I can still remember being a young teenager and my mother calling the man’s house who abused me. I didn’t hear the entire conversation but it did consist of him saying he had no part in it, whatever that meant, and his wife telling my mother I was going to hell. I still remember the me going to hell part.
Why do human beings feel so…entitled….so….self righteous….so….on a pedestal? How does any one human being deem another to hell? The wife of a child abuser felt my worth was hell. The worst place anyone can imagine. That is where I was destined to go. Hell. It so easily slips off the tongues of so many and it should not.
In our mind we may think that a person should go to this worst place ever for a number of reasons: They raped someone. They killed someone. They abused a child. They abused an animal. They abused an elderly person. Everyone has their own catergory they put someone in that is sending them straight to hell. If they do this, then they are going there. my neighbor’s kid said my entire family is going to hell because they are Jewish. The supremacy of this child to think she can say something like this appalled me. Yeah, you don’t get to tell me my family is going to hell. Not gonna happen. But I am an adult so I can take these words with a grain of salt. When I was a young girl finally having the courage to tell I’d been abused, going to hell was the last thing I needed to hear.
I don’t have a catergory I put people in that makes me assume in any way that I have any IDEA where they may go after they die. But that is not why people say it. They say it to condemn. They say it to hurt.
My blog post is not about religion and it is not about hell. It is about the hurtful things that one person says to another. What does one get out of telling another person they are going to hell? Some phrases will change nothing in another person’s life. Does it just feel like a good thing to say if you’re angry? I said it to one person. Once. It didn’t affect him. It only allowed me direct my anger. It didn’t feel good after I said it. The OTHER things felt good. He was the man who locked me in his garage and assaulted me. We have the gift of language and words. We can use them in a much better way than flippant judgments. Every other word I felt had meaning, accountability, and strength behind it. The, going to hell part, seemed…weak.
It is a tough phrase for me. I have always been sensitive to it. If I hear it for what I feel would be a justifiable topic or whether I hear it as an insult it rubs me the same way. Because a woman, whose husband molested me, felt justified to tell my mother I was going to hell. I still remember it. I still feel it. I’ve come to the place where I don’t think it should be said.
Say what you really mean. Telling someone they are going to hell just seems so juvenile, so elementary. The man who abused me, his wife deems me to hell. What she really wanted to say was she was furious I was accusing her husband of molesting me. She was so furious and so much in denial that I MUST be a terrible person who should have terrible consequences of my accusations. But all she could come up with in the moment is, I was going to hell. Come on lady.. If anyone is going to hell it would be her husband. Ah…see how easily it can be said. What I really want to say is I have no idea what will happen in this man’s life. But I have more elaborate words. I feel disgust of him. I wish justice would be served. I wish he were in jail. I wish he paid for his crimes against me. And maybe he will…in hell…I know, it is just hard to get around. Which is my point. It is such a used phrase that anyone can be tossed into the sentence with it. It is simply a phrase meant to declare absolute hatred for another human being.
You know what bothers me? I’m not thinking about this man’s life in eternity. I care about right now. It infuriates me that he gets to walk around on this earth at all. He gets to roam freely to hurt others. He gets to enjoy the life with his wife and family. I am upset about his life right now. Whatever happens after this life is not up to me. That is for God.
Hurtful phrases can cut deeply. If you take out the pedophiles and the sex offenders and all the other people in the “bad” catergory they we feel free to send to hell, you are left with innocent 15 year olds who are being told they are going to hell for finally telling the truth. And that is not okay. We have powerful capabilities with the use of our language and words. They should be used wisely, especially with children. 30 years later I still remember that woman’s words. I was going to hell. Her words contributed to my attempted suicide. Her words and the words of many others who chose to minimize and trivialize the abuse. Event those who chose to not speak at all in my defense. You add up the condemners and the silent watchers and you’ve got a perfect storm for a young girl who has actually been through hell.
“Go to hell,” lets do better than that shall we.