are a survivor and you give strength to everyone reading your blog.

    • The verse that is used to “prove” that statement is “God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (I Cor. 10:13.) But the context is specifically talking about “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall”, and, in my opinion, is referring to temptation to sin, not circumstances of life.

      I have often heard the same line given me in my circumstances (dealing with autism.) It doesn’t help me, and I am very sure it doesn’t help Les, either.

  3. Keep on keeping on Les. I think you are doing a wonderful job with your life. There is nothing you can do with the past. But you do have the future. Make the most of it and don’t worry about what others think. My prayers are with you.

  4. Les, God bless you brother. As many others I read of the tradegy with you family and know this has to be a terrible burden to bear. I cannot begin to imagine what that is like, but I do know of some of the “collaterial damage” that comes from misspoken words and unkind acts that can flow from such a tragedy. As a preacher told me early in my Christian walk, “Put all of your faith in the Lord, the brethren will disappoint you.” I’m sure this will or has redefined your walk with the Lord. Likely your own response to those who have a similar situation will receive much greater sympathy and assistance from you now than before. In all of this my prayer is that you are assured of Almighty God’s personal love for you. I suppose we won’t ever understand the clash between good and evil and why evil seems to win at times. Be assured I am praying for you. God bless brother.

  5. Even though I can’t fully appreciate the guts it takes to write, I follow your blog and appreciate the candidness. I obviously can not imagine the struggle that you live with every day but I just wanted to let you know that we love you guys and think of you often.

  6. Les, I cannot even begin to understand what you’ve been through. I admire your transparency!
    Just remember, because someone goes to church doesn’t make them a Christian, no more than standing in a garage makes them a car! It make them religious, just like the Sadducees’ and Pharisee’s.
    But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17 AMP)
    Be encouraged, I believe that God’s promises are true and that if you’ll continue to believe and rely on Him that you will see the glory of God. (John 11:4, my version)

  7. I love you, Les. Anyone who thinks they could have handled things better or differently, well I hope they are never faced with that. I’m not going to pray for you to find your way back to some path that may or may not have been the correct one for you and your family, but I will love you and your family. Always. That is what I am capable of and what I feel we most need from each other as fellow human beings while we walk through this life.

  8. I heard lately”Some days the ‘goal’is just to survive”!:) I’m so happy that you have “survived”those many.many “dark”days&you are having some “thriving”ones now. paul buckman…(lower case letters,for a small man)…is getting “his”,now i’m sure!!!Satan’s attacks many times are launched on the VERY BEST!. Love&prayers to you&”your”dear family always!!!

  9. Les, No words from me can help only to say that those that judge you have a terrible fear of being in your shoes. Sometimes it is just best to say, I love you brother and I am always here for you. You are finding your way in your way, enough said.

  10. can judge you unless they have walked exactly in your shoes. Those who have judged you and still do.should be ashamed. After my son died i heard…its been a year, when are you gonna get over it? People say stupid things when they should just shut up. No one should expect you to stay alone and no one. should tell you how to feel, how to grieve, or how to try and begin to heal. I told you before….you will never get ovet it, it will never get better or easier…but you will eventually have more good days than bad, you will smile more than you will.cry and you will laugh more than you will screm….grieve in your own way and time my friend. Its been almost four years and i still havent learned how to be a mom of one son instead of two. Thankfully i have a few true friendd who sadly understand my pain…you do too. Keep writing, let it out… you!!!

  11. I want to key in on the title of this article. I pray that you really come, in every fiber of your being, to believe that about everyone and everything except God. I know it is a challenge. I’m not there. Hear the love of God in every kind word or gesture. But, the fumblings of us frail humans are not the truth of God. I am being transformed to look like Him. Sometimes I reflect Him. But, I am not the exact representation of God. He is light! He is love! He is …. Being honest, I don’t understand God. I have glimpses of Him. I hate to admit, having been a preacher for so long, the son of a preacher, but He is so far above me. When I am quiet and honest I see Him clearer. When I am humble I hear His voice. In your writings I hear humility and honesty. I know there has to have been alot of quiet. Maybe, like me, you long to hear the voice of God audibly. The deafening silence can be a struggle. It sounds like to me you are hearing and seeing Him. In taking the moniker “Wanting to Believe Again” for this blog are you asking us to believe again? Clearly, as I reflect on your writings and the response of the readers, you bring us to a new call to faith.

  12. Les, I do not know you but I know your story. I cannot say I enjoy reading your blogs because of the obvious pain, but I am touched by your honesty and openness in sharing your deep hurt and reactions to the pain – too much inflicted by others. Billy and his family moved to Columbus while I was worshipping at 7th Street and I have always appreciated him and his meaningful and relevant messages from the pulpit. I am reading a book written by Jamie Buckingham entitled Where Eagles Soar. I read it probably 30 years ago and just recently started it again to see if my early perception of the book would change in my old age. It is a thought provoking read and I recommend it to you.

  13. I can’t even imagine what you and your family have faced. I’m thankful that you have found someone new to help you through and that you were able to marry each other. “I’m sorry” and “I love you” seem so small in the face of such loss and grief. May each day get easier and may you find comfort in God and your wife and children.

  14. (((HUGS))) Sadly, I have seen that kind of attitude towards those impacted by tragedy. As to the comments, it’s just ignorance, so many do not realize the toll preaching has on a person (family as well) and the INVESTMENT of time and energy…you needed to heal and take care of your remaining children and help them, 6 months is not enough time for something like that. I’ve found there is no pleasing some people. There are those that seem to get joy in gossip and slander, I wonder if they realize the hurt they inflect within church family? Alas, the church is comprised of humans and too many of them forget that they need to extend the same grace that Jesus gives all of us daily. Thank you for writing and sharing your story, still in tears. Lot of love and prayers. GOD sees our hearts, GOD knows and HE is the one we need to live for. Satan loves to destroy families and split the Lord’s body.

  15. My heart breaks for you! I followed you here from Jimmy Hinton’s blog and I’ve read some of your comments on his and Clara’s blog. I just can’t imagine the things you’ve been through! Thank you for this blunt reminder to always extend MORE compassion than I think is needed,!

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